I’d like to share with you a conviction I hold that has served me exceedingly well throughout my career:
You cannot blow a deal you never had!
That brilliant little axiom has kept me alert and aware, on-edge and frosty. It has allowed me to cut through the bullshit and consistently separate the prospects from the suspects. Most importantly, dedication to this truism has kept me from wasting my time with time-wasters.
Too many salespeople put their faith in maybes, might do’s, and other various process extending excuses when trying to bag an elephant. Ever concerned that they may ruffle the feathers of their prospects, the mediocre tend to act more like messengers than closers, substituting desperate prayers to the deal gods in place of a zealous effort to gain commitment. Pretenders will go to all sorts of ridiculous lengths to avoid giving their prospects a bold faced ultimatum to “shit or get off the pot,” just so as not to offend, rankle or upset the customer, or rupture the deal.
Do not throw your lot in with this band of cowards. Do not leave the outcome of your deals to luck or worse, fate, as she will most likely kick you in the nuts every chance she gets! Take control of your destiny and dedicate yourself to becoming a first-class finisher. Never mind the namby-pamby, kid gloves approach, remember, “he who dares wins!”
So, when your prospect’s reply to a closing question is a veritable non-answer like “we’ll see” or a vague diversion designed to jog you on and pull their own ass out of the pressure cooker, do your customer and yourself a big favor, ask them to either put their balls on the line and take action or admit that they are just not that interested in what you have to offer. And, when an apparent condition (not an excuse) stands in the way of sealing a deal on the first conversation, attempt to make the deal conditional that will flush out the liars from the buyers every single time. Obligate or terminate!
Here’s the gospel truth, if your prospect is not sold or in love with your idea, if you haven’t managed to get him fired up about what you do and how you do it, then it matters not how relentlessly you close or how delicately you tread, the deal is DOA regardless! Any customer that tells you, after pressing them for a decision or some form of conditional obligation, that they are not going to move forward because you are too “pushy” or because you are “pressuring” them, was never, ever going to do the deal in the first place.
Prospects that cry “high pressure” are, quite frankly, full of it. Blaming a deal’s demise on too much pressure is the last gasp of a “suspect” (not a prospect) who is just as reticent to say “yes” for fear of regretting the decision later, as they are apprehensive about saying “no,” heaven forbid it turns out an incredible opportunity passed them by.
Don’t get me wrong, a clumsy, awkward salesman can certainly turn off a legitimate prospect. Acting like a “bull in a china shop,” full of unqualified assumptions and false sincerity during the sales pitch when you should be full of relationship building passion, relevant angles, and professional needs analysis questions will absolutely leave a nasty taste in a prospect’s mouth. And, if you hard close prematurely, before the prospect is sold lock, stock and two smoking barrels, then you will most likely appear inept and gauche. You will be viewed as a rank amateur, the kind who bunglingly endeavors to ram a sale down someone’s throat when they were never sold in the first place. However, if you have wined, dined and delivered one heck of a pitch, if you have sparked a love affair between the prospect and your concept and confirmed as much by asking strong qualifying questions, then it is incumbent upon you to motivate the customer to take action. You owe it to yourself and the prospect to not only present a clear and decisive path, but to confidently prompt and urge him to act on what it is he claims to be enamoured with. Under these circumstances, you are not going to blow anything by asking a prospect to commit. Someone who genuinely wants to buy understands the way business is done and appreciates a professional and firm approach. At worst, the real prospects and true decision-makers will be happy to offer a clear and legitimate explanation as to why they may not be able to move forward straight away and will be completely open to the suggestion that they put some skin in the game by promising action later if certain conditions are met.
By not going weak-kneed, by not cowering like some chicken-shit tenderfoot and avoiding the tough questions and if/then proposals, you are doing your prospects, as well as those that are suspect, a very productive service. For the buyers, you are showing consideration and respect for their position by offering them guidance and giving them what any true decision maker wants and respects: a clear, no-bullshit call to take action, an opportunity to be a decision maker and decide! And, for the liars, you are giving them the opportunity to either save face by blaming your aggressive manner for the deal’s demise (revealing them for the suspects that they are) or to simply admit what it is they were initially too polite to say, that your concept (or pitch) failed to impress and that they have no interest. Goodnight Irene!
Do not stake your career, your victories or your deals on a wing and a prayer. Count on obligation and commitment exclusively, they are your only true friends in a world rife with fear, political correctness and obfuscation. They will expose the ineffectual, the decision-fakers and the bureaucrats as efficiently as their use will garner the respect and loyalty of solid, tough decision-makers, multiplying your relationships with those that matter most (the power players). In the end the world might not always love a closer, but they will forever admire one.