I can’t believe I am using the “C” word already, but according to the news it is going up quickly and some stores are even opening Santa Grottos before the end of this month!
As the mentor and business development guy for many exciting growth businesses, it’s been an interesting summer.
The amazing Olympics and mostly bad weather seem to have had an effect on the flow of deals and while the companies I know well are still moving forward, the majority have seen momentum slow a little over the last couple of months. I have no doubt that momentum will build strongly again, but as I work with clients focussing on the next 3 months December is now appearing on the forecast sheets!
In my experience many people have a mental block when it comes to doing business in December, they believe that December includes that time of the year when many businesses stop buying and start thinking about 2013. Of course businesses should and will be planning for 2013, I will be blogging about how and why, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be buying in December if the deal is right.
A phone-call on Monday really brought this into focus.
One of my clients confidently told me he and his sales force had six deals on the table and they were looking forward to closing the deals before Christmas, ready to start delivery in the New Year.
It was all very positive-sounding but it is my role to challenge these things. Unfortunately, as it turned out, only two out of the six deals on the table are realistically going to close before Christmas.
This isn’t the end of the world at all. The other four should close early 2013 and at least he can get his sales force to plan effectively and either
- look for more deals, or
- allocate his resources differently.
But it could have been bad news.
Qualifying a prospect is probably one of the most important elements for you and your sales force, especially if you are a small business.
If you don’t qualify a prospect, you will waste time trying to sell to people who don’t have the right buying signals in place.
Focusing only on the right prospects will always give you a mental advantage. Why? Because you get in to the ‘win-win’ habit every time.
The 8 Key Steps to Closing Deals Before Christmas
The 8 key stages can easily be remembered with the term SCOTSMAN with each letter representing a stage.
(S) Solution - Have you clarified if your prospect understands what it is that you wish to sell them. What is your solution and why will it work for them?
(C) Competition – Are you aware of any other sales force competing with you to sell to your prospect or for the money they may use to buy from you? Your competition could be internal as well as external.
(O) Objective – Have you a clear understanding of what your client is looking for and why they are in the market? What is important to them now and in the future? Do you improve their services or processes, or do you save them money?
(T) Time scales – Have you clarified what time scale the prospect is working to? Can you deliver within that time scale? Does the time scale work for you? Is there a timing factor that could be used in your favour, for example a financial year end?
(S) Size – Is the potential size of the deal worth the effort needed to win the business? Have you a clear picture of the size of the deal? Is it smaller than ideal but could open doors? Is it too big and may have a detrimental impact on your business?
(M) Money – Does the prospect have the money in budget to pay for your solution? If they don’t have a budget, can they find the money or do you need to consider walking away?
(A) Authority – Are you speaking to the decision maker? The person who ultimately will sign the cheque? Are they even aware that you are speaking to their company? It is no longer imperative to deal with just the decision maker, there is a value in dealing with another contact within the business but very few pieces of business are completed without the main authority signing off on it.
(N) Need – Does the prospect actually NEED your solution? Very few deals happen in the current climate without a clear need. There are many reasons why they may need your solution and it is key that you find out which one is relevant and focus on it.
If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all the questions about qualifying prospects, then your chances of closing deals are extremely high.
Very few deals will actually happen if one or more of these 8 key stages are missing, and the time you may waste on chasing shadows can never be taken back.
It can be very seductive to get sucked into thinking that every deal will happen. There is a sort of comfort in having a large pipeline that “could” close.
But I would encourage you to qualify properly and allow yourself to focus only the deals that have a chance.
You are always better off closing 3 out of 5 good prospects. If you try to close 2 out of 10 prospects, your focus and resources will be stretched thin.
If you found this post remotely interesting or useful, you may want to take a glance at the ones linked below.
I will surely remember these tips by heart. This is a great help for me more especially that Christmas is fast approching... Thank you for sharing.
I will definitely keep this in mind.. Thanks for a great post! Keep posting some more great post like this.. Love to visit some more info like this..
Thanks for the great tips! I really learned a lot from you. :) That is a great keys to have a increasing deals before Christmas..
Great article - thanks for sharing! I'm using most of these steps apart from O. S. and M. I've found tracking these steps via a CRM has helped and using a professional quote proposal software (quote roller) improves the conversion rate even more : http://bit.ly/tn23OK