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Watch Your Step and Close that Sale

By Mark Munday

I often hear people complain that they are able to attract prospects, but they struggle to close the sale. And, more often than not, it is because they are in too much of a hurry!

Business relationships are based on trust. People buy from people they know, like and trust. And trust is not something you can create. You have to earn it. Building trust is a prerequisite for closing the sale. And you ruin your chances if you try to close the sale prematurely.

Trying to make the sale before the prospect is ready to make a decision, is like shooting yourself in the foot. While your offering may be the best available, the prospect will reject it because of the perceived pressure.

This means that selling usually has to be a multi-step process. In most cases, it simply isn't possible to establish trust at the first contact with a prospect. So the selling process has to be spread across a number of different contacts.

According to the National Sales Executive Association in the US, 80% of sales are made during the 5th-12th contact. Here are statistics from their survey findings:

2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact

Each step in the sales process is a different contact with the prospect. Certainly, selling some product s is easier than selling others. And different numbers of contacts are required.

For example, when you buy a bottle of milk, you don't need more than one contact. As long as the product looks like it has come from a reputable source, and the price is reasonable, you will buy it straight off the shelf.

But if you are buying a state-of-the-art computer system that costs thousands of dollars, you will be a lot more circumspect. The sales representative will have to convince you that the system is appropriate for your requirements, that adequate support will be available and a whole lot of other things.

Clearly, the number of contacts required depends on the price of the product or service. The higher the price, the more contacts are required.

The opposite is true for tangibility of the product or service. The less tangible the product/service is, the more contacts are required. Intangible services like, for example, business consulting can only be sold after a lot of trust and confidence has been established. So many contacts are usually required.

So what does all this mean for the way you go about making a sale? Well, first you have to get a feel for how many contacts are required. Then, spread your sales process across these contacts in a way that leads the prospect to making a buying decision.

For example, the process for selling a business consulting service could look something like this :

1st Contact - Advertise Workshop to target market
2nd Contact - Take bookings from people who want to attend
3rd Contact - Do workshop and collect attendee business cards
4th Contact - Phone to arrange meetings with interested attendees
5th Contact - Meet with prospect, assess requirements
6th Contact - Deliver proposal to prospect
7th Contact - Follow up and ask for sale

We are up to 7 contacts already. And, depending on the circumstances, closing of the sale could take a few more.

The important thing to note here is that there is a logical flow in the sequence of contacts. And no attempt to close the sale is made in the early stages of the process.

The secret is to use a stepped process to gradually build perceived value and trust. You have to lead your prospects to the point where they are totally comfortable with the process. And they are convinced that buying from you is in their best interests.

As a Business Strategist and Coach, Mark works with business owners to help them achieve their business goals. His powerful strategic planning and implementation techniques produce stunning results for clients. Go to for details.

Mark recently released a unique and revolutionary system for building your business into what you really want it to become.

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