I wrote an article on why closing usually isn’t the real problem for salespeople – even for those who fail to hit their numbers. It generated lots of discussion with more than 5,000 reads and I discussed the misplaced emphasis on closing with Anthony Iannarino, creator of The Sales Blog and author of the book, The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need In Sales. The book was just recently published and has already rocketed to become a bestseller.
Anthony is one of the most respected sales leaders globally and here are his thoughts on the topic of closing. We’re aligned on this and he brings a brilliant perspective.
“What if I told you that closing wasn’t your problem? What if I told you that it wasn’t the final ask at the end of your sales process that causes your failure to win the net new clients and the new revenue you need? What if it was something else? For most salespeople and sales organizations, their problem with new client acquisition and net new revenue has nothing to do with asking the prospective client to buy. But it does have everything to do with securing commitment. It’s not the final commitment that we struggle to gain; it’s the first commitment, the commitment for time.”
Anthony is right on the money here. Closing should always be the next natural commitment in a progression of trust-building steps between buyer and seller. Here is Anthony’s advice of creating commitment right from the beginning.
The First Commitment:
“Acquiring the commitment to spend time with you is one of the most difficult commitments you have to gain from your dream clients. First, they are time-starved and protective of their calendars. Second, you are paying for the sins of all the salespeople who have called on your dream client before you and wasted their time. You are automatically suspect. Finally, your dream client rejects your request for an appointment because they aren’t interested in changing. Meeting with you means they will have to have a conversation about change and that may remind them of decisions they don’t want to make.”
“You never have to worry about closing an opportunity that you haven’t already opened. It’s the opening where opportunity is created.” Anthony Iannarino
Opening is the new closing:
“That means you need to an opener. You want to be a rainmaker, the person who actually creates new opportunities that generate net new clients and net new revenue. This means nurturing your dream clients and prospecting.”
“Like it or not, this is where the action is in sales today. Ideas like The Challenger Sale and insight-based selling are built on the idea of helping the prospective client answer the question, “Why change?”
“The person who initiates change is more valuable to their prospective clients than the person who waits passively for their prospects to decide that they need something and merely responds to their request.”
“If you want to be a trusted advisor and consultative salesperson you are going to have to focus on opportunity creation at levels greater than your focus on opportunity capture. The truth of the matter is, the person who creates new opportunities has a much greater likelihood of winning that opportunity than the person who reacts to their client’s already established needs. You know this to be true.”
“It’s very easy to ask for the business when you’ve done a great job defining the problem, building a vision of the better future your dream client needs, and collaborating with them to build a solution that gets them there. Closing is easy. Opening is what’s difficult now.”
What does Anthony Predict For The Future Of Selling?
“I am not one for making predictions on what will change in sales from year to year. Not much changes that quickly. But I will commit to the idea that over the next couple of years, the salespeople who perform the best, and the sales organizations that win more net new business, will all have one thing in common: They will be laser-focused on opportunity creation, and they have a sales force of hunters with the will and skills to create those opportunities.”