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The deal is never airtight until the contract is signed

Have you ever experienced a time when you thought you had closed a deal with a new or existing client only to find it falling flat, or worse, being given to a business rival?  It is rumoured that around 62% of deals fail at the closing stage.

To be successful every small business owner needs to master the skill of closing the deal. How do you stack the odds in your favour to guarantee that much-coveted contract is placed firmly in the bag and stays there? The following are suggestions that might help you ensure your hard work doesn’t go unrewarded:

62% of deals fail at the closing stage

Preparation

Preparation is paramount: as soon as the deal is on the table you have to be able to act fast. In most instances you will have a narrow window of opportunity in which to close the deal and you won’t want to find yourself being squeezed into a corner. That is when you might end up making mistakes and agreeing to a negotiation that on reflection does not serve you well.  Consider the following questions to help think through your approach:

  • What is the lowest price you will go to? What does a good price look like? Know the deal you want to create.
  • Ask yourself, where are you prepared to compromise? Always leave room to manoeuvre.
  • What are the non-negotiables?
  • When do you walk away?

Consider any challenges, fears or uncertainties the client might have and prepare your best response. If you are asked a question you haven’t anticipated take a moment to think; don’t blurt out the first thing that comes into your head. Don’t be afraid of the silence; your client will respect you for giving a considered answer, not one that is a knee jerk reaction. All the time you need to ensure you put your best foot forward.

Networking

It is important to develop multiple contacts within the client organisation. Everyone involved in the decision-making process needs to be on your radar; you need to be seen as a valuable resource, a problem-solver.

There is a school of thought that maintains that clients will already have decided whose bid to accept well before the final-pitch stage. When all things are equal, people will buy from people they like: creating and nurturing those relationships is fundamental.

Also don’t forget about the people on the periphery. Just because they are not in the meeting negotiating the fees doesn’t mean they can’t affect the decision-making process and influence the outcome. Employees who have worked in the business for a number of years and are seen as trustworthy often come up with persuasive viewpoints. They can identify potential pitfalls that the key stakeholders in the business may not have considered.

 

Listen to your client

One of the most common reasons contracts are lost is because sellers fail to respond to clients’ questions. Rather than being hell-bent on getting your point across, give your potential clients what they want – answers.

The client isn’t necessarily an expert in your field so once you’ve established their level of knowledge, keep the conversation straightforward and to-the-point. If the client understands what you can do for them they are far more likely to hire you.

 

Sell yourself

Don’t make the mistake of failing to speak effectively about your offer: make sure you have a succinct elevator pitch. The client needs to know the benefits of working with you and how your service or product is going to help that client reach their goals.

 

Attitude

It is important that you go into your meeting confident that you have a ‘win win’ proposition. If one side benefits disproportionately it will damage the relationship. Both of you need to work together to forge an arrangement that moves your respective agendas forward. These are the building blocks of strong customer relationships.

 

Don’t let it get personal

Once you’re clear on the deal you’d like to broker and you know where you’ve got wiggle room, sit down with the other party and talk about the issues. As you negotiate, do not allow the client to dictate the terms: that’s a recipe for a win-lose outcome, with you on the losing end.

Whenever you take a position, be sure you can buttress it with appropriate rationales. Be specific about your facts and remain detached and objective to ensure that the negotiation process doesn’t become overheated.

 

Asking for the work

Asking for the business can be a daunting issue even for the best of sales people, who can find this difficult. However, there comes a point in every negotiation when you have to ask for the work.

I have known companies lose contracts simply because they didn’t ask for the business!

It’s important to spell it out without sounding desperate; don’t take it for granted that the client will realise that you want the work more than one of your competitors. You need to find the best way to deliver the ultimate question, for example, “is this something you would like to move forward on and would you be willing to sign a contract today?”

If you are not practised at asking for the work, try this on some of your fellow Moxie Club members.  See what their reaction is when you deliver that crucial question.

 

Last-minute demands

If last-minute demands crop up, hold fast!  Sometimes they are simply a test to ensure that the negotiated deal is the best possible agreement. The person with the money doesn’t hold all the power; remember this is about creating a business partnership.  In almost every case, the other party will be visibly relieved that you have refused to capitulate and will take the demands off the table.

 

Is it that simple?

Yes, it is.

Invariably, what the client has been testing, albeit inadvertently, has been your honesty, legitimacy, and integrity and you have proved that you have all of these qualities in abundance and that you have both witnessed the birth of a successful business relationship.

 

Carole Bozkurt – The Blueprint Practice
carole@blueprintpractice.com

Share this article if you found it useful! And leave a comment in the box below. We hope to connect with you soon.

About Carole Bozkurt

** On Saturday 20 June, The Blueprint Practice is running a Sales Master Class in London, click here to find out more about it. And if you enter the code Carole in the promotional box you will get a £30 discount as a member of Women Unlimited ** Hi there, I'm Carole Bozkurt, founder of The Blueprint Practice. I’m a Visibility Strategist and I help female business owners to stand out in a crowded market and get noticed by their ideal client. Once the right connections have been made I help my clients to turn those contacts into paying clients. If you are interested in growing your business, increasing your client base and claiming your expert status then please email me directly at carole@blueprintpractice.com. Alternatively, you can contact me via my website here.

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5 comments

  1. 100% agree with you and I like “The person with the money doesn’t hold all the power” quote. Its cool…!!!

    Thx

  2. Thanks Mike for your comment. Very much appreciate the time you have taken to read the article and comment. Carole

  3. Not being a lawyer, I was always led to believe that only real estate deals HAD to be in writing. If you come to a verbal agreement in the course of doing business, isn’t it legally binding, and wouldn’t it stand up if (God forbid) you had to go to court?

    • Yikes. I can say that this is not the case in the US. There may be some circumstances were a verbal contract would be honored in court, but I wouldn’t bet my business on it. Get it in writing. Signed, sealed and delivered!

    • Hi Sonny, thanks for your comment you make a really good point. I am not a solicitor but my understanding is that in the UK a verbal contract maybe valid (but not in relation to land as noted in your comment) provided it contains three elements (1) offer (2) acceptance (3) consideration. However, the difficulty comes if a dispute arises and unless a verbal contract has been witnessed it can be difficult to prove. The advantage of having a written agreement, if well drafted, is that it reflects the terms and conditions of the deal so that in the unfortunate event of an issue arising there is a record of agreement. It can be the case that people may not accurately remember what has been agreed and therefore a written agreement, as opposed to a verbal one, is a far more efficient way of conducting business relationships and providing certainty for both parties.

      Many thanks for reading the article. Carole

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