How many times have you said one of the following phrases?
I need to close the deal.
I want to close the sale.
We gotta get a close on this client.
Close the deal or you're fired.
Just get the close.
If you've worked in selling professional services six months or six years, it is likely you've referred to the final step in the sales process as a close. For over a decade and a half in my work and study of the sales process, I've come to resent the word 'close' when it comes to the sales process. I think your use of the word might be what's hurting your firm or company as well.
Coming to An End?
To close something implies that things between you and your client are coming to an end. Once you close this deal, it's on to other things. If you're a business development manager for a professional services company, that may be partially true. You will be moving on to other things, but what if the managers and other operations personnel in your firm also take the word 'close' a little too seriously?
What I mean by that, is what if these administrators hear the words 'I closed the deal' and it causes them to relax just a little too much? Maybe they lean back a little bit and think that the client relationship is now secure and that since there's ink on the page, no one has anything to prove.
The above example might seem extreme, but I personally witnessed time and time again the immediate slacking off of performance once a deal is closed and it frightens me. No business development representative goes out to win new business just to watch it slip through the firm's metaphorical fingers six months later.
There's got to be a better way.
A Better Way
Really, there never is such a thing as a ‘close’ in professional services. It's always in your best interest to remember that. Instead of ‘closing’ anything, let’s work to get commitments. The entire sales process is a series of attempts to get commitments from the prospective client while promising to keep commitments in return.
You've got to get commitments from your prospective clients to consider using your services and that leads to getting the commitment from them to pay to use your services. All along the way, you are making commitments to them to make sure the connection is there and it is real. Getting commitments is what all of this is about and hopefully you will make it into a regular habit.
Brush Up on Getting Commitments
So, how do we work to get commitments? You're probably pretty good at it now. If you do feel as though you need to brush up your skills, I go into the process deeper in my soon-to-be-published book: Better Business Development Now: A Bare Bones Guide to Get More Clients!
Check it out on Amazon soon!