Waiting for the Client to Decide What’s Next

As I have been promoting The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, some who have seen the posts have decided, without reading anything about the book or the sample chapters, that this is a book on closing tactics, complete with tie downs, tricks, and self-oriented motives. They mistakenly assume that this is a book on closing, with each close being given a clever name, and using short phrases designed to help you in a battle with your client.

  • They have suggested in their comments that there is no reason to close, that all one much do is serve the client and wait.
  • They have replied to social posts that the salesperson should allow their prospective client to lead the process.
  • Without knowing what’s in the book, they have decided that it is a self-oriented approach, and that it is something that they believe is self-oriented, smarmy, hard sell tactics.

None of these things could be further from the truth. But that said, those the comments are also terribly incorrect, and that is why I wrote this book in the first place.

Serve the Client and Don’t Wait to Be Asked

The idea that one should “never be closing” is a dangerous idea as it is practiced by many salespeople today. The idea that you should not ask for the commitment to buy before you have done the work necessary to do so is accurate. But the idea that you should wait for your client to decide for themselves while you wait patiently is poppycock.

Your prospective clients need someone that can help them through the process of change, moving from their present state to a better future state. They don’t need some milquetoast order-taker hanging around hoping that they ask to move forward. What they need now is someone who is a peer, trusted counsel, and who can earn the right to be a trusted advisor by advising them on what comes next, why it comes next, and how it is going to move their business forward.

Don’t Hope the Client Leads

There is probably not a more dangerous and debilitating idea when it comes to sales than allowing the client to lead the process. The underlying assumption here is that the client knows how to lead that process.

If your client has a process, it’s called a request for proposal, and there can’t be too many practices that destroy the value sales organizations are capable of creating, and not too many things that hurt the buying company’s results. The process is arm’s length, and the choice of provider is often so transactional that the buying company spends all of one hour in a conference room with the potential partner who is going to serve the organization.

Let’s check this. Does your client know that they need to make the commitment to collaborate with you and your team? Do they know that they need to bring in all of the people who are going to be affected by a decision to buy, including the obstacles? Do they have a process for making trade-offs and mitigating the problems that a new solution and a new partner are going to create? Do they believe they should be investing more in the outcomes they need, or does their “process” require reducing the investment in the strategic outcomes they need, as if better, faster, and cheaper is possible?

If your clients knew how to get the results they needed without you, they wouldn’t need you. If your competitors knew how to compel and lead the change they need, they’d be doing it right now. If you aren’t going to lead this process, then you are not playing for the role of trusted advisor; you are playing for something less than that, and something that doesn’t serve your clients.

Back to the book.

The Lost Art of Closing isn’t a book of closes with names, nor does it rely on tactics, tricks, or tie downs. What is inside the book is quite the opposite. It contains the 10 commitments you are likely to need as you help a prospective client change. The ideas are other-oriented, not self-oriented, and the underlying premise is one of serving the client with a process that helps them do what is necessary on their side.

The ideas and the example language is something that professional salespeople need now. It is a replacement for the closing techniques of yesteryear. There is nothing in the book that would give you pause or that would cause you to feel bad about what you are doing for and with your client. It does, however, require you to have the courage to push back and help your client have the difficult—but necessary—conversations to make real change inside their company, because that is what it takes to be a trusted advisor and a consultive salesperson.

 

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