When I was a younger, cockier sales guy, I would pull some ballsy moves to try and accelerate the sales cycle. Some worked out, some… not so much.
I remember this one deal I was working – selling enterprise software to a medium sized company – that was almost a sure thing and going to be a pretty big deal for me. But, they didn’t want to close until the following quarter, and they had already pushed the date out twice before.
I really wanted to beat my quota for Q2, and decided to put on the full court press to get them to close NOW. I fabricated a time sensitive event and basically told them they had to sign today or the deal was off the table. Unfortunately, the decision makers weren’t able to move that fast, I pissed them off, and they walked away.
The lesson I learned is that customers buy on their own schedule, and most of the time, you just have to live with that.
But, there are some tricks to help accelerate the timing of the sale… without giving away a big discount.
WARNING: Use all of these with extreme caution. When you push a customer’s pace, it could backfire and leave you empty handed. If you give them an ultimatum, or create a time sensitive event, and they don’t bite, you may have to walk away, or come back begging with your tail between your legs.
What you need to do is listen to your customer and figure out why they are hesitating, and then carefully choose a solution on how you can work to push up the close date.
Here are 8 tactics to close that sale NOW:
1. Stress the lost financial opportunity
Let’s say you’re selling a new inventory management system to a customer whose current one is on the fritz, but can maybe last for another 6 months. They may want to wait until the purchase is a necessity, but what they may not realize is that by using the new system they’ll be saving thousands of dollars each month.
What you need to do is point out that every month that goes by, your potential customer is not realizing the benefit of your solution. Show them in black and white the lost financial opportunity their hesitation may be costing them.
2. Work around the financial challenge
If you’re selling cars, and your customer has a lease expiring in a few months, work to make it financially advantageous for them to close now. Although you may not have the authority to take a month’s payment off, perhaps you can find ways to delay payments for a month, or offer some other benefits that stress the monetary gains of getting this deal done sooner, rather than later.
Once you understand that this is their hesitation, figure out a way to take it off the table.
3. Stress the lack of inventory
For most things you are selling, there isn’t an endless supply. What you are selling today, honestly may not be in stock tomorrow. Highlight the urgency to your customer that if they like it, they should buy now. Tomorrow may be too late.
Likewise you can stress the availability of the support team or others involved in getting your customer started to bring the deal forward. “Well, Bob, I know you want this up and running by the end of the year. I need your commitment this week to get the resources started…”
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4. Say the deal is ending
Maybe your prospect just needs some motivation to close now, and a hard deadline in price quoting can be just the extra push they need. Tell your customer that the same deal you are offering them today is about to expire.
You can be vague about when the deal is expiring, but stress that as of today, it’s 10% off. People like a deal, and they don’t want to be kicking themselves tomorrow when the price increases and they miss out on a savings.
5. Illustrate the missed opportunity
Instead of stressing what they are gaining, instead emphasis what they are missing out on. The fear of missing out is a real thing – especially among Millennials – so use this angle for a quick close.
For instance, say you are selling an app that allows insider access to the latest and greatest concert tickets. If they don’t join today, everyone else that has this app will be notified of their favorite, under the radar bands, and they will scoop up all the tickets right then. Thus, leaving this prospect missing out on the best tickets to their favorite bands, while everyone is in the know and gets to go. FOMO works.
6. Try leveling with them
Often your prospects have no idea that selling a deal on the 31st is much more valuable to you than the same deal on the 1st. Why not tell them? Help them understand that it’s in their best interest to help you!
I would try to avoid giving them the guilt trip here, but I know other salespeople who swear by it.
7. Have your manager call them
Ask your manager to place a call to your prospect and come in as a bit of a heavy hand. Have your manager say they aren’t sure you are giving the customer the proper attention, so they wanted to jump in and reach out.
It could make the prospect feel important that upper management was taking the time to check in with them, and therefore feel confident in your company. Or, it could backfire and make it seem like you, the lower level rep, is an incompetent salesperson who doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing.
8. Go up the food chain
Let’s say you have been dealing with someone at the manager level, and although they are interested in your product, they have been hemming and hawing over timing, budget, etc.
Maybe it’s time you called someone one level up to see if they are the appropriate decision maker that can move this deal forward faster. You don’t want to piss off the main contact you have been working with, but perhaps all along you weren’t talking to the right person who could make the final decision on your pitch. Move up the chain to make the close.
A Word to the Wise
Remember – you have to use some of these acceleration techniques with caution. Pushing a customer past their comfort level is never a good idea. First work to listen your customer’s concerns, understand why they are hesitating, and then carefully choose a tactic to gently nudge them forward.
Also published on Medium.