Last time I went through various ways to close a business meeting, each one having a different result but all with the aim that you have won the clients business.
Another situation you may face is where they say they will think it over, which often is a polite way of saying no.
If someone says this to you, there is not much you can do, but what you can try is to say: “That’s fine. I understand you want to think it over because it is a big decision; just tell me before I go if there is any aspect of what I have told you that needs clarifying, so that you can think it over properly; I would hate you to be under any misapprehension, or worry”.
Sometimes they tell you, sometimes not. If they do tell you, this is an opportunity to get back on track and complete the sale. If you cannot close the sale, you will need to do further follow-up. Sometimes this will be successful, sometimes not! We use the “rule of seven” approach. If after six attempts to contact the prospect we have had no joy (i.e. calls/emails not returned) our seventh action is to close off the file.
We will write and state that we have tried without success to contact on a number of occasions with no success; we will add that we do not wish to irritate them, and appreciate that their priorities and needs may have changed; they know who we are, where we are, and what we do, and are welcome to contact us at any time. We stay in control.
Finally, there is the “Jim close”. I used to work with Jim in New York and he had the reputation of being one of the top software salesmen on the Eastern Seaboard. If anybody remembers the original Miami Vice, Jim was a dead ringer for Ricardo Tubbs; he dressed like him, walked like him and talked like him – he was very smooth!
We did some calls together. When Jim felt the meeting had lasted long enough he would steeple his fingers, lean forward, using body language to draw everyone in, and then lower his voice. He would then indicate that he felt that we had taken the discussion as far as we could and that there was just one thing he needed to know before he left – was there any reason other than price why they would not sign there and then?
A good question – not cheeky – but he left knowing that he either had to get the price right or overcome a roadblock, be it operational, technical or political.
Importantly, he was in control.
When somebody asks you for the price you have choices. Either give them the price quickly and confidently, then stay quiet, or, if it is complex, advise them you will get them a price within say 24 hours. Whatever you do, do not think aloud in front of them; any rambling or waffling will not help your cause!
Final tip – you can possibly solve two challenges with one tactic. The first challenge is winning your first clients; the second is obtaining positive references from them. I have seen a number of people use an “early adopter” strategy to good effect, e.g. “If I offer you an early adopter price, discounted from my full rate, would you be prepared, assuming you are satisfied with my product or service, to act as a reference site and allow me to put a testimonial on my website”?
This is always a good tactic to use if you are in need of references and want to win business at the same time. Why do two jobs when you can do one and get more out of it?
Next time we are moving on from sales and business meetings – it’s time to focus on your delivery!