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‘Opening’ is the New Closing

What’s the most important part of a sale?

According to a global leader in sales training, Huthwaite International, most salespersons answered with “the close”. Its logical then to see why companies spend time training their salesforce on ‘how to close’. However, Huthwaite’s research found that when companies spent time training their employees in closing sales, their closing rate actually decreased.

What happened?

We will explore that in just a minute. Lets look at it from another perspective. Instead of focusing on closing a sale, what if the focus was on opening a sale? What does that even mean? How do you open a sale?

Success in sales is all about building relationships. In order to develop and foster relationships, one must open doorways to connect with the client or customer. Engaging the client and helping the customer to open up can create a multitude of opportunities for sales to take place.

When the focus is placed on ‘opening’ there is less pressure on getting the sale, and the focus becomes the needs of the client. Lets look at an example.

The Closer

Client: I can see where your printers will help our team provide faster service to our customers.

Salesman: Thats great, how many printers will you need to get the job done more effectively?

Client: Four

Salesman: When would you like them shipped?

Client: Hang on a second, I am not sure that I can afford all four right now.

Salesman: Ok. How many can you afford?

Client: I think we will start with just one, and we can see how things go.

Salesman: Great, we will have one installed within the week, and I will follow up next week.

Recap: In this scenario, the salesman’s focus was on getting the client to commit to a sale (closing). Lets look at this same scenario, but lets shift the focus to the relationship (opening).

The Opener

Client: I can see where your printers will help our team provide faster service to our customers.

Salesman: What would it mean to the company for your team to provide faster service?

Client: Well, we would definitely have more satisfied customers, and my employees would be able to get more done in the same amount of time.

Salesman: You mentioned customer satisfaction, how important is that to you?

Client: Honestly, its my main focus. I want everyone that walks through the door to have a great experience with the company. I see it as a personal responsibility.

Salesman: Wow, I can hear your commitment and dedication to each and every customer. What else would upgrading your printers do for you?

Client: Actually, it would help to decrease some of the headaches we are having, and my employees would be much happier.

Salesman: Sounds like you’re committed to employee satisfaction as well.

Client: Yes, its right up there with customer satisfaction. You can’t have one without the other.

Salesman: If upgrading your printers will improve employee and customer satisfaction, what’s holding you back?

Client: I’m not really sure. I know its a lot of money, but it seems necessary for my business.

Salesman: What if you don’t upgrade your printers?

Client: I suppose we would continue to have the same headaches…looks like I can’t afford to not upgrade my printers.

Salesman: What else do you need from me in order to move forward?

Client: How fast can you get four printers installed?

Salesman: We can have all four installed by the end of the week and I will check back in next week to see how things are going.

​Which scenario will likely yield more results?

When the focus shifts from what the salesperson needs, to what the client needs (the relationship), the opportunity to sell begins to open.

Sales starts with perspective. It starts before you ever walk in the [open] door. How are you viewing your sale? Is the focus on short-term financial gain, hitting a quota, meeting a goal? These are all examples of focusing on the close.

When you flip the perspective and only focus on connecting with the client, you begin to see things differently. In fact, the tension in the room escapes like a bandit in the night and the conversation begins to flow more naturally. By putting the clients needs before your own, you find opportunity presents itself behind every open door.

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