Retaining Authority in Late-Stage Sales (CogMar Process H)

You are on the fourth stage of your sales journey, and your sales team is working hard to close the sale. Your customer has passed through the unaware stage. They now know they have a problem and that you have a possible solution. Next, they encountered the contemplating stage where your marketing sent them data while they considered their various options. Finally, they shared information with you in the planning stage, and you presented solid evidence that you have helped other businesses in similar situations.

Now, in the action stage, they've made a public commitment to your deal. You've used your former clients to help your relationship with your current client along, and you've received your clients' countering proposals on the project and have started the final stages of closing the deal. You're close to the finish line, but there are still a few touches to go, and you want them to happen under your control. This guide will discuss environmental control and why it's necessary to close your sale.

What a doctor can teach a sales team

House calls were relatively common at the turn of the century, but few doctors will visit your home today for medical care. Why did doctors stop this type of service? It has to do with environmental control. When doctors made house calls, studies showed that patients felt freer to ignore the doctor's advice. In the comfort of their own home, patients felt more in control and felt like more of an expert and didn't feel like they needed the doctor's opinion as much. One of the reasons that doctors' offices are so similar is to give the doctor some gravitas so that you are more likely to heed their medical advice. Your sales team needs to heed this and control the environment that they will close a sale with a client.

Ensure you're still listening

As the action stage becomes the solid and serving stage where the deal closes, there's a tendency to offer more and listen less. This is not the time for that. You need to be still open to your customer's ideas and still be listening to their stories. If they feel that you are not giving them the power in the relationship, they may change their minds at the last minute. You want to avoid that. Don't let the proximity of the end rush you. Keep doing exactly what you've been doing. Give your customer the power by actively listening to their problem and fashioning your pitch around what they say.

Think of yourself as a guide

As you ease your customer from stage four to stage five, you guide them along the path. They still have the power, but you're remaining in control by steering them toward a mutually beneficial relationship. Can the path get rocky? Absolutely, but that's why you are there to smooth that path and make the transition to a closed sale as smoothly as possible. Just as a guide prepares before a journey, your sales team needs to be prepared with data and alternate paths you can take if the client doesn't like the one you're on.

Ensure you are well-positioned in the marketplace

This may seem obvious, but it is essential for this stage. You want to stick to certain procedures so that behavioral science is on your side, but your client may try to disrupt your procedures. If you are well-placed in the marketplace, your client will likely acquiesce to your procedures as long as you give them a useful substitution that lets them feel like they still have the power. If you are not well-placed in the marketplace, you may have to show weakness by following your client's procedures, and you'd rather avoid that. By positioning your organization in a place of power, you will be able to follow your own procedures and make the transition from stage four to five easier.

Use the business lunch or golf game to your advantage.

One of the mistakes businesses make is they go for the golf game or business lunch too early in the behavioral stages. Of course, a client will accept a free lunch from you early on, but it doesn't do anything to advance your position at that point. Now, however, you'd like to get your client into a neutral territory to finish the deal. If you try to do the deal in their office, just like the doctor we talked about earlier, your clients are less likely to listen to your suggestions. By maneuvering your client into a neutral space, you create a greater chance of your recommendations being met with approval.

Position yourself as an authority

Now is the time to position yourself as an authority in your field on your turf. Create a seminar where you talk about your process. Invite your prospective client along with clients you've helped in the past. Create your own environment where you are powerful and in control and your customer is out of their environment. Another way to do this is to give the customer a tour of your plant and show them your process. Again, you are inviting your customer into your environment to close the deal giving you more of an air of authority over the situation.

Control your space

If you have to close in their environment, do something to make that space your own. Surround the space with charts of your data backing up your claims. Put whiteboards around the space and find an activity where the client will interact with it. The important thing is to make the space feel like yours as much as possible so that you can retain a sense of authority.

Conclusion

As you enter the final stage, you tend to think the sale is closed, and it isn't. You still need to show that you understand your customer's concerns, are an authority on what your client is concerned about, and can deliver an actionable plan with those concerns covered. The closer you get to the end, the more you begin to think about money. When you think about money, there is a tendency to try to push your ideas forward. Now is not the time for that. Control your environment and show that you are the authority in the field, and you can help them with their pain points.

 

 

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