Closing the sale may take longer than you think
Selling is the only action that actually achieves the income, and unless the salesperson completes the sale, all other activities such as brand development or social media promotion are wasted effort.
The prime purpose of every business is to make money for the benefit of the owners and the workforce, regardless of whether it is a business for manufacturing, retail or professional services. Businesses make money by producing goods and services which customers want to buy. Marketing managers have the responsibility of managing resources to produce profitable income from sales, by anticipating and satisfying customer requirements. Whatever a business makes or type of service it provides, money is only produced when the goods or services are actually sold to a customer. However good the product, service and brand image may be, it is only from the act of selling that income is derived for the business in question, thus the ability to “sell” is crucial to the success of every commercial business.
Considering that successful selling is fundamental to the producing of profitable income, it is important for marketing managers of such businesses, to understand which activities are involved in generating customer interest and its conversion to income producing sales, in order that the process is effectively managed.
The process of making a sale may be broken down into four principle actions
- Engaging the attention of the potential customer – By demonstrating a recognition of a customer’s problem.
- Establishing the customer’s interest. - Outlining a solution to the problem.
- Developing the customer’s desire for the product or service – Demonstrating how the product or service can solve the problem and benefit the customer.
- Guiding the customer to easily complete the purchase. Show how the customer can access the product and its benefit.
These actions form the basis of every professional sales person’s approach to making and completing a sale with a customer.
For the sales person involved with direct selling to the customer, whether an individual consumer or a commercial buyer, the ability to successfully close the sale is all important. Experience shows that there are a number of principles which collectively help to achieve a successful sales closure which are as follows:
- Depending on the product or service being offered, a sale may come after a single meeting or it may come after a series of meetings and negotiations. “Closing” should be treated as a process as in many cases, it means moving the sales process to the next step, which requires patience.
- Before meeting with a customer, understand all the steps and processes that are necessary in order to complete the sale and set specific objectives that can be achieved at each meeting in the process to closing the sale and writing the order .
- Ask questions that clarify the situation and confirm that what you’re selling matches what the customer needs. Examples: "How does that sound to you?" "What do you think about that?" "What timeframe would you need for delivery?"
- If the dialog has been productive and you’ve checked to be sure that the customer is ready to buy, then ask for the order. Do not let a fear of losing the sale prevent the making of the sale.
Being a professional salesperson may not be socially fashionable in the eyes of many. While market research, product development, Brand, image promotion and communication are all important, only the ability to successfully close a sale will produce the income on which the business survives
Having ticked all the actions to bring the client to the point of sales closure, the next step would normally be the completion of sale by the client providing a contract signature or the provision of cash. The customer may well be disposed to the product or service, and agreeable to the benefits to be gained and the terms and conditions which would normally make for an immediate completion of the sale. However, the covid pandemic does not make for normal times, and even for the largest companies, it has introduced a greater level of caution with buyers, who uncertain about trading and financial conditions, are inclined to delay the completion of purchases to the last possible minute, despite their requirements.
For the marketing manager, this means that when looking at the key sales opportunities on which the business income relies, it is necessary to understand that caution in the current covid pandemic will mean that sales completion will often take longer to complete than normally expected. In this situation, the marketing manager should:
- Concentrate on quick sales that bring in quick revenue.
- Exercise patience with delays for large income orders.
- Maintain close relations with customers whose caution delays sales, in order to understand their caution and make better assessment of expected completion.
- Offering revised sale conditions may overcome customer caution and complete the sale on time. However, when the objective is to maintain a sustained level of necessary cash-flow, the offering of additional discounts or delayed payment should be avoided,
In a time of covid lock-downs, cash-flow is king. Large and lucrative orders may have potential for greater revenue, but may also be subject to longer delay. By contrast, smaller orders may process and pay quicker and collectively produce necessary cash-flow sooner.