I once wrote Always Be Advancing. I borrowed the term from Neil Rackham’s 1988 hit, SPIN Selling. The idea is exactly right the way Rackham laid it out in the book. Now I am afraid it is exactly wrong, but only because salespeople are softer than ever and more afraid of any conflict. The word closing is stronger than the word advance.
The right advice is to always being closing, and any advice to the contrary will prove detrimental to your sales results. You need commitments.
- If you never close you will never gain the commitment for the first meeting. Asking for the meeting to explore working together is closing.
- If you never close you will never gain the commitment for the meetings you need to help your client discover their needs. And you’ll never gain the follow through on commitments. You must close for these commitments.
- If you never close you will never gain access to the stakeholders who influence the buying committee, and you will never gain access to the buying committee members. Without closing for these commitments, you dramatically hurt your chances of moving an opportunity forward or acquiring the business.
- If you never close you will never gain the commitment to present your ideas or to modify those ideas after you have gotten feedback from your contacts. You’ll also never gain the commitment to resolve their concerns. These outcomes require that you close.
- In negotiations, you close your client on the value that you create or they close you on a lowered perception of that value. But, know that you are closing.
Sales is about conversations of value and commitments. You cannot pretend that selling is only about the conversations, just like you can’t pretend that closing would be effective without the value-creating conversations.