13 Keys to Closing More Sales in a Down Market

Do you find that sales, leads, and opportunities just roll in effortlessly some months—while other months, they’re nowhere to be found?

Or have you ever engaged with prospects who seem enthusiastic at first—but then they completely ghost on you after you present?

How about those prospects who ask you for a proposal—and then tell you they’re going to get back to you, but you never hear from them again?

Finally, do you ever deal with prospects who say they want all the value you have to offer—but then they push back on price?

If you’re dealing with any of the issues mentioned above, the real problem is that you’re stuck in the old approach to selling.

Chances are, you haven’t applied the new selling model that gives you so much more control over each sales opportunity.

So, in this video, I’m going to show you exactly what the ineffective old approach to selling looks like. Then I’m going to show you the 13 keys to closing more sales by using the new, improved approach to selling. Check it out.

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Closing More Sales Key #1: Ditch the haphazard prospecting.

Closing More Sales Key #1: Ditch the haphazard prospecting.The old approach to selling will probably seem pretty familiar to you. Before you can ditch this ineffective sales strategy, however, you must first clearly identify what it looks like so you can avoid its pitfalls. The first main component of the old approach to selling that you must learn to avoid is haphazard prospecting.

Most salespeople try to get leads from a range of different places without a clear or consistent strategy for how to do so. They might make cold calls one day, send emails the next, and go on LinkedIn a bit here and there—but there’s no cohesive process holding it all together.

A haphazard lead generation process ultimately leads to an inconsistent lead generation funnel and prevents you from closing more sales. If you look at your work calendar and see that this week is insanely busy, but next week is mostly free, that’s a good indication that you’re doing haphazard prospecting.

You can’t get off this roller coaster of inconsistent lead generation until you kick haphazard prospecting to the curb.

Key #2: Stop pitching.

Key #2: Stop pitching.We’ll dive into this more later, but the important thing to know is that pitching is a hallmark of the old approach to selling. Most salespeople go right into a hard pitch when talking to a prospect, talking about all the reasons why the prospect should do business with them.
This might be you if you use a PowerPoint slide deck at the beginning of your sales conversations, and the first couple of slides talk about you and your company. If so, you’re pitching. Putting an end to the hard pitch is essential to closing more sales, especially in a down market.

Sales Key #3: No more probing.

Sales Key #3: No more probing.I like to call this the “what’s keeping you up at night?” approach. Asking probing questions like this is not only ineffective, but it immediately makes the prospect want to hop off the phone or extricate themselves from the interaction.

If your cold emails and phone calls use phrasing such as, “I’d love to learn more about your business, so that way we can talk about how we can help you” or “I’d love to pick your brain about what keeps you up at night, so that way we can talk about how we can support you”—then you’re probing, and it’s time to stop.

Think about it: What prospect in their right mind wants to waste their time educating a salesperson on their business? It’s a red flag when you begin the sales conversation with this old-school probing approach.

Now, of course, you should be asking lots of questions throughout the sales process—but you should never start off the conversation with a probing question. You need to build up value first, and even then only ask questions that are strategic for closing more sales.

Closing More Sales Key #4: Stop arm-wrestling over objections.

Closing More Sales Key #4: Stop arm-wrestling over objections.Salespeople stuck in the old approach to selling tend to get in arm-wrestling matches with prospects over their objections. If you’re using the old approach to selling, your prospects will inevitably have some objections, and you’ll find that you often get trapped into a back-and-forth with the prospect with no clear solution. This is highly problematic. Keep reading to learn more about how to deal with objections in the new approach to selling—by avoiding them in the first place.

Key #5: Never use a hard close.

Key #5: Never Use a Hard CloseThe next hallmark of the old-school approach to selling is the hard close. This is where salespeople try super hard to get the prospect to make the decision to do business with them right on the spot. The problem is that this hard close will feel strange and pushy to the prospect most of the time, because the old approach to selling doesn’t do a good job of convincing the prospect up front that you’re the person who can actually solve their challenges.

The new approach to selling is a series of mini-closes throughout the sales process, culminating in a next step rather than a hard close. This is integral to closing more sales.

Sales Key #6: Don’t chase after prospects.

Sales Key #6: Don’t chase after prospects.Within the old-school sales model, prospects frequently aren’t ready to make a decision at the end of the sales conversation—and this is where many salespeople hear the dreaded phrase, “I need to think it over.” I like to call these TIOs—Think It Overs.

