One of the biggest challenges that sales professionals face is getting prospective customers to take action and say yes. Let’s call them “selling hurdles”; such as a customer dragging his/her feet, not replying to emails or returning phone calls, or continually “kicking the decision can” down the road. These hurdles can take the wind out of the sails of even the best of us. This behavior can make you question if it’s even worth it to continue spending time on the customer or even worse, question your ability to close deals in general.

Without knowing your exact selling playbook, you could be doing a lot of things wrong, but most likely, you are doing most things right. With two simple strategies to either implement or focus on with greater attention, you can take back control of your sales cycle and begin to see your hard work pay off with much greater frequency.

So, let’s get to it. Here are the 2 steps to help you close more business:

  1. Use incremental commitments

Never leave an interaction with a prospective customer without first getting your next commitment. There are three reasons why this should become one of your Ten Commandments in your selling playbook.

  • First, by securing a commitment from your customer during an interaction, you link together the different steps in your sales process and move the ball closer to the goal line. This alone can speed up your sequence as you no longer will be battling obstacles when attempting to schedule a follow up (like unreturned calls, voicemails, etc…)
  • Second, by getting a prospect to agree to incremental commitments you make it easier for them to say yes to the upcoming commitment. A seminal study on the Foot-in-the-Door Technique called this “Compliance Without Pressure”. The study asked a neighborhood if they could place large signs with the message “Drive carefully” on the front yards of these residents only to be met with an 80% refusal rate. In a nearby neighborhood, the Foot-in-the-Door Technique was used by first asking residents if a small 3-inch sign with the message “Be a safe driver” could be displayed. With almost no objections, the signs were put into place and two weeks later, the researchers visited these individuals for a second request. When asked if they could place the large signs with the message “Drive carefully” on their front yards, the acceptance rate was 76%. From 80% saying no to 76% saying yes, that’s a pretty convincing swing.
  • The last key reason for employing incremental commitments to your playbook is that this style will help overcome the endowment effect. This effect states that we irrationally overvalue something just because we own it and our possessions contribute to our identity. Incremental commitments in a sense chip away at this association slowly enough to free the prospect from the irrational connection they currently possess.
  1. Deliver pricing, proposals and contracts in person

Sending off quotes, proposals or contracts by email might be virtually painless, instant and convenient, but this one act alone immediately puts you at a disadvantage. Once your prospective customer has this material, they no longer need you to assist them in making a decision. They can look over the material and decide if they want to move forward in a way that is sufficient to them. That’s great for them, but that might not satisfy you. Without being face to face, there is no opportunity for you to answer questions, respond to objections or revise what has been presented. Just because something is efficient, doesn’t mean that it will get you to the end goal fastest. In fact, you might reach that goal less often by choosing efficiency over effectiveness.

Applying these two techniques will create momentum during your sales cycle that will not only speed up the process, but lead to a higher closing rate as well. With additional face to face interactions, you will demonstrate a customer centric approach to your craft that will make it easier for prospects to say yes as well as differentiate you from your competition. It might be uncomfortable practicing these techniques at first, but stick with it. Remember that you are the one that is in control of this process and you need to take the lead in navigating your prospects through each phase.

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