The Reason You Aren’t Closing More Deals

hand shake

If you’ve been in sales long enough you know the age-old mantras. “Remember ABC. Always Be Closing!” “Coffee is for closers!” So on and so on. You need to close more deals. You think you have a closing problem. Well, like my man, and inspiration for this article, coach extraordinaire Lee Salz likes to say. “You don’t have a closing problem, you have a discovery problem.” Closing a deal is more likely to happen with a strong foundation. If your foundation is weak (the discovery phase of the deal) your deal is most likely doomed for limbo, lost to the status quo, or a competitor.

The Way It’s Done Now

Guy takes basic notes
Relax and take notes

I’ll bet dollars to donuts (if a dollar is worth that much by the time you read this) that most folks consider data gathering solid foundation building. Let’s say your company makes CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. You have a prospect on the phone, you whip out that questionnaire, and run through a list of questions from top to bottom

You: When do you want a new CRM system implemented?
Potential client: January 2nd
You: Who is involved in the decision?
Client: Myself, the sales leaders, and HR
You: What features are important to you?
Client: LinkedIn integration etc.

All done right?

All done meme

What You Need To Do Instead

Unfortunately, while these types of questions are needed to identify “the what” they aren’t enough to keep the deal energized. You have to do the work and dig deeper. For every data-gathering or horizontal question you ask, it should be followed by a series of vertical questions. Vertical questions are a psychiatric technique used to make others dig deeper and provide more than just surface-level information. They can be used to get to the meat of what’s going on. For example:

You: When do you want a new CRM system implemented?
Client: January 2nd
Vertical question follow-ups: What is magical about the January 2nd deadline? What happens if you miss the deadline? What tweaks did you try with the current system that brought you to the conclusion you need a new system? Who selected the current system? Who’s involved in the selection of the new system? What criteria are you using to select the new system? What other departments and systems will be affected by a change in CRM software?

Get it?

now i get it

While this requires more work on the front end, it will pay dividends on the back end by either

A)Helping you close more deals because you have a treasure trove of details that will help you keep it energized from beginning to end. Or
B)You’ll find out early the problem of theirs isn’t a problem at all, it’s just an inconvenience. Now you can move on to better prospects and not waste your time.

Practice Makes Perfect

rope workout
Like this but with your mind

Start training yourself to ask vertical questions. Write down a statement often made by your target customer base during the early data-gathering conversations (i.e. “I want to automate our HR processes.” “I want to reduce errors in the field.” etc), and then write as many vertical questions below it as you can think of. Do this once a day and pretty soon you’ll be a vertical question pro, with a solid deal foundation “like a man who built his house on the rock” -Jesus.
Then watch your close rate skyrocket.

God Bless.

Need more sales advice? Check out tips on how to sell to the big dawgs here.

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