TIOs usually go something like this: “Hey, that was great. You did such a good job. I need to think about it. Can you get back to me later?” And then the salesperson says, “Of course.”

At this point, the salesperson enters into the follow-up phase—and they’re off chasing the prospect from then on. This process tends to repeat itself over and over again when you are stuck in the old approach to selling. And of course, Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result…

Chances are, the idea of chasing prospects is pretty familiar to you. Keep reading to find out how to avoid this whole process with the new approach to selling that leads to closing more sales.

Key #7: Implement a process.

Key #7: Implement a process.The new approach to sales all starts right here—with a process. Out in the real world, most salespeople are just winging the sales process. (Remember when we talked about the pitfalls of haphazard prospecting?) If you don’t know exactly what you’re going to say when you’re in front of a prospect, then you’re winging your sales process, too—and hurting your chances of closing more sales.

If a prospect says, “Why should I do business with you?” what’s your immediate response going to be? Do you have that process laid out? Do you know the questions you’re going to ask? Do you know exactly how you’re going to share value with your prospects throughout the conversation? Do you know how you’re going to present in a way that will engage them? If you said no to any of these questions, then chances are, you don’t have a sales process in place.

Just think about it: When you became a salesperson, what was the process you implemented in order to get up and running? It probably consisted of shadowing some of the top reps at your company, or listening in on calls, or maybe just getting a list of leads and starting to call them. Maybe you’ve got some minimal scripting in place for your sales calls, but it’s more likely that you didn’t actually get a proven process to follow in order to hit your sales numbers.

Most of the time, salespeople are simply lacking an actual process to get them up and running. Other professionals receive significant training on process before starting the job—such as CPAs, attorneys, doctors, nurses, etc. And yet salespeople (who, in many cases, can make far more money than those in the professions that I just mentioned) very rarely get real training on selling.

This is why it’s so important to implement and stick with an actual process for selling. This is the foundational step to getting started with the new approach to selling that can lead to closing more sales.

Closing More Sales Key #8: Do the opposite of what’s expected.

Closing More Sales Key #8: Do the opposite of what’s expected.The first component of your new approach to selling is that you must do the opposite of what’s expected of you, right from the start of the sales conversation. That means no pitching.

Remember earlier on, when we talked about how pitching is ineffective and immediately turns prospects off, preventing you from closing more sales? Well, the opposite of pitching is sharing insight.

Instead of pitching, it’s time to start your conversations by presenting valuable insight to the prospect. Demonstrate that you have some real knowledge and expertise to offer, and that you have a valuable point of view into your prospect’s world.

This insight has got to be prepared and ready to go. No more winging it.

Closing More Sales Key #9: Focus on WIIFM.

Closing More Sales Key #9: Focus on WIIFM.WIIFM stands for What’s In It For Me? And this is the radio station that your prospects are constantly tuned into. They don’t care about anything unless it helps them. So that’s why your new sales approach must focus on answering the WIIFM question for your prospects.

If your prospects can’t clearly answer What’s In It For Me? early on in the sales conversation, then they’re simply not going to want to continue talking to you.

The best way to focus on WIIFM is to—you guessed it—share insight with the prospect. We talked about this briefly in the section above, but you need to go into every sales conversation armed with some valuable insight that you can use to engage your prospects in a real conversation. The goal is to have the prospect think, “This person understands my world. I’m willing to hear what they have to say and answer their questions.”

This doesn’t mean you’re there to educate them, or to give them tons of free consulting. You just need to share enough insight to get the prospect to see you as the expert, so they let their guard down and open up to you. This is ultimately what will lead to closing more sales.

Key #10: Disqualify prospects.

Key #10: Disqualify prospects.The new approach to selling includes a process for making sure that prospects are a fit for what you sell, while enabling you to demonstrate value at the same time. This is all about disqualifying prospects, and salespeople can use this disqualification process to cut out many years’ worth of selling pain.

You’ve probably been taught to persuade prospects to do business with you. Or maybe, if you’ve gotten some better sales training, you’ve been taught to qualify prospects. But I would argue that while you certainly shouldn’t be persuading prospects, you don’t need to be qualifying them either. What you need to do is disqualify them if you ultimately want to be closing more sales.

The goal is to actually determine who needs what you have to offer, and who doesn’t. If they don’t need it, get them out of your world as quickly as possible. That’s the heart of disqualification.

