Making the presentation is only the beginning of the process! There are plenty of great presenters who also have serious difficulty actually closing the deal. Why? Because their feedback loops with their buyers need much improvement.
Too many salespeople spend a considerable amount of time on preparing to present their products/services but precious little time on building the feedback loop. Getting a deal done requires plenty of “after the pitch” information from the buyer. Trying to close without that is basically flying blind. Wishful thinking and making dreamy assumptions won’t make it happen! The question “Where do I stand?” should never have a vague answer.
The best test of a feedback loop is how close the final deal matches up with the salesperson’s expectations. Whether a deal comes in as a big surprise or a tough disappointment, the fact is that the salesperson was not as engaged as they should have been. A solid feedback loop with a buyer means that there is consistent and constructive communication between both parties as the deal materializes. In addition, it’s almost impossible to forecast accurately without a reliable feedback loop.
Here are some tips on building a feedback loop that works:
1. Try to establish the length of the deal cycle. At the end of the initial presentation meeting, simply ask the buyer when you can expect the deal to close. The buyer’s response will obviously tell you how much time you have to get a deal done or if the deal is merely speculative on the buyer’s part.
2. Never offer a client additional concessions simply to justify connecting with them after the initial presentation. Too often, salespeople get “nervous” if they haven’t heard from the buyer, and end up giving away something just for the sake of having a reason to call the buyer. If this becomes a habit, a buyer will simply wait for the salesperson to panic and thereby get concessions without even asking for them.
3. Maintain a sense of momentum by offering additional information, insights, etc. that keep the conversation going. This is both good customer service and a way to get valuable feedback about where the deal stands. Buyers simply hate “How’s it looking?” inquiries from sellers. Contacting them with fresh and valuable information, insights, suggestions is much more proactive and even welcome in many cases.
4. Probe on specific details of the deal without retreating from the original offer. This should only be done after offering that additional information. Focus on the deal points from the original presentation that the buyer may not have fully agreed with and see if they still have lingering concerns about them. This probing process should never come close to any discussion of the bottom line, but only the critical elements of the deal.
5. Follow through on any commitments made at the time of the presentation and remind the buyer that they are being delivered as promised. Quite often, sellers will be asked for more information during the initial presentation meeting. Providing it is another perfect opportunity to connect and then probe about the buyer’s take on specific components of a deal.
6. Telephone and live meetings should be utilized instead of emails whenever possible. Verbal clues and body language are incredibly important. Buyers also tend to be very cautious if and when they respond to emails. Emails should only be used to convey objective information and data. Selling is the ultimate “people business” and voice and/or personal contact will always be crucial for gauging where the seller stands on a given deal.
Closing a sale is much easier to accomplish with a solid feedback loop. All of the potential objections will have been addressed, and “asking for the order” becomes the next logical step. The best closers know that their feedback loop is more valuable than their initial presentation in making a sale. How’s yours?