Existing Customer = TLC

When it comes to closing sales with existing customers, the usual approach isn’t always the best.

We all know that it is easier to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. That is why your current clients deserve a little extra TLC to encourage repeat purchases and show how much you value their business.

Sure, you can simply ask for repeat orders. Happy customers will most likely oblige. But it’s not the most effective strategy for cultivating the long-term relationships that result in a steady stream of repeat business.

To make that happen, you need stay in touch and give them a little incentive to come back for more. Let your customers know when there are new products or special deals they may want to take advantage of.  Get to know their buying patterns and touch base shortly before they would normally make a purchase to alert them to any special offers.

Focus on up-selling and cross-selling returning customers, sweetening the pot by offering them special incentives to expand their relationship with you and your company. Finally, provide them with special terms, such as fixed pricing or retroactive discounts, in return for recurring or standing orders.

Reward your existing customers for their loyalty and they’ll reward you with higher sales.

Close faster –like lightning!

When it comes to closing a sale, there are two schools of thought. The first is to deal with objections at the end of your presentation. The second is to craft a presentation that overcomes those objections on the front end.

Which do you think achieves a faster close?

If you guessed the second approach, you’re correct. In the past, sales professionals were trained to focus most of their energies on overcoming objections on the back-end. But that old-school approach is being replaced by one that involves overcoming objections through a thoughtful presentation that includes well-crafted questions designed to addresses issues before they are raised.

The key is to identify a pattern among the objections and concerns expressed by prospects and deal with those throughout the sales process. It is a preemptive strike that helps prevent issues from becoming potential deal-breakers that are more difficult to overcome as they become more engrained in the prospect’s thinking.

Think of it this way—if your car tire is leaking, you don’t wait until it has gone completely flat and the rim is damaged beyond repair before getting it fixed. You get that leak plugged as soon as you find it to avoid the costs, frustrations and hassles of replacing both the tire and the rim.

The same applies to the sales process. If you’re constantly getting push back on details like financing options, payment terms or maintenance schedules, why not put that information right into your presentation? Doing so eliminates the objection before it can take root in your prospect’s mind and grow into something that can prolong the closing process.

Avoid Classic Closing Mistakes

Selling is easy – closing can be hard.

That is true, but only if you fall prey to the three common closing mistakes that have been known to trip up even the best sales people.

Topping that list is not asking for the sale. Strange as it may sound, many sales reps fail to bring the sales process to its natural conclusion because they ask the prospect for their thoughts or opinions on the product in question rather than asking them to actually buy it.

To avoid this trap, end the meeting by summarizing everything the prospect has said they are looking for and how your offering meets those expectations. Highlight any benefits that come with making an immediate commitment to buy and get them excited about their purchase.

The second most common closing mistake is one we touched on last week:  ignoring the signals your prospect is sending about their readiness to buy. Back off on the sales pitch long enough to hear what they are saying. Too many sales are lost because an over-eager (or perhaps nervous) sales pro talked right past the prospect’s acknowledgement that they were, in fact, ready to buy.

The final mistake is letting past experiences negatively affect the situation at hand. If the last meeting ended in rejection, shake it off and plaster on that positive attitude before facing your next prospect. Along those same lines, going in with the attitude that this sale is a “sure thing” because the last meeting ended in success can be equally off-putting for the prospect. It’s never a done-deal until the sale is closed.

Sales success comes from projecting a positive attitude, approaching each opportunity with enthusiasm, paying attention to what your prospect is saying and – ultimately – leading them to the close by asking them to buy.

A Less Painful Close

Even top sales pros can find themselves stumped when it comes to closing the deal. But there are ways to take the pain out of what can be the stickiest – and trickiest – part of the entire sales cycle.

For starters, be upfront about what you’re selling and why you think it will benefit your prospect’s business. I don’t mean you should go in for the hard sell. I mean you shouldn’t hide behind the façade of wanting to “explore partnership opportunities” or “get to know the company and industry” when what you really want to do is sell something.

I’ve talked in the past about the importance of impressing prospects from the start with your reliability, responsiveness and trustworthiness. One of the best rewards for doing so is a faster, smoother close.

Also, be alert to the signals your prospect is sending that it’s time to shift from selling to closing. Listen for clues. Are they asking questions about delivery options or whether specific features or services are available? Are they complimenting the product or identifying with the benefits your service will provide? If so, they are ready to buy.

Along those same lines, be sensitive to the prospect’s emotional cues. If they are giving off a negative vibe, hold off on pushing to close. You risk losing the sale by inadvertently tapping into whatever is causing their bad mood. Conversely, if the vibe is positive and upbeat, it may be the perfect time to move in for the close.

Finally, don’t over-close. Even the best sales pros can get caught up in the thrill of the chase – or the fear of rejection – and just keep talking even after the customer has agreed to buy. Get the commitment, extend your thanks and appreciation and shut up.