The True Meaning of Closing A Deal and How Sales Coaching Can Help
Nov 14 2019
Is closing a deal an art or a science? Is closing a deal in the age of the customer as important as it was in the past? Is it just about negotiation and closing skills?
Closing is an area that often doesn’t get a lot of attention in sales enablement, except developing negotiation and closing skills. But it should, as the average win rate for forecast deals in our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study was 46.4%, which simply means that less than half of all forecast deals close as a win.
Closing deals is – more than any other area in professional selling – a mindset issue. (Click to tweet)
Of course, there are certain skills that salespeople should be able to apply fluently. Yet even if sellers are technically able to apply these skills, they often feel uncomfortable in closing situations and are not confident in their ability to do the right things. That’s when they unconsciously communicate uncertainty, which is what the buyer perceives. And if a salesperson communicates uncertainty, the buyer most likely won’t sign the contract.
When it comes to mindset, sales coaching is an effective way to tackle the issue. But first let’s break down what closing a deal actually means for both seller and buyer and in B2B selling for their organizations.
For the salesperson, a signed contract is the key to commission. For the buyer, a signed contract is their commitment to achieve their desired results. (Click to tweet)
For the salesperson, closing a deal is the final step to getting a signed contract, which is the last stage in the sales cycle before the deal goes to customer success and the value that has been sold has to be delivered. For the salesperson, the closed deal represented by a signed contract is the key to their commission or incentive. So, the closed deal opens the opportunity for their commission and contributes to their performance record.
For the buyer, making a buying decision and signing the contract is the final milestone that allows the buyer to experience or implement the value that has been bought. The signed contract is basically the buyer’s key to achieving their goals. More important, the signed contract for the buyer(s) is a signature that represents their commitment to finally solve the business problem that’s the reason for the buying decision in the first place.
Closing a deal is an organizational commitment to deliver the promised value. Signing the contract is the buying organization’s final commitment to achieve their desired outcomes. (Click to tweet)
For the selling organization, closing a deal is a commitment to deliver the value that has been sold and to ensure that the buyer has an excellent customer experience. That’s why closing a deal is a team effort, even if the final interaction is often only between buyer and seller or between the buying team and the selling team. Behind that interaction is the selling organization’s commitment to deliver the value that has been sold, on time, with the expected quality, ensuring excellent service.
For the buying organization, it’s also a commitment to make sure that they are going to implement and utilize the products and services they bought and ensure that – in addition to the investment in the solution – they also are investing in internal resources to ensure a successful implementation to achieve their desired results.
Closing a deal is an exchange of energies. Based on the commitment to deliver (seller) and to solve the problem to get the desired results (buyer), financial energy that opens the door to get the initial problems fixed and get the desired results is exchanged. Financial energy triggers the delivery of value. Financial energy triggers the actual problem solving. Financial energy also triggers the salesperson’s reward.
What are the reasons for “closing challenges?”
Most closing challenges stem from a lack of confidence and trust. The lack of confidence can come in different forms and shapes. If salespeople are not confident in the products and services they’re selling or in their organization’s ability to deliver, closing will always be a problem. That lack of confidence can come from things such as their own bad experiences or severe quality issues with current customers.
The lack of confidence often is an issue of the salesperson’s mindset and belief.
Maybe there is a challenge with the financial energy associated with the deal. Maybe it’s perceived as being too much or not enough. Maybe the commitment and responsibility (to deliver actual value) that comes with a closed deal is something the salesperson is unconsciously afraid of. Again, a confidence issue.
In the case of a B2B scenario where the salesperson is selling in the name of their organization, there is always a way to somehow hide behind the employer’s brand. Put the same salesperson in their own business, where they basically have to sell themselves and their services, and they will run into serious closing issues – no matter how excellent they are at solving a client’s problems, no matter how brilliant they are when it comes to building rapport, diagnosing a client’s issue and mapping out a perfect solution. When it comes to closing, the underlying confidence issues surface stronger than ever before because now, there is no place to hide; it’s about themselves. It all comes down to confidence.
Sales coaching is a great approach to overcome the root causes of closing challenges. (Click to tweet)
Assuming all necessary skill-development steps have been taken, closing issues are a specific sales coaching challenge that is very close to personal coaching. Based on that, if it becomes apparent that a salesperson has recurring challenges with closing, a coaching conversation should uncover the specific root causes of those challenges. Additionally, sales coaches should be able to provide guidance to clear those root causes with specific mindset work such as mental rehearsals. If this work is embedded in sales coaching sessions, all of the coaching work on skills and behaviors will be much more effective.
Specific challenges require specific coaching skills and expertise.
If you have established a formal or dynamic coaching approach, you can then focus on those special issues. It could make a lot of sense to work with specialized sales coaches for specific issues such as more mindset-oriented coaching work.
If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.
Questions for you:
- How do you enable your sellers when it comes to closing deals?
- How do you handle the mental approach to closing in your enablement initiatives?
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