success moves logo

How to Close Even More Sales Deals

The short answer is recruit train and retain.

Your company has great products and/or services, a proven market, growth potential but you are held back by the sales growth not going as planned. You know the opportunities are out there but you just cannot seem to recruit the sales people that bring home the deals.

Most Sales Directors will do the following:

Place adverts or employ recruitment agencies, searching for people already with experience in their industry that can hit the ground running. Then train them on the job and leave them at it.

These are the most common responses and they don’t work, or at least not to the level wanted by the Sales Director. Let us have a look at why before presenting the solution that really does work.

1. The people recruited are not the right profile.
2. The training is virtually non existent and not to professional standards.
3. The management, motivation and leadership of the team is lacking.

To put this right you have to before you even think of recruiting, design and write down your recruitment profile and induction and ongoing development plan. Here are some of my ideas from experience.

Idea 1: Recruit motivated, goal oriented raw talent. Even Leonardo Da Vinci could not make a great statue unless he had some great clay to start with.
Yes, you say but how. Well forget recruiting from your own industry it is just not going to produce the numbers for growth. Instead recruit people with closing experiences in other industries. Pick industries where the income for sales people is not as high as yours. So many industries pay good sales people peanuts or cap earnings. You now have a large population to recruit from. It is quicker to teach the product knowledge of your company than to teach someone how to close deals. You must in your profile recruit to your values, so that a natural team spirit and identity emerges.

Idea 2: Train your Sales Manager on leadership, and motivation skills. This is a skill quite separate to sales which is what he or she excelled in to be promoted to Manager. The Sales Manager needs to be sensitive and offer leadership. If not one ‘bad apple’ will demotivate the whole group.

Idea 3: Do not expect your trainee and openers to be promotable to closers. Many industries start people as trainees, relationship builders, ice breakers, door openers. Needs lots of rapport skills, taking rejection etc. Closing is a totally different mind and skills set. Most really good sales openers will never make it as a closer. Great if it happens but not a reliable source to fast grow a business.

Idea 4: Consider older people who are not sales professionals. Most Sales Managers will believe that it is best to recruit young for the energy and sales experience to deliver. Often wrong assumptions. Motivation, money hunger, drive, positive attitude are not age and experience specific. A 60 year old seriously motivated to earn commissions can perform very well. They also have age prejudice against them which will mean they value the opportunity more. They also will, depending on their carer to date, have many skills in communication that are actually relevant to sales. Life skills, parenting, managing, team building, in any context develop practical sales skills. Interestingly people new to sales often outperform sometime because they do not sound like stereotypical sales people.

Idea 5: Manage out of office influencing factors. Many people bring their home life to the office and many a good sales person is ruined by negative external pressures, stresses or influences. You need to ask and prove real motivations and influences. Do they have support of those around them for your position? What can you do to change make that better or at recruitment stage is it going to be too negative an influence. For example money hunger is usually good in sales but if your closer has desperate financial pressure s/he may become too pushy or desperate and trigger buyers remorse situations.

Feel free to email me any comments or challenges alex@successmoves.co.uk.

 

Success Moves Logo

How to Recruit Sales People That Can Close

Companies regularly ask us our advice on teaching their sales people how to close deals. We also get much feedback from the market generally saying that few of the people that they recruited into trainee sales roles can progress to close deals. Many start as ‘account openers’ where the emphasis is on rapport and ice breaking skills. Yet when promoted to closer positions they fail to bring in orders.

A deal closer is a different skill and mind set to opening accounts. Many who move into sales as ‘openers’ find even that to demanding a role and revert to positions where rapport skills are still paramount such as customers service, inbound call centres, recruitment etc. This is because although rapport is the main skill in customer service or opening accounts the latter is more assertive, requires being proactive and persuasive. For some even customer service is wrong and they are better suited to analysis type role with minimal people facing. So my point is that rather than training their current people to close, they need to look at their recruitment policies. Candidates on interview have a strong tendency to try and answer what you want to hear and finish up talking you into offering them the job and themselves into taking it. The result is someone who drops out somewhere between day one and end of the first quarter or at best never makes it to closer. It isn’t where their career should be heading. A sales jobs offer high income, especially to young people they are always going to attract interest, but often the wrong profile of person.

So, the training often needed is on recruitment and interviewing skills. The key question that follows then is how can you spot a good potential closer at interview? Closing deals is a role for a leader not a follower. Most people are followers who wait to be told what to do, takes orders, literally. Followers will expect you to lead through the interview and stay silent until you speak. Leaders will diplomatically take control. Closers need to be strong and assertive. Yet this is just one trait which is rendered useless if not accompanied with some very soft and sensitive skills. To close deals without rejection, or buyers remorse, a sales person needs to ask the right questions and be very sensitive to the answers. Listening is essential but not enough. She or he has to read between the lines, read the tone and body language and make an assessment of the corporate or personal environment that surrounds decision making.

First and foremost the deal closer needs to gather key information. Yes there are key questions to ask and the listening to the answers. But how many people will admit they don’t have full authority to make a decision? How many people are more concerned about losing face in their organisation by making a mistake? There is an old saying amongst computer system buyers, “No one got fired by choosing IBM. “ What are the true motivations of the prospective customer, which is rarely just what that they say it is.

Even when a prospect has been sold professionally it is not enough. Sold professionally I define as establishing the needs and matching them clearly to the product offer. Then asking for the business. That is rarely enough because people do not like making decisions and have a strong tendency to avoid them. They want to stick with the status quo. All of us are averse to change by varying degrees and a sales person by definition is always promoting change, a journey to new unfamiliar territory.
Offering discounts or promising the earth with no hope of delivering are not closing techniques. No amount of training will change someone whose nature is to do just that. Your sales people have to be strong and ethical to resist these temptations and complete deals in everybodys best interest.

Before interview on a CV look for evidence of taking initiatives, leading.  Job hoppers avoid, someone who gives up quickly when it does not work out are not leaders. Look at the interests, Captain of local Football Club, (Leadership), Played Guitar (good listening skills), Black Belt Judo (Doesn’t give up.) The clues are all there.

At interview you need to ask candidates questions like:
Give me an example of a situation where you took charge? (Are they natural leaders?)
If I rejected you right now, what would you say? (Clue: Closers do not ask for feedback they get to the core reason and turn it around!)
Also ask them about their background influences. Has their upbringing been one where they have to take initiatives or someone looked after all their issues for them.

Get your recruitment and interviewing policies reviewed.

My next blog will be about the best sources of potential closers and how to structure a training programme to make them productive very fast.

Author Alex McMillan For contact please email training@successmoves.co.uk.