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Lost Art Of Closing and the Secrets of Gaining Sales Commitments: A Non-Linear Approach

Discover how mastering the art of securing multiple commitments can transform your sales strategy and boost your win rates.

Mastering Sales Commitments: A Non-linear Approach

Closing is perhaps the easiest commitment to acquire. But for this to be true, you need to gain a number of commitments.

In 2016, after publishing The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need, I had already started writing The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales on my flight from a meeting with the publisher in New York.

The biggest influence on me at the time was Neil Rackham. Like a lot of people, I found SPIN Selling, which I think still holds a sales record for McGraw Hill. After 36 years, the book is still published in hardcover. SPIN’s simplicity made it easy to understand and execute, but the straightforward framework wasn’t the greatest takeaway for me. Instead, it was the three pages before the introduction that made the biggest impact on my thinking and approach.

On these few pages, Rackham explained that there are only two possible outcomes from a meeting. The first outcome Rackham called an “advance,” meaning the client agreed to take the next step. The second outcome Rackham called a “continuation,” suggesting there was no commitment to a next step.

At the time of this writing, no fewer than five companies with revenue in the billions have shared with me that, because of their size and reputation, they are always invited to a first meeting. Then, they confess that many of their reps are unable to secure a second meeting, indicating a continuation. You will find a great number of sales organizations that fail to create enough value in the first meeting to advance.

Sales Experience with a Commodity: Insights and Strategies

After reading SPIN Selling and taking to heart the need to acquire an advance, I sat at my client’s desk and started to open my Franklin Covey Planner to a two-page calendar. After the sales conversation, I would say, “I am free at this time next week if you are.” This worked well enough, but stringing together a series of meetings was often more difficult.

SPIN does not include a list of the specific advances salespeople are working toward, so I started to identify the different conversations. At this time, many of my clients were interested in controlling their buying process, including for RFPs and stand-up presentations. One outcome was that some contacts didn’t want to have certain conversations.

I was a non-believer when it came to the linear sales process. I had too many clients who would change the subject to some conversation they needed to continue the conversation. It was easier to address what the client needed and pivot back to the earlier conversation.

Key Phrases to Expect in Sales Conversations

Here are a number of things you hear in a sales conversation:

  • How much is this going to cost?
  • I will be the person making the decision.
  • This solution isn’t going to work for us.
  • I will meet with my team in the next two weeks and I’ll get back to you.
  • We are not certain this is right for us now.

The Lost Art of Closing is a non-linear approach to the sales conversation. Here are some ideas about the list above:

  • If your client decides they need information about the investment, instead of saying, “We can’t tell you what the price is until we go through discovery,” say this instead: “Based on what we know now, it is between $200,000 and $400,000. We can get a better estimate as we learn more.”
  • When someone says they will be the only person you need to talk to, respond by saying, “I am afraid if your team isn’t included in this conversation they may not support your initiative. Because they have no skin in the game, they may not support you. We will not have any conversation without you being present.”
  • When you hear something like, “This solution isn’t going to work for us,” you will need to ask your contacts to make the changes that allow them to succeed with your product or service.
  • When you hear the main decision-maker explain they are going to meet with their team in the next couple of weeks, you can expect to have somewhere between four to seven birthdays while you wait. You should always ask for the last 15 minutes of the client’s meeting with their team. The rationale is that if they have unresolved concerns, you are the best person to address them.
  • When your sales champion says they are not certain, it means they are uncertain that they can execute or succeed.

I believe sales is a conversation. In The Lost Art of Closing, you will find the language and talk tracks to deal with all 10 of the common conversations you experience as you are selling. Here is a list of the 10 commitments:

  1. Time
  2. Explore
  3. Change
  4. Collaborate
  5. Consensus
  6. Investment
  7. Review
  8. Resolve Concerns
  9. Decide
  10. Execute

The only feedback we get from salespeople on The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales is that they make more money after adopting the framework.

Why a Non-Linear Sales Process Is Essential

You need a concept of a sales process that is non-linear, as well as one that allows you to lead your clients and prevent them from failing to have important conversations that they must commit to, ensuring they can make a rare, strategic decision they must get right on their first attempt.

The 10 commitments here tend to work for sales organizations, but use them as a starting point. If you need to add a demo or some other conversation that will ensure you take care of the client and create a preference to buy from you, add that commitment to your list.




Post by Anthony Iannarino on July 3, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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