Home > Ideas > So near yet so far away!

So near yet so far away!


Not quite, seems to be the case for many Sales Professionals. They just can’t ask the important question. The need is ascertained and the customer has agreed unequivocally that a new solution is essential to remain effective, but the Sales Rep is still unable to ask for the business – or he completely misses the point. One blink and the moment is gone.

As Sales Manager I have witnessed many scenes where Sales Executives watched haplessly while a smarter colleague pocketed a case he had carefully nurtured and built over 2-3 months; but had either forgotten or baulked at the crucial last step. The smart guy went in, found a ripe apple ready to be plucked and made off with it.

Customers indicate in many ways that they are ready to buy; they would ask questions as though they are already using the product or service:

–          So if I call for the extra fittings you can come in at a day’s notice?

Or he will check out the product by placing it his pocket or the portfolio bag to see how it fits – a lady purchasing a dress would check herself up in the mirror and ask for approval? They would indicate their interest one way or the other.

These and other cues indicate that the customer is ready to buy – a smart Sales Pro would not miss the cue. But there are some who fail to notice. They need to develop a keener sense of observation to pick these tell-tale signs and boldly ask the important question. Diffidence does not pay in this game. While you are working on your skills there are some ways to increase your strike-rate.

Three useful methods to achieve a “Close” with less pain would be:

  1. Referral Business: Nothing can move a case forward like the word of a happy user. If you can get the next sales prospect from a happy customer the sale has the best chance of reaching a close without many roadblocks. Half the work is done for you by the happy adopter and you just need to avoid screwing-up. It’s not as if the business is available for free but the effort won’t be as intense as in the case of a prospect where you started from scratch. The chances of objections are lower because the recommendation has come from a user.
  2. Demo – Providing the prospect the opportunity to sample the product or service without insisting on purchase is a great way of getting the prospect interested. When they are able to do a “No obligation” test the customer feels favorably inclined – that’s because he has had ample opportunities to check the product; it removes many of the Objections faced by Sales Professionals.
  3. Benefit Selling – Here we are operating in the Consultative Mode – identifying the pain areas of the prospect and provide lasting solutions. This will mean that the Sales Professional works with the customer and categorically chips away at the problem to find the root cause and then suggests the cure – if this is done effectively the prospect usually agrees to buy even without the seller asking for the commitment because there is realization that this is the best way ahead.

In all these cases you have built the case up sufficiently for the customer to say “Yes!” before you pop the question. If it doesn’t happen voluntarily, don’t wait – it pays to ask when you know the time is right.

Do you still hesitate to ask for a Close – the next guy probably wouldn’t!

  1. Kailash
    February 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    good one J, but J how to handle distance selling. Like in IT presales thing usually we have to work in solo, i mean on site team would ask us to prepare something on some problem statement of Clients and when we ask some questions to get better idea of the situation/problem they don’t (many times) have the input and we prepare somthing which we are also not sure of. How to handle this scenarios?

    • JayadevM
      February 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Thank you, Kailash.

      In Consultative Selling you have to forge strong alliances with your clients – your forward team has to be your eyes and ears. They need to elicit as much information as possible. If no answer is provided you have to create the best estimate and provide a first-cut solution. Take your customer through the likely scenarios they will encounter when the solution is implemented. After seeing that they should be able to tell you what fine-tuning is required.

      You obviously can’t provide a robust solution without complete understanding of the problem situation; but you can’t wait forever for the customer to respond – hence you can move the case forward by prompting action with a best approximate solution. The customer will then be forced to take the next step in giving you a clearer picture of his requirement or he will be forced to accept what you have offered.

      Sometimes people need a lit match-stick between their toes to get moving!

      But before you force the issue try to initiate action with the help of your onsite team – soft at first and firm later on!

  2. February 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    yups…completely agree. Sometimes we feel we are so far…but we actually were very close. Simple, practical, useful post..

    • JayadevM
      February 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Hello Nittin, thank you for the appreciation. Glad you found the article useful.

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