Closing transactions, for example by signing a contract, is just the icing on the cake. If the previous stages of the sales conversation were good, then finalization is a natural consequence. If you don’t finalize transactions, the problem often comes from one of the previous stages, so closing sales, despite being the shortest stage of the entire process, requires many different skills.

Years ago, I had a friend who was dating an artist. They went for walks, to the cinema, to events, but there was never anything else between them. My friend was afraid of asking an open question about their relationship and what he wanted, because she didn’t want to frighten him. However, she was becoming more and more emotionally involved. After about half a year of dating, she decided to confess her love for him. In response, he said: ‘But I have a girlfriend!’ Refusal, though painful, was good for her, because she could move on. The same happens in sales.

Customers have different motivations for meeting with suppliers. That’s their right. The problem arises when the salesperson enters into a vague relationship with the client, pretending that the meetings are not about sales. The natural consequence is the delaying of the transaction. The benefit of such a relationship is the hope that it will eventually result in a cooperating client.

Finalizing the transaction gives you clarity as to where you are. Every customer response is good. ‘Yes’ means you start to cooperate, and ‘no’ means you can focus your energy on other transactions. What you need to consider when finalizing transactions is your own need for clarity. Don’t play the game if you don’t understand its rules. Remember that the only person who knows the rules is the customer. Before finalizing your sales, check if you are clear:

  • How does the decision process take place?
  • Who makes decisions and to what extent?
  • What are the key non-price criteria for choosing a supplier?
  • What benefits does the client want to achieve by implementing a new supplier?
  • What information does each of the decision makers need to be able to make a decision in their own right?
  • What are the risks to the customer associated with changing suppliers?/Do the parties know how to account for such risks?
  • When does the client want to make a decision?
  • When does the client want to change suppliers?/What would have to happen for the customer to change suppliers?
  • How does the process of implementing a new supplier look for the client?

Build a brand of decision makers

In B2B sales, decisions are made by people who have their preferences and at the same time work within a company that sets specific expectations for them. For the client, decision makers bear twice the risk - that is, the risk of whether the chosen solution will work and provide the expected business results, and the risk to their career and personal brand. They worry about their own fate in the organization, about bonuses, raises or promotions.

Build motivation to change

Choosing and implementing a new supplier means putting in extra effort, with only the promise of results. Policy makers are aware that new solutions are additional work for their employees. Some customers are reluctant to put in effort to change suppliers, and treat negotiation meetings as an overview of the options available on the market. Of course, such meetings make sense. Remember, however, that as long as you do not motivate the client to change and implement a new solution, you’ll have nothing to finalize. The whole conversation must be focused on building awareness of needs, helping to choose options, naming and securing risks, moving the decision-making process one step ahead, all in a conversation conducted in a spirit of cooperation.

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