Sunday, January 13, 2013

2 Final Selling Stages - Proposal and Closing

What's the essential business process you have to own in order to grow your business?   A selling system.  A documented, explainable process that keeps your pipeline full of suspects, prospects, proposals and closed orders.   In my experience fewer than 25% of businesses have one. For the rest, each month's revenue is a surprise -- some ok, most below target.   

Here’s an overview of a selling system.   Last month, we explored Qualification – sorting out the “best few” prospects from the many you might spend time chasing.

Today we’re talking about two final stages in a completed selling cycle – Proposal and Closing.

The fact is, the proposal itself may not be all that important, particularly if you don’t get there too early in the game. Inexperience creates many more proposals than necessary, as inexperienced sales people tend to think they propose first, then “sell” the prospect on the contents of the proposal.

Try turning that around. Do all the selling first. Make sure you’ve uncovered the pain or what’s missing in the prospect’s ambitions. Then make sure you’ve addressed all those wants in your conversations with your prospects. Agree in advance what he needs and, more importantly, what he wants.

Probe for any objections. Look hard for a reason the prospect might balk. Trial closes are important.  “Is the budget number I gave you within your budget?” “Is there anyone else who needs to OK this purchase?” “Are you ready to go ahead with this?”

“So, if I bring you a proposal that summarizes our conversations, are we set to do business?” That’s when you rev up your proposal machine. The proposal is just documentation of everything you’ve already agreed upon with the buyer, including his agreement to buy what you’re proposing.

The last step is closing, which is all but done – it’s a review of your proposal and a final approval. You start that conversation with a restatement of everything you’ve agreed upon, and use confirming probes to make sure you’re still in agreement. “That’s what we agreed upon, right?” Then you open up the proposal and read it to the prospect. Yes, read it to him. Put a copy in front of him and follow the text with your ballpoint pen, making sure he’s staying on track with you.

Every now and then, stop and confirm, “That’s what you wanted, right?” or “Sound OK?” When you get to the end, it’s pretty much time for him to act. Then, make it easy for him.  Don't say, "Sign here".  That's frightening.  Instead, say, "If you'll just OK this for me, we can get started."  Curiously enough, that’s when the balk may set in – when it’s time to actually give you the order.

Then it’s back to discovery.  Ask, “So, what’s getting in the way?” Review your points of agreement along the way – has anything changed?

The balk should be the exception – if you’ve done the selling first, then proposed on already-agreed-upon products, services, pricing, terms and conditions, you likely have an order. 
More next month on Farming those prospects who aren't ready to buy right now. 
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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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