7 first-aid treatments for a sick close ratio
A few weeks ago I wrote about 7 easy-to-overlook factors that will trash your close ratio. Looking back, I realize that, as helpful as that heads-up may have been, it would have been even better to follow up with suggestions on how to NOT overlook those potential problems. So, on the theory that late really is better than never, here are some solutions.
Clearly define and articulate the value clients receive from you.
Not having a clear sense of your own value will bite you in the ass SO many ways. It:
- causes you appear tentative when you speak with prospects (Can you say, “Not worth your money”?)
- makes it hard to set and stick to pricing that will actually allow you to buy groceries
- erodes your confidence
- leaves you drowning you in a sea of competition
Your value statement should address how your prospect’s life will be better as a result of working with you. And since people tend to buy emotionally and justify the decision rationally, be sure to articulate the emotional as well as the practical outcomes your clients can expect. (Emotional outcomes include less stress, more confidence, greater calm, more courage, and higher energy. Practical outcomes increased revenues, greater productivity, tighter focus, and less self-sabotage.)
Whichever outcomes you talk about, be sure your experience and illustrative case studies back up your talk; the last thing you want to do is pull a bait-and-switch on prospects. At best, you’d lose them forever; at worst, their negative word of mouth will make it harder to get new clients.
Stop blaming yourself for past mistakes and start learning from them.
At times, all of us are slow learners. However, if you keep repeating past mistakes, life’s not gonna get better any time soon.
Personally, I find it works pretty well to spend a very brief time wallowing in rolling-my-eyes, irritated-with-myself mode, then take a deep breath and ask what I now know NOT to do in the future. If you try this approach, you’ll find it enables you to acknowledge any negative feelings associated with the mistake without obsessing over them or viewing a simple screw-up as a catastrophe.
Evaluate successful endeavors to create processes and templates for future success and effectiveness.
Re-inventing the wheel is something everyone has probably done at one time or another. This raises an interesting question: Why?
You’ve heard it said a zillion times: It’s cheaper and easier to keep an existing client than to acquire a new one. Similarly, it’s cheaper (in terms of time and energy) and easier to identify and replicate actions that have gotten you the results you want, rather than treat a recurring situation as brand new every time you encounter it.
For example, I used to waste time and energy creating new copy for the emails I send out to alert readers to a new blog post. Then one day, I was struck by a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious): just cut and paste copy from the introduction of the actual post, and use that for the email copy. Duh!
Now, instead of re-inventing the copy wheel, I do my email immediately after scheduling the blog for publication. I leave my WordPress site open so I can copy the relevant text, then click to the next tab and insert it into my MailChimp email. I even use the same image for the blog and the email. SO much easier and more efficient!
Spend your valuable time talking to and engaging your people, not just anyone who has a pulse.
With so many communication channels available these days, entrepreneurs are at risk for scattering their efforts and diluting their focus. Also, it’s tempting to focus on more follows, more likes, more friends…without asking whether that “more” is doing you and your business any good.
Focus, clarity, and courage are keys to a kick-ass close ratio.
Sometimes talking to enough of the right people and engaging them powerfully is easier said than done. The challenge is getting clear on who your ideal client is and figuring out where they hang out. (I like to connect with my peeps both online and in person, when possible.)
Ask for the damn sale.
Not asking for the sale remains a common problem for many entrepreneurs, especially those in service businesses. It’s as if they somehow feel that it’s wrong, if you’re truly going to be of service, to charge for your work.
This attitude is not only disrespectful of your own skills and value, but it leaves the prospect dangling – and often leaves money on the table.
If you’re talking to a prospect, she probably already has a clue that you have a product or service you want her to invest in. If you don’t follow through by asking for the sale, she’s left wondering why she just wasted her time with you – and she may also be disappointed you didn’t give her a chance to purchase.
So if you’re convinced this is a good prospect for you because she has problems you can help her solve, it makes perfect sense for you to ask for the sale.
The trick here is to ask for the sale only when you and the prospect are a good fit for each other. That’s where the next strategy come into play.
Be confident enough to walk away from the wrong prospect – and let her see that confidence.
Acting desperate for the sale is one of the most effective ways to turn off a prospect. Nobody wants to feel like you’re holding them responsible for your next mortgage payment.
It takes a lot of faith to turn down the wrong prospect, but you’ll be rewarded for your courage when you’re talking to the right prospect. She’ll be able to tell you’re willing to walk away if the fit is bad, so your confidence about being able to get her over her obstacles will build her confidence about hiring you.
It will be much easier for you and your prospect to feel calm and confident if you apply the last strategy before your get-acquainted call.
Lay the groundwork for a productive prospect conversation.
While you definitely want to close a sales that’s in the best interests of you and your prospect, you don’t want to come across as a vulture who just wants to take her money and shift to the next hapless victim.
Instead, you and the prospect are both far better served if you set an expectation for your conversation: The purpose is for both of you to determine if you want to work together. This implicitly lets her know that you are reserving the right to tell her “no, thanks” if she’s not a good fit for you.
This lowers the prospect’s guard, since she knows you’re willing to say “no” rather than clamp your teeth in her throat and refuse to let go. AND it lets her know up front that you do expect a (mutual) decision to be reached by the end of the call.
I’ll typically prepare for a client get-acquainted call by sending an email explicitly stating my expectation that we’ll mutually come to a go/no go/go later decision about working together. Then I pose three or four broad-based questions about the pain she’s experiencing and ask her to send me her written answers prior to our call. This enables me to more effectively and efficiently qualify her (i.e., decide if I want to work with her) AND uncover her pain (i.e., demonstrate why it’s to her advantage to work with me).
What are some of the most effective things you’ve done to improve your close ratio over time? Please share them in the comments section below so the rest of us can get some new tools. As thanks for your input, I’ll send you a no-charge copy of Their Pain, Your Profit: How to Qualify Prospects and Uncover Their Pain, a guide to creating effective get-acquainted calls for your own business.
And if you liked this post, be sure to sign up for previews of my weekly posts so you can pick and choose the topics that are exactly what you need right now.
(BTW, thanks to Erich Ferdinand for posting his image of the first-aid rhino in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in marketing and tagged business development, sales. Bookmark the permalink.