Top 20 Requirements - How Salespeople Can be Better at Closing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 @ 07:06 AM

HandshakeIf you were to ask most executives for one thing that they would like their sales force to do better, you would likely get one of two answers:

  1. Close
  2. Prospect 

Nothing wrong with those two choices - or is there? 

While salespeople can get better at closing, closing is an outcome, and with the exception of real estate and banking, not really an event. When we evaluate sales forces and look at their ability to close, they may possess some of the strengths and skills that are part of the Sales Core Competency called Closing, but  most of those attributes are used prior to, not during, closing time. The ability to close depends on the following 20 variables (in no particular order) that a salesperson brings to the table - or not:

  • use of an optimized, formal, sales process
  • their severity of Need for Approval
  • whether their Buy Cycle (the way they buy things) supports or sabotages sales efforts
  • their Consultative Selling skill set
  • ability to identify the compelling reasons to buy
  • ability to quantify problems and build value
  • how thoroughly they qualify their prospect, competition and own company
  • whether they present early in the process or late in the process
  • ability to provide both a needs and cost appropriate solution
  • timing - whether they close when the opportunity is actually closable
  • ability to eliminate potential stalls, put-offs, objections and excuses prior to closing time
  • how much Fear of Rejection they have
  • ability to remain optimistic in the face of obstacles and pessimistic when things are going too smoothly
  • ability to develop a relationship early in the process 
  • ability to be realistic
  • ability to solve problems
  • exceptional questioning and listening skills
  • ability not to assume anything without validating their assumptions
  • ability to differentiate your company from all others through questioning
  • how trusting they are

When a sales manager asks for a seminar on closing, good sales experts push back and question the logic behind that, all the while knowing that a session on closing is a waste of time if the salespeople aren't doing these 20 other things effectively.  And of course, it's important to know whether they can and will do those 20 other things effectively. Inexperienced and somewhat less successful and/or effective colleagues might simply agree to provide the seminar without understanding or caring that it won't change a thing.

Is prospecting, or as executives see it, scheduling more appointments, any different? Is that a skill?   We'll explore prospecting next time.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, closing, sales evaluation

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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