I had a Q&A call with my clients a bit ago and one of them asked me this question, here is my response.
Q: “What recommendations do you have for increasing my closing efficiency with new clients?”
A: Well, it’s not one thing, but three. You have to have the RIGHT PROSPECT, the RIGHT PROCESS and the RIGHT PROPOSITION. Let me ’splain.
THE RIGHT PROSPECTS: Amateur sales reps waste a LOT of time trying to convince and sell to the wrong prospects who can’t buy or won’t buy. For example, I get a mailer nearly every week from Andersen Windows trying to sell me replacement windows – and they’re great mailers. In fact, I’m knocking them off to use in my own business. HOWEVER, I have a newly built home that’s less than five years old. Why on earth would I need replacement windows? So, no matter how good the campaign is, I’m sadly throwing them into the trash. They’re undoubtedly using the “spray and pray” method of targeting, when they could be smarter about this and pull a list of homes that are 20+ years old, in certain zip codes, of certain values and ONLY target those with the direct mail instead of wasting thousands of dollars on the direct mail they’re doing. My mentor Dan Kennedy drilled into my head that the quickest way to go broke in marketing was to “mail the whole list.” What he meant was that more money would be made by breaking down any given list into categories to match the right proposition or offer to the right prospect. The right prospect has to 1) have a need or desire you can solve, 2) have the ability to buy what you’re selling at the price point you want to sell it, and 3) have the authority to say yes. There’s no point in wasting time, money and effort on pitching to anyone who doesn’t meet these three criteria. That’s why in the Toolkit (and in the Rapid Implementation Workshop), I hammer on picking a lucrative target market and building a list of HIGH-PROBABILITY prospects, removing as much hay from the haystack as possible before hunting for needles. One way of doing this right is to identify in your marketing and website WHO your services are for. The more descriptive and detailed it is, the more magnetic it will be to that prospect. Of course, everyone falls to the “But I don’t want to exclude anyone” fear – but “everyone” is not a target market. There is no product that “everyone” will buy, and by trying to appeal to “everyone,” you simply water down the message and value.
THE RIGHT PROPOSITION: If you’re going to convince a client to buy from you over the two dozen other IT firms in your neighborhood, you better have a damned strong USP, or unique selling proposition. Again, I cover this in the Toolkit you purchased, and it will be something that requires careful consideration and CONSTRUCTION. Companies aren’t “born” with a USP. USPs are chosen and developed with a select target market in mind. That doesn’t mean you have to have the best product. If I asked you to think of your favorite restaurant – one you would go to if you could go anywhere for a big celebration – I can pretty much bet you’re not thinking McDonalds. But McDonalds has made more money in the restaurant business than any of its competitors. Does it have superior food? Of course not. Does it have impeccable service? Nope. Is the environment and decor best in class? I suppose it is if you have a penchant for red and yellow plastic. Point is, they have a select target market and a value proposition that resonates with their market. You need that too.
THE RIGHT PROCESS: Once you have the above two nailed, you need to craft a selling process and system that maximizes your chances of closing the deal. Again, we have such a training program that you might have depending on the package you bought. Most people simply wing the sales process. They have no scripts, no process, no nothing. They just show up and see what happens. If you truly, absolutely want to give yourself a competitive advantage, spend a considerable amount of time on this. Work on good qualification questions. Craft a powerful ShockAnd-Awe box that goes in advance of your meeting to presell the prospect. Make sure you have a good diagnostic process that helps the prospect see where their current IT company is failing them (never assume they’ll leave the company they’re working with now, even if they say they’re frustrated). Do a complete and thorough job of assessing their needs and pain points. You would do well to study my friend Chris Voss and his book Never Split The Difference, which is a brilliant read on strategic empathy. All of this is, without a doubt, a “lot of work,” but truly worth it if you don’t want to burn opportunities, and you want to sell at higher margins than your competitors. One final word: Before you can get the sales process dialed in, you really need to work on the marketing to line up some “at bats” for you to practice with. If you’re only going on one or two sales appointments per month, it’s going to be difficult to get good. Selling is a skill – and like any skill, the more you work on “perfect practice,” the better you’ll get. You won’t be nearly as good if you have giant gaps of time in between sales meetings.