Feb 12, 2015

The 2-Call Close, Part 3

Winning new clients is a process, and that process can be complex: proposal writing, product demonstrations, pitches, and meeting after meeting to build rapport and demonstrate your firm’s capabilities.

How long does it take you to run this sales gauntlet? Or a better question, would you like to shorten and simplify your sales process so it doesn’t feel like a gauntlet?

This is the objective of the 2-Call Close. Simplify your sales process to the point where you can sell big deals — $10,000 to $75,000 solutions — in two calls without a proposal. This is the holy grail of branding.

In this three-part series, we are discussing how to achieve the 2-Call Close in your business. In part 1 we discussed “Deliver Contracts Not Proposals.” In part 2 the focus was to make your website do the heavy lifting in the sales process with a “Website That Sells.”

Today, in this third installment, we are talking about sales talent, “Experts Close Deals.”

Part 3: Experts Close Deals

There is no substitute for great sales talent.

Hiring weak sales reps is like driving a car on bald tires. They can get you from point A to B, but you can never gain traction.

Developing the 2-Call Close for your business is the equivalent of building a race car. You can engineer the best car in the world, but it’ll never reach its potential with bald tires.

You need Experts on your sales team to achieve the 2-Call Close. Customers will not make rapid purchase decisions dealing with a rookie or turdy sales rep.

The Data Proves It: Experts Close More Deals

Only one in 250 sales reps exceed their sales quotas.

That blows me away. 0.4 percent of all sales professionals consistently exceed quota!

In the mid-2000’s Lynette Ryals, a professor at the Cranfield School of Management, conducted a comprehensive study on sales performance. She found that there are three types of salespeople who consistently achieve their sales targets:

  • Experts
  • Consultants
  • Closers

Experts are the most effective salespeople, and account for only nine percent of reps in the marketplace. As Ryals describes, “Experts make selling seem effortless, keep customers happy, and consistently outperform their peers.”

Experts are unique because they not only possess deep expertise in the products or services, they also have deep expertise in the craft of selling.

Closers, on the other hand, are naturally persuasive and gifted salespeople. They are good at bringing the right parties to the table, negotiating, and driving people towards their desired outcome. But they are “closers” and their style can be off putting for some customers. Closers represent thirteen percent of sales professionals

Consultants are up-and-coming Experts. They are talented, but they don’t have the depth of knowledge of Experts yet. They can ask the questions, but they usually have to draw in additional resources to close the deal. Consultants represent fifteen percent of all salespeople.

The 2-Call Close Requires Experts

Closers and Consultants are good salespeople, but they’re not good enough for the 2-Call Close.

Consultants have to draw in additional expertise frequently to help their customers address and solve problems. This slows down the sales cycle, and often adds additional meetings to the sales process.

Closers are deal makers, and they are excellent at bringing together enterprise-size deals. But the 2-Call Close is not about deal making. It’s about consensus building, facilitating the buying cycle, and getting to rapid decisions.

Closers also tend to complicate things, because their aggressive style erodes trust. Customers become defensive, and that makes them more prone to ask for more information, request more meetings, or demand a proposal. These are natural rebuffs from the customer, because they are trying to control the buying cycle so they don’t feel pressured into making a decision.

Experts strike the right balance. They have the depth of knowledge in the products and services to ask good questions, answer questions with authority, demonstrate credibility, solve problems, and put the customer at ease.

Customers trust Experts sooner, and that makes them more likely to make faster purchase decisions.

Three Essential Selling Behaviors

Not only are Experts deeply knowledgeable about the products they sell, they are skilled at selling them. They treat sales like a craft, which it is. It takes years to become an Expert salesperson.

The 2-Call Close demands three essential selling behaviors:

  1. Create Anxiety: The 2-Call Close is a fast sales process. It’s efficient, but respectful. This balance is hard to achieve, but it’s something Expert salespeople do extremely well. They create anxiety to make a purchase decision without pressuring the customer to buy. The salesperson creates the conditions for a customer to be excited about the solution, and fosters the belief that waiting (or kicking tires, evaluating other vendors, or requesting more demos) would simply be a mistake.
  2. Constantly Qualify: Expert salespeople don’t qualify once and move onto the next stage in the sales cycle. They are constantly qualifying. They are constantly taking the customer’s temperature and assessing the situation. This is an essential skill in the 2-Call Close, because the sales process is so fast and fluid. If a salesperson determines a customer is not ready to buy, they pull back and try to identify what the customer actually needs.
  3. Ask for the Order: I hate the term “Always Be Closing.” That’s amateur selling. Expert salespeople don’t pressure their customers to buy. Experts are more like consultants — they are professional problem solvers. They speak with authority, ask great questions, identify opportunities, solve problems, and deliver results. And when they see the opportunity to deliver results, they pounce. They let the customer know what they can do for them, and they ask for permission to help. They close because the customer knows the salesperson has the solution they need.

Experts make these three behaviors appear effortless. It’s just part of the way they act and behave, but they are learned skills. It takes conscientious practice and coaching for them to be able to smoothly create anxiety, qualify constantly, and drive for a positive outcome — the sale.

When You Pay Peanuts You Get Monkeys

A great salesperson is worth his weight in gold. He gives your organization traction, and helps it go further, faster.

But acquiring, retaining, and developing great sales talent is a process.

Do not cheap out on your sales team. When you pay peanuts you get monkeys, and monkeys will not deliver the results you expect.

The 2-Call Close demands Experts. Salespeople who are deeply committed to their craft; salespeople who will get into the field and deliver remarkable results with your customers.

Hire the best sales talent you can find. This doesn’t mean you have to hire the most experienced sales talent. I am not suggesting that. Hire the people you can develop, train, and groom into Experts. Give them the runway and guidance they need to make a demonstrable impact on your business.

Nothing Relieves Pressure Like Sales

The 2-Call Close is not a fit for every business, but it’s something I strive for in mine.

I came into the world of branding as a sales guy that had lost his competitive advantage (check out the Preface of my book Sticky Branding for the story). This was a jarring experience, but it taught me two very important lessons:

  1. Nothing relieves pressure like sales.
  2. You create the conditions for success. If you want more sales, set your organization up to generate more sales.

This lead me to develop the 2-Call Close. I achieved it in my former business, LEAPJob. And I am finally achieving it with my current business, Sticky Branding.

The ideal is not easy to come by. It’s taken me five years to refine Sticky Branding’s brand, services, and marketing to achieve the 2-Call Close. But I can write about it now, because I’m doing it.

I know you can achieve the 2-Call Close for your business too. It’s a complex undertaking, but it’s achievable. The three parts all interconnect and support each other:

  1. Deliver Contracts Not Proposals
  2. Websites That Sell
  3. Experts Close Deal

Look at your organization as a complete selling system, and then constantly refine and improve upon it until you have achieved the 2-Call Close.

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