This way, you’re left only spending your time having deeper conversations with those prospects who need or want what you have to offer. You don’t waste time on anyone else. And once you determine who needs what you have to offer, the next step is to disqualify those who aren’t going to buy. Remember, just because someone needs what you’re selling, doesn’t mean that they have the budget or the authority to make the decision to buy.

So disqualification is key, and it comes down to having a specific set of questions to ask over and over again of prospects, to ultimately determine: 1) whether they’re a fit in the first place (and if they’re not, move on); and 2) if they are a fit, to help them recognize the value in really engaging with you and ultimately buying from you.

That’s why a disqualification process is key to the new approach to selling that will lead to closing more sales.

Closing More Sales Key #11: Don’t present; solve.

Closing More Sales Key #11: Don’t present; solve.Most salespeople present features and benefits, talking about the benefits of doing business with them, and all the cool features that prospects get when they buy. But you don’t want to present; you want to solve the prospect’s problems. The presentation is your opportunity to demonstrate that you can solve the prospect’s most pressing challenges.

The presentation should really be the shortest phase of the sales process. If you’ve done a good job up until this point, then most of the work has already been done in the disqualification phase. The presentation should almost be like a formality.

To give a great presentation that leads to closing more sales, you should only present to the challenges mentioned by the prospect during the sales conversation, and use case studies and examples of how you’ve helped similar customers solve similar challenges. That’s it. It’s that simple.

Key #12: Know your prospecting blueprint.

Key #12: Know your prospecting blueprint.A prospecting blueprint is simply a plan for generating more sales opportunities—and ultimately closing more sales. We’ve discussed several times how most salespeople do haphazard prospecting. The prospecting blueprint is the antidote to this common problem in sales.

This is a systematic process to generate the right opportunities and put them into your funnel on a consistent basis. So many sales problems go away when you have a good prospecting blueprint to follow.

The prospecting blueprint is one of the key things that separates top performers from everyone else in sales. Top performers follow a prospecting blueprint, always.

I challenge you to map out your prospecting activities and follow the blueprint for hitting your sales goals. How often are you making your calls? When are you sending your emails? And when are you making your LinkedIn requests? How often are you sending out packages? Your prospecting blueprint should contain about 20 “touches” per prospect. The data shows us that a prospect usually needs about 18 or so touches before they’re likely to engage with a salesperson. Be sure to reach out in different ways, too—don’t just send 20 emails or make 20 dials. That way, by the time you actually get the prospect on the phone, they know who you are and they’ve seen your varied outreach over the course of some time. They recognize that there’s value in talking to you.

The mere act of recognizing that you should have a mapped-out prospecting blueprint is going to make a huge impact on your ability to generate enough leads so you start hitting your sales goals and closing more sales.

Sales Key #13: Utilize mentorship or coaching.

Sales Key #13: Utilize mentorship or coaching.If the ideas in this article sound useful to you, then the next step is for you to find a way to put it all together and actually implement the strategy in your selling approach. The most effective way to do this is to invest in mentorship and learn a proven process. That’s why the top salespeople are always sharpening their saw, always improving the quality of their craft through mentorship or coaching.

Trying to figure this out on your own can feel like trying to build a car with different parts—you’ve got a Chevy part here, a Honda part there, and a Mercedes there, and none of it is coming together the way it should. Mentorship is the key to making it work. I invested in mentorship in my own selling career, learned the process, and never looked back. The goal here is to cut out years of pain in your selling career, rather than trying to figure it out the hard way, on your own, without a proven process for closing more sales.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Utilize mentorship and coaching to learn a proven process,, invest in it, learn it, and sharpen your saw. Then never turn back.

If you’re ready to start closing more sales with an exclusive mentorship program, I encourage you to apply to be a part of my exclusive Sales Insights Lab Accelerator today. Once you’ve completed the application, we’ll schedule a one-on-one call, and at the end of the call, there’ll be one of two outcomes: either it’s not a fit and we can part as friends, or it is a fit, and we’ll extend an invitation for you to join the Lab Accelerator.7 (Quick) Tricks to Sound Great on Sales Calls

Either way, you’ll get an insanely valuable strategy session, and walk away with newfound clarity on how to get to that next step in your sales career. Our schedule is very limited, so if this sounds like something you’re interested in exploring, then go ahead and apply to the Lab Accelerator by clicking the link below right now:Apply to the Lab Accelerator

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About the Author Marc Wayshak

Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.

Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.

Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.

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