Go to your local library or your favorite book store. You’ll find dozens and dozens of books with smart things to say about closing sales. You’ll find tips on closing methods – the trial close, the assumed close, the if-then close, the social validation close. There’s even something called the impending event close.
When selling to the government, most of the closing methods taught in the books simply don’t work. The books’ methods rely primarily on an instantaneous emotional response. While emotion can be an important part of a government sale (and often overlooked), instantaneous is not. It’s rare to find someone in government who can buy on the spot. Even those at the top have to follow a process. (See “Always Go to the Top?”)
To close government sales, you can’t wait until the end of your own sales process. You’ve got to start at the beginning. It begins with good prospecting, followed by priming to position yourself so that your prospect is poised to share with you their real pain. (Hmm, lots of p’s in that sentence.) There are other steps in the process. Two others worth particular mention are process and proposition. You must understand the buyer’s process, and you must have a strong value proposition to present. (Still more p’s.) Then, as you get close to your sales process, you’re going to need to call on another “p”. That’s patience. The process takes time, even after a decision has been made to buy from you.
Now, it’s not easy to tell your boss, “That government sale I’ve been projecting for months will come in soon. Just be patient.” Bosses don’t like to be told to be patient, even when it’s good advice. To make your discussions with your boss easier, make sure you understand your customer’s buying process top to bottom. In fact, understand the process better than your customer does (and certainly better than your boss does). This understanding will help prevent you from over-promising your boss. It will also help you step in when something has gone amuck with the process, as will happen…often.
Then, there’s another “p” that comes into play…a rather important one. That’s pipeline. The larger and more reliable your pipeline, the easier it is to tell your boss to be patient. I promise.
All the best,