A reader of this blog emailed me to ask me about applying The Lost Art of Closing (TLAC) as it pertains to the one call close. The reader recognized that the book is primarily aimed at B2B salespeople and sales organizations. He recognized that the approach is extremely consultative, and that is by design. I wrote the book with a consultative salesperson in mind, and one who is involved in a long-cycle, complex deal which is likely to be a competitive displacement (which means one in which the salesperson is eating another’s lunch).
That said, everything I write tends to be principles-based. And TLAC is a book based on certain principles about selling and commitment gaining. Those principles will serve you no matter what market you sell to, and no matter what vertical.
If you sell at all, it is necessary to gain the Commitment for Time. Unless you gain this commitment, you will not be having a conversation with your prospective client at all. When you are sitting in front of your prospective client, you are asking them to make the Commitment to Explore Change. If it makes sense, the next commitment will be the Commitment to Change. This is the commitment that many salespeople miss completely, and it’s why they hand over a proposal only to find out their prospect has decided to do nothing.
You have to ask the question, “Does it make sense for you to do this now, and are we going to be able to get the time and resources necessary to put this in place? Or do we need to be working on something else for you?” The reason salespeople don’t like to ask this question is because they don’t want to hear “no.”
All of these commitments are necessary in a B2C sale, but the rest of the commitments are also necessary. It is necessary for you to gain the Commitment to Collaborate, where you work with your prospect to understand their needs and to put together a solution that makes sense for them. Even when you’re selling to a consumer, their input is helpful in allowing you to provide a solution they can say yes to when you propose it. In many sales, if the consumer has a spouse or a significant other, you still need the Commitment to Build Consensus. Which brings us to one of the fundamental principles in the book: controlling the process.
In a sale to a consumer, leaving out one of the parties can sink your deal. It can also sink your deal by giving your prospect the ability to use the other party as a way to avoid deciding during a call.
The other commitments are also important. It’s important that you gain the Commitment to Invest, and I would argue that the more expensive or higher priced your solution, the earlier you should have this conversation. You also need the Commitment to Review, where you make sure your solution is exactly right, as well as the Commitment to Resolve Concerns. In a one sale close, this is where the client says, “I need to think about it.” This is an indication that they are not confident in moving forward, and you need to discover what their concerns are, so you can successfully address them.
Finally, we get to the Commitment to Decide. This is where you ask for the business. In a more complex sale, you have a final commitment called the Commitment to Execute. In a less complex sale, that execution may just be signing a check. But if the client has to do something else in order to get the benefit of what you sell, you may still need that commitment. For example, if you sell a gym membership, the execution is the consumer showing up at the gym to gain the benefits of the membership you sold them.
There are differences between business to consumer sales and business-to-business sales. But there are also principles that cross the boundaries between the approaches one needs when selling to a consumer and selling to a business.
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