The Question To Close Deals
How can I be of help?
Such a simple sentence. But this -and its many variations- is one that has a very big impact when you are doing sales.
There was a time, not long ago, when I was struggling with sales. I had a technical background, being a telco engineer, but ended up handling sales as I took the leap into entrepreneurship. This was out of necessity more than because of my expertise in sales. In fact, when I started out in sales, I practically did every wrong thing a salesperson can possibly do.
When salespeople think of “closing a sale”, most think this is toward the end of the sales process. I used to think this way too. While I had some success with this sales process, I slowly realized that something is wrong. It’s like I am missing on something that can help me close more deals.
And so, I consciously began to take notes of how clients reacted when I was talking to them by trying a few opening lines.
One of which was a straightforward “ask”: Hi <Name>. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. We are <Company Name> and we’re doing <Product Brief>. Is this something that your organization might consider to try?
The problem with this, I soon realized, was that (1) it focuses on what our product is and (2) did not try to elicit any information about the challenges that the client is having. How many times have you received unsolicited emails from companies offering their products and services following this kind of sales template? More often than not, you probably just skimmed through it or you might have quickly marked it as spam. And even if you got the chance to talk in person to a potential client, they are more likely to easily say no when you use these kinds of “asks”.
After some trial and error, what I found most effective is to always put the client’s best interest first. This is why I always ask clients how can I be of help after listening to them talk about their problems and challenges.
This kind of “ask” accomplishes 2 things for me: (1) I get immediate feedback on how I and the products and services I offer can help with the clients’ challenges and problems and (2) it sets me up to have some great talking points when I follow up with them.
Even if a client is not inclined to get our products and services at the moment, asking them how can I be of help opens up a lot of avenues to better position our products and services for their future consideration.
My standard template for this kind of “ask” is: “Hi <Name>. I heard you have a (problem with/project that/program to) <brief descripion of the clients’ goals and challenges that you have researched beforehand>. How can I be of help?
The point here is to let them say more about their challenges and what it is exactly that they need to solve it, whether it is an end-to-end software development or an out-of-the-box solution, before you start talking about your products and services and what differentiates you from the competition.
When you get your client to talk more about what they need, you get to better understand their needs and can better position your products and services to showcase how you can help your client.
Obviously, you need to do some research first to get an idea of the macro level situation that your client is in. This usually involves finding out who the key stakeholders are, who the decision makers are, if there is already a budget or if it is still going through budget review, etc.
Do you have a go-to opening line when talking to potential clients? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s exchange ideas.