In today’s highly competitive business environment, you know that you need to pursue leads aggressively in order to maintain or increase market share. You devote substantial resources to winning business, negotiating terms and closing the deal. You then work hard to make sure that you fulfill your client's needs. Nonetheless, the results sometimes fall short of your desired goals. When that happens, it is essential that you look at your sales processes to learn why.
Choose Your Clients Carefully
When you focus solely or even mostly on winning business, a “beggars can’t be choosers” mentality sometimes comes into play. Closing the deal takes precedence over the critical question of whether an opportunity is actually right for your company, or if it makes more sense to walk away from it. Establishing objective criteria for qualifying clients is essential if you don’t want to make this mistake.
One way to look at the process of qualifying clients is to formulate criteria using an insurance industry standard known as the “Three C’s” – capacity, capital and character. Ask yourself if your company has the capacity to not just win the client’s business, but also see the project through. Do you have the human, organizational and financial resources to meet the customer's expectations effectively and deliver on your promises in a cost-effective way? If not, the price of closing the deal can be high. Cost and time overruns will quickly eat into profits, while unhappy customers can damage your reputation swiftly and irreparably, especially in the digital age.
Take the time to evaluate your history with a client before deciding to pursue a sale. Was the client forthright and candid during prior negotiations? Was he able to clearly articulate his needs and provide appropriate feedback if they changed? What type of payment history does the customer have with your company? Consider these factors when you are evaluating whether closing the deal is going to cost you more than it’s worth.
Successful negotiations require that both parties maintain a certain amount of leverage. In most transactions, the customer already has leverage because he is free to choose between you and your competitors, and he knows that winning his business is your ultimate goal. Your leverage comes from knowing what the customer needs and values. You must posses unshakable certainty that your company can deliver both of those things on budget and on time.
Before entering into negotiations, do your research and have your strategy prepared. During the process, pay close attention to the client’s questions and give him only enough information to move the conversation along. Don’t give away too much too quickly, or you lose your leverage before closing the deal. Further, never make any promises you are not certain you can fulfill.
Winning over a client only benefits your company if you deliver on what you promise. Customers expect excellence, and they are quick to share with other potential clients when a company falls short. Closing deals is important, but your closing skills are wasted if you fail to follow through. Ensure that every win is a real win by delivering flawlessly on your value proposition every time you sell.
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