CLOSING SALES IS LIKE HITTING A MOVING TARGET
By Dan Caramanico
Salespeople often make the mistake of assuming that the world of the prospect is static and that nothing happens in the life of the prospect between the times that he prospect talks to them. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. The world is a dynamic place and things change from day to day. Just think about your own company and your own life today compared to last quarter or last year. If your life and your perspective changes so much why would you think that the prospects life and perspective would be any different? When things change in the prospects life, their view of your product and the urgency to make a purchase will also change. When their situation changes that change will have a major impact on whether you can close the sale and how and when you should close the sale. Here are just a few of the things that can happen.
- IMPROVED KNOWLEDGE – Over time the prospect learns more. This can even happen in one call situations. As the prospect learns more about the product or service they are buying, what they value will change. In long sales cycles they have time to do research. your specific knowledge or what you tout as your ”value add” may become less important to them.
- PRIORITY CHANGES – Sometimes the project that you are selling rises on the priority list of the prospect and sometimes other projects become more urgent to the prospect. It is also true that certain features become more or less important to the prospect over time due to changes in their own situation or due to what they learn about the product or service.
- OUTSIDE EVENTS – Personnel changes either above or below the person you are calling on can have a major affect. Marketplace conditions can change. The prospect company can be bought or they can make an acquisition which will affect your sales. World events like the wrong person getting elected or a national calamity or a hurricane can have a dramatic effect.
These are only a few of the many things that can happen but they illustrate the fact that closing the sale is like hitting a moving target. Most times the closer you get to the decision point the faster things change.
The fact that the situation can change mandates that you stay abreast of the latest developments. When you go in to make a presentation or have a follow up meeting make sure that you verify that things haven’t changed dramatically before you start. In long cycle sales situations develop multiple contacts in the client organization so that you sources which can keep you up to date on the latest developments. The main point here is to recognize that his phenomenon occurs and to make sure you are aware of the latest set of buyer values and motivations.
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Dan Caramanico is a salesforce development expert and he is the author of Attributes of The Optimal Salesperson® One of Selling power’s top ten books for 2010 and Optimal Selling, Sales Conversations of the Optimal Salesperson.