Scott Channell has a great philosophy. He says that when it comes to success in sales, 60% of it is who you call, 30% is what you say, and 10% is everything else. The first question I'd ask myself is “Am I sure that the people I'm pursuing are the most likely to buy my energy solution in the near future?”
Why would the near future matter? Well, a sale is dependent on four things: a prospect’s desire, need, ability, and authority to pursue the offering being presented. At some point, everybody has a need for lighting, air conditioning, motors and drives or whatever you're selling. If you talk to every single person in the phone book you would wind up getting some business; however, your average sales cycle would be ridiculously long. Why? Because most of the people you're talking with do not have an immediate need or desire.
Here’s the second question: “Who are you talking to, exactly? Where did your leads come from?” Even if you’re talking to strangers they should be related to people you've already sold to, especially those who have been happy with your services. All you need to do is ask and the response might surprise you. You might hear something like, "You know, it's funny... I was just talking to John at the golf course on Saturday and he was complaining about how he has to overhaul his entire air conditioning system before the next cooling season. I bet if you called him, you'd be the kind of contractor he's looking for."
Here’s the third question: “If you have a lousy closing ratio, could it be related to the way you write your proposals?” Perhaps you haven't identified the perfect value proposition or soft-circled your prospect’s approval. You need to be pretty sure that people are going to say yes before taking the time to craft a compelling one-page proposal. It’s best if they've already agreed to take you on, so you can write the proposal and have your internal champion submit it to their capital budgeting department for final approval and funding. If your internal champion lacks the confidence to lobby for your project’s approval, you need to assess their needs more carefully and rewrite your proposal so that it’s a clear solution.
Another obstacle in your way is objections. Not everybody is willing to be your internal champion. There might be a killjoy on staff whose approval is necessary before you secure the sale. What do you do about that? Well, for one thing you’re going to have to answer a lot of questions, so prepare yourself. Come up with an Objections Archive™ or use one your organization has already compiled. You’ll find that there are probably less than 20 objections that everyone gets 80% of the time.
Another thing I'd recommend is doing some role-playing. If your closing ratio is suffering, it might be due to a lack of confidence or insufficient practice. My observation of thousands of salespeople leads me to believe that less than 10% of those salespeople can really think on their feet and be eloquent when they address objections. And that’s why rehearsals are so important. It takes time; however, if you’re determined to become a sales rock star, it’s definitely worth it.