Closing a sale is not an event, but rather a series of meetings and little victories that start out with the first phone call placed to a potential customer.
Rick Davis, president of Building Leaders, Inc. and author of the book, Strategic Sales in the Building Industry, offers these tips for systematically making inroads with prospective customers and securing the sale.
Tip #1 - Get the First Meeting - Successfully scheduling the first face-to-face meeting with a potential customer is a small victory. This is the door that opens toward a new account.
Tip #2 - Don't Push for the Instant Sale - Listen carefully as a potential customer explains his or her challenges. Before people determine how their product or service can solve the customer's problems, they need to make sure that they truly understand how the customer runs their business and sells their products.
Tip #3 - Establish a Reasons for the Second Meeting - When all else fails, the salesperson can always say that she'd like time to digest the information about their company before making a sales pitch. Then, schedule the next meeting while still in front of the client to lock it in.
Tip #4 - Always Keep the Focus on the Client - Use a follow-up meeting to reiterate what was learned from a previous meeting. Show the customer how information was processed and support their needs. While building a personal relationship, explain specifically how the product or service will benefit their profits.
Tip #5 - Follow-up - Use every resource available for following up personally with a potential customer. Send a written thank you note, e-mail a relevant article or document, drop off a follow-up package of materials, call and/or leave a message.
When will the sale be closed? Maybe when connecting personally while discussing a local sporting team. Perhaps when sending a written thank you note that demonstrates professional and personal courtesy. It's possible the close even happened when the bid was presented and the rest of the sales process was merely an administrative formality. A salesperson may never know. However, what they will always know is that by systematically tackling the ground work, they've done everything possible to build a relationship that should lead to future business.