Why Can't You Close a Sale?

1 August, 2014

Years ago, before I started my own business, I was in a field sales role for a short while, where truth be told I didn’t perform too badly. I knew nothing really about systems and processes, I knew nothing about closing a sale – well not consciously - yet I still in my third quarter topped the sales table and successfully grew a previously dormant territory. The advantage that I had was I lacked fear and had very few prejudices. In fact, my sales boss advised me not to go into an account purely based on his prejudices, which I ignored and became friends with the owner who happened to be married to the head of one of the largest customer groups in the area and arranged for me to be put in front of the buyers...that is a different story.

Anyway, my success was down to a lack of fear and a genuine interest in people. The reality was that I was equally as comfortable drinking thick black coffee watching Al Jazeera news with Arab prospects as I was with a Procurement Manager in the NHS. In fact my portfolios of clients included more than half dozen cultures and nationalities as well as different customer needs and requirements. I didn’t know it at the time but it was my passion to find out what made these people tick, what was their history, their story, and how could I play a positive part in their lives that led me to make some very natural closes. In some respects, the fact that the ‘deal’ was secondary to the human interest pretty much summed up my approach – open, inquisitive and empathetic - which led to a situation where the prospects felt totally comfortable in telling me exactly what would be required to bring them on board as a customer.
The natural ground work in building genuine relationships meant that unwittingly I had contributed to the most natural thing on earth - trust between two human beings that allows them to like you enough to be honest with you. The result? they closed the sale for me! Now of course I can thank my family for bringing me up in a way where I was able to nurture and develop these attributes, but they can be learned - even by the oldest of dogs with the longest of teeth!
So here is my conclusion after watching literally hundreds of sales attempts fail. The reason people can’t close a sale is because they misunderstand that the actual sales process begins with the very first contact. Instead of being up tight, nervous and full of fear the sales person should have dropped their guard completely, opened their mind and shown genuine interest in the other human being opposite them. They should spend time finding out who their prospect is and how they got to where they are. They should have enjoyed the fact that in a sales role you get to meet many wonderful people with some many fascinating stories to tell. That it is in fact one, if not the, greatest roles on earth – a role where you get to share stories and history with other humans beings.
You can’t close a sale because you are focused on the sale and the money, when you should be focused on the sentient human being with needs, wants and desires as you yourself have sat right opposite you.
Enjoy meeting all these wonderful people and let them close for you.