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Building Your Impressions: Closing the Sale Faster

Tips for effectively speeding up the process

A business travels through the marketplace at the rate of its sales. And nothing much happens until a sale is made. If you want your business to grow faster, you have to speed up your sales. If you have salespeople in your organization, or if you are in sales, you have a direct effect on that speed.

When it comes to signs, graphics, and visual display, a number of factors often make it difficult to close deals and convert concepts into projects in a timely manner. Some of those factors are beyond the control of the salesperson, like design, estimates, and permits if required. I look at those factors as necessary hurdles that with practice and skill your company can figure out how to get over them faster and faster.

At the individual level, where sales meets pavement and salespeople meet customers, there are even more factors and hurdles. In my 25-plus years in business and sales, I discovered how to get over these hurdles and close more sales while speeding up the time involved with closing them by applying the right attributes, efforts, tools and skills. Allow me to share them in no particular order.

Response Time — People like being responded to. Fast. Calls on the same day. Emails by the next day. Texts within the hour. If you have an [email protected] or [email protected] email address, be sure you monitor and reply when requests are made.

Communication — Do it, a lot. With details. But not too many. There’s a happy balance in what to say and how often. Be sure to include all the participants or stakeholders. If something is being communicated, ask yourself who else would benefit by knowing this. Often it is the customer who’s left out, or one of your peers in another department. Mondays and Fridays are times to “check in” and communicate with all your project contacts. 

Calendar — It amazes me how many people don’t use these consistently to stay organized in today’s busy world. The calendar keeps you on task. If you’re not using these daily, multiple times a day, you’re not organized. And your sales will suffer.

Take Notes — I take lots of notes. I keep a note pad by my phone to document calls and conversations. I take notes between all my to dos and activities. Notes help to not forget important details. 

Design — Design sells. If a customer wants a bland graphic in a basic box, do one unique thing to that graphic or box that gives it the pop it needs to stand out over the competition’s design.

Details — Show dimensions, perspective, and explain materials. Know what’s behind the wall, overhead or on the ground. In other words, know and provide answers before questions come up.

Next Step — Think in terms of a next step. What next step can you take NOW to move a sale closer to a close? What next step can you present to the client to take that moves them closer to a decision? Do this for every project you are working on, daily. 

Don’t Ask for the Close — I never ask. I just keep giving and taking those next steps in order to move a proposed project toward a close. Get buy in along the way with each step, then just close without asking. 

No Big Decisions — Don’t make the customer make big decisions. Once you meet for the first time and you gather facts, don’t go away for weeks and come back with art and a proposal to sign. That’s too big of a decision to make and can cause the customer to pause, and maybe go shopping.

Inclusion — Make the customer part of the process. They want to be included in plans and conversations. They want to feel part of the team. They want to be involved in their project. They want to give input. So, ask for it. Give them a chance. 

Be Flexible — Meet and talk on the customer’s terms. Meet twice or more if needed. Let them be the boss and you be accommodating. Being flexible should extend from you to the company, with limits. 

Options — Find out what you think they want then present a variety of solutions in a range of pricing. Suggest things they might not have thought of. 

Be Proactive — Being proactive does not mean others will be. You make others proactive by pushing them to do what you want or need them to do when you want or need them to do it.

Creative Persistence — Many salespeople are persistent. But not many go to the extreme to be creative about it. Creativity takes work, but it makes you stand out and people usually pay attention to tactics they can respect or admire.

The Proposal — I hardly ever present a proposal until it becomes a formality at the end of the process. By then all the customers needs is the document to sign and they mostly understand all the details already. If you give it first, or up front, or when you present your first round of art, expect the process to slow down from that point. 

Don’t Sell — People smell “the sale” from a mile away. So even though the role and title apply, act more like a professional consultant helping the customer get what they want rather than selling to them. Bring them solutions, not sales. 

Multiple Touches — Use all the senses if you have to. Or at least mix things up. There are many ways to stay in touch and touch base with a customer today. If you reach out five different ways instead of sending five emails, you’ll have a better chance at getting the customer who went silent to say something. 

Drop Ins — I hate drop ins. But they are effective. I hate dropping in on others. But I do it. I just make sure when I do that I’m on their terms and don’t expect anything in return. I make these visits short and to the point. When in an area, use that opportunity to strategically drop in and in order to cultivate the personal relationship.

Push For What You Need — Don’t settle for people being too busy to get you what you need faster than they would on their own. 

Rules of Two — Two weeks feels like two months. If something can be done in two days, don’t take two weeks. If it takes two weeks, be done in two weeks, not two months. Production might take two months, but the time it takes to do things in those two months fall into two categories mostly; two days or two weeks.

Become an Expert — This takes effort beyond the job of selling. You need to read, go to seminars, be in the shop, be around peers in the industry, hang out with vendors, and put in the time it takes to learn the business inside and out. Get the hands dirty. Dig a hole. Drill holes 20′ up in the air in a cement wall. All this experience contributes to your expertise.

Work Smart, Hard, and as Long as Necessary — Hard work goes a long way. Doing that hard work with smarts makes things go father. Sometime working long hours actually speeds up the sales process.

Where’s the Ball — Is it in your hands? In the court of the customer? In the art department? In a sales order folder floating around someplace? In limbo? Know where it is and do your part to move it where it needs to be in order to keep things flowing.

Relationships — I get a lot done by cultivating and maintaining relationships. By doing so, I can problem solve fast by picking up the phone. 

Networking — Join a club and get involved. Boards, committees, organizations, networking events – take an active role in them. These are places where decision makers are. You want to be around them. The more people you’re connected to, the more sales and projects you’ll get.

Stay Cool — Cool, calm and confident. People like working with people like that. And when people are happy, things usually go better and faster.

Conclusion

Some of this might just seem like common sense. Yet, I’ve seen firsthand how a lot of this goes unpracticed. Putting these little rules to action takes an effort at both the corporate and individual salesperson levels. When they are, however, it’s been my experience that sales projects increase along with the speed of closing them. Hopefully some of these ideas will help the speed of our sales and help you sell more effectively and quickly.

Franko S

Scott Franko

Scott Franko is a solutions provider for business, brand and image through his firm, Franko Design Concepts and Consulting. He formerly owned and operated a multi-division sign, graphics and custom fabrication business. You can locate and contact him online at www.FrankoDesign.com. 

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