In this installment of Virtual Selling; Concrete Results episode – I’ll share an easy-to-implement strategy for increasing your probability of securing a decision or commitment at the end of your virtual sales conversation.
Stalled Opportunities and Ghosting
One of the most challenging outcomes for sales conversations that I hear about are stalled opportunities and ghosting. These outcomes often result from the absence of a clear request for commitment and action.
This is challenging because in most cases these outcomes can be preempted with a stronger consolidation or closure to that sales conversation.
A Productive Information Exchange is Key
Whether we’re virtual or not, what’s important in any sales conversation is that the time and information exchange was productive for all parties involved.
What does that mean? It means the situation has advanced in some way – with either a decision or commitment to a next step.
The good news is we can lead this outcome in our conversations.
So, since this is a series on virtual selling, what’s different about the end of the sales conversation when we’re virtually “closing”?
How Virtual Closes Differ from In-Person Closes
We can’t “read” the buyers the same way as if we were in physical proximity. We don’t see what’s happening at all if we’re on the telephone or if we’re on video, we only see what the camera captures.
What we need to do then is make sure we have a more audible focus to help us with our confidence in asking for a decision, and to increase the buyer’s confidence that they are ready for what is next.
What Gets in the Way of an Effective Close?
It sounds easy enough doesn’t it? Yet a couple of things get in the way:
- Confidence in ourselves that we’ve offered enough value
- Their confidence you can address their problem, capture an opportunity, or solve their want or need.
The 3-Step Finish Increases Confidence
The good news is that the framework I’ll share will help increase the confidence for both of you!
I call it the 3-Step Finish, so that we remember there are 3 components to the strategy.
The 3 components are:
- Check for readiness
- Confirm value
- Ask for a specific decision or commitment
Ask Readiness Questions
First, focus on the verbal cues. Prompt their responses with readiness questions to determine their state of readiness for doing something.
You’re not seeking a decision at this point; your objective is to ask for their opinions and questions to help them (and yourself) identify if they are ready to move forward.
Asking readiness questions is a safe way of “testing the water” before jumping into the deep end.
Ask questions such as:
- What final questions do you have?
- What else would be helpful as you make your decision?
- How comfortable are you with what we’ve discussed?
- Do you have any other questions or concerns? Yes, it’s closed-ended and getting a “no” here is a good thing because they don’t have any other questions!
- What are your thoughts on what we’ve recommended?
Pause and Let Them Talk
Then pause to let them talk. A good amount of the time, their responses may include a “How do we get started?” sort of question or statement. And you move forward.
If the responses don’t give you an answer to a commitment or decision – then follow the readiness check with a confirmation of value.
Bring the buyer back to the outcome or solution that working with you will provide them. Refocus them on what is most important – addressing their problem, capturing their opportunity, or solving a want or need they have.
You’re going to say something like:
“Bob and Joanne, as we discussed, in working together we will….” Then express the outcomes that are most important to them. These are the benefits that were high priority.
We’re going to:
- Tackle the planning for your retirement.
- Reduce your stress around the situation as you see progress.
- Meet your deadlines consistently.
- Capture the opportunity to leverage the windfall you received.
- Ensure the work you have put into xxx pays off for you.
- Allow you more time to focus on higher priorities (be specific on those priorities).
After the confirmation of value — the What’s in it for Them — pause.
Pause and See What Happens
They may have something to say or ask at that point. If they do it will be important for you to pay attention because it’s going to be about what’s most important for them. If it’s a concern to work through, I addressed this in the previous episode of this series.
Ask for a Decision or Commitment
If there is no response, or just a head nodding, then segue into asking for a decision or commitment to action.
Ask questions such:
- Should we initiate the paperwork so we can officially begin working together? Or should we initiate the paperwork so we can begin working on xxxx (what is important to them)?
- Would you like to schedule a start date or planning meeting?
- Will you initiate a purchase order?
- Are you ready to sign the agreement?
If you don’t’ ask for something specific, they can’t answer! And you often have assumptions versus decisions or commitments.
Set Clear Expectations
Once you have a decision — conclude your virtual conversation with clear expectations and next steps.
Who is doing what by when?
Also include how these actions will be completed so there is no missed expectation going forward
Leading a productive sales conversation means setting expectations and having a clear path forward. This sets you up for easier next steps and less ghosting and chasing.
When you consciously close the conversation, you will find your opportunities – whether virtual or not – move forward as needed.
And I’ll wrap up this Virtual Selling; Concrete Results series with one more video where I’ll share follow-up strategies.
See you then.