You leave a meeting walking on air because the prospect expressed a great deal of interest in you, your company and your products. In your mind you’re already writing a check for a down payment on that new sailboat. But your next appointment doesn’t go so well. All of a sudden your “hot” prospect runs cold and your dreams of sailing the ocean blue begin to sink. Does this scenario sound familiar?
So where did you go wrong? According to Stephan Schiffman, author of Closing Techniques (That Really Work!) (Adams Media, 1999), you failed to verify your information, leading you to believe what you wanted rather than viewing the situation for what it really was.
To avoid this predicament, Schiffman suggests the following steps:
1. Chalk up an outline.
Conclude the interviewing phase of the sales cycle by telling prospects that you’d like to go back to your office and work up an outline. Note that an outline is not a formal presentation because it contains no time estimates or prices.
2. Your object: objections.
Once prospects have had time to review your outline, you should go over their stated objectives for the project. List the objective as you understand them, then ask if that is an accurate summary of the previous meeting. Do not talk about your company or products during this stage.
3. Confirmation information.
Prospects should either confirm your assessment or correct any misunderstandings. Get confirmations on specific points and actively encourage prospects to fine-tune your understanding. Take notes at this stage and then use them as a guideline for your proposal.
4. Move on or move out.
Next, assuming you are able to deliver a proposal that addresses all the issues you’ve discussed, ask the prospects whether they can see themselves working with you. Then stop talking and listen. If you get a positive response, schedule the meeting right then and get to work on the proposal. But if you get an unenthusiastic response, thank them for their time, ask whether you can check in again next month, and move on.
Though Schiffman admits that this program can be difficult to practice, he says the results – a nearly 80 percent closing rate for those who follow it – more than make up for the challenges.
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