Are You Selling “Things” or “Solutions”?
Perhaps this is just a sign of the times, but I’m seeing more managers who attribute a shortfall in their sales numbers to a shortage of sales people who know how to ask for an order. In other words, they feel they don’t have enough “closers.”
Unfortunately, these managers are mistakenly identifying their real problem. What many managers see as a need for more “closers” is really a symptom of a broken sales process. Closers are a band-aid. They are the antithesis of selling value.
When managers feel that they have a shortage of closers what they really have is a shortage of salespeople who have the knowledge and expertise to help their prospects make value-based purchase decisions.
I love this statement from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, because it concisely summarizes what selling truly is about. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, he said “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”
If you think that your primary sales challenge is that you need more “closers” then chances are that you’re just selling “things” instead of “solutions” to problems. You’re focusing on your product instead of a process that quickly provides the value that will enable the customer to make a purchase decision. As a result, the message that you’re unintentionally communicating to your customers is that you’re selling a commodity product or service instead of a solution.
Rather than hire more closers, you should focus on developing salespeople who possess a deeper understanding of the requirements of your target customers and a greater knowledge of the value provided by the products and services you are selling.
The Kind Of Closers You Really Need
When your customer appears to be having difficulty deciding, the primary thing that needs to be closed is the gap between their knowledge and understanding of their requirements and their knowledge and understanding of the value your solution will provide to meet them. If you look at this from the perspective of your buyers, then a closer should be the salesperson who possesses the knowledge, expertise and insights to close this value gap.
If you can close this gap and help your customer to better understand their requirements and the value of the solution you sell, and have demonstrated that yours is the best solution for them, then asking for the order is pretty simple. In fact, if you’ve done your job well, the asking will be a mere formality. No closer required.
In most sales situations the customer will already have made up their mind on a supplier by the time you ask for their order. Buyers whittle down the pool of prospective sellers as they go through their buying process. They may start out by evaluating five different suppliers for a particular service. But they start eliminating vendors as go through their process based on the value delivered, or lack thereof. (Buyers have little incentive to inform sellers that they no longer are in the running because they stand to benefit by encouraging the competition for their business to continue.)
If you feel that you need to rely on the mythical “closer” to win more orders then you’re admitting that your sales team falls short of helping their prospects understand the value of your product or service. Your prospects can’t make informed decisions to buy your solution because of this gap in their understanding. Instead of relying on a so-called “closer” to negotiate away your margins and diminish the value of your solution, hire and train salespeople who have the skills, knowledge, expertise and insights to help their customers make fast, favorable purchase decisions.