“Lots of activities but not enough closes. Lots of leads, just have to light a fire to get going faster to turn leads into work. How do we do that?”

Thoughts of the Day: Good news is you have opportunities coming in the door. Should you be closing the leads you have in front of you? Do you understand your clients’ needs, and how well are you doing at conveying that understanding? Is this the right time for your client to buy, and what can you do about adjusting the timing?

One of the things that holds back a lot of sales organizations is not having enough leads to work with.

Sounds like that’s not the problem here. Which is terrific. A strong pipeline of opportunities coming to the sales organization is like gold waiting to be mined.

Now help your sales organization figure out how to tell the difference between good leads and not-so-good ones, between leads that should close now and ones that shouldn’t be counted on to close anytime soon. Look for deals that are delayed but can benefit from nurturing until they’re ready to close.

Start with a script of questions that your sales people are required to put to prospects and to which they are to get answers.

  • What’s your ideal time frame, and why that timing?
  • How much depends on this sale?
  • How will any changes in customer needs, the economy, or your company’s situation impact your decision to purchase?
  • Who else needs to be involved in decision making on this purchase, how will they get involved, and what other commitments on their plates might get in the way of them paying attention to this deal?
  • If you saw a way to move up the timetable on making this purchase, what would motivate you to do that?
  • How long before the lack of making this purchase impacts the company’s performance and profits?

Understanding the client’s urgency and necessity is critical. If it’s not urgent and not necessary, the sales people have a lot more work to do to keep this deal front and center and move it to close.

Ask how well the solution fits the client’s needs and listening carefully to any objections.

Make sure that everyone involved in the decision sees it the same way as your contact, that you don’t get misled by one person who doesn’t represent the views of the buying group overall. Deal with objections thoroughly and carefully, but also be alert for deals that are more wishes than reality. Sometimes it’s more important to walk away and put time in elsewhere on another deal that shows more promise.

Deals that are urgent in the clients’ eyes should get closed right away. Don’t make things complicated; avoid creating obstacles to closing. Once the client admits there’s a fit, ask for the sale.

With outstanding deals, ask your sales people to find out if the client’s timeline matches their estimate of when the deal might close. Have them check if there’s any misunderstanding on timing. Tell sales to look for any mis-match in expectations about whether and how this deal might, or might not, happen. Encourage your sales people to get the truth about what’s happening, even if it’s not good news.

Put every opportunity into a spreadsheet where you can keep track of all of your outstanding opportunities.

Look at which sales people are good at forecasting, which sales people are good at setting accurate close dates and which ones are over promising and under delivering. Put your focus on helping them to better understand what’s going on and how to either close more deals or let go of ones that have little or no hope.

Looking for a good book?

Try, “The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales“, by Anthony Iannarino.