Seal the Deal

Sales advice from Gulfshore Business Associate Publisher Rob Wardlaw

Each year, Gulfshore Business selects 40 young professionals to receive the 40-under-40 Award. These accomplished young men and women have had inspirational stories over the years—and I find that each has his or her own wisdom to convey, particularly noteworthy given their young age.

One of our recent 40-under-40 honorees had what I consider to be some very useful advice. During his interview for the magazine, his words were these: “No deal is done until it is done!”

This lesson is so simple and seemingly obvious—but it is amazingly overlooked by even experienced professionals. Over the years, I’ve had numerous deals fail, many of which I thought were 100 percent sold before they fell apart. While the success or failure of any deal may depend on factors that are out of one’s direct control, I would like to focus here on the things we can influence.

1. Never take anyone’s business for granted. A sign of interest merely indicates that you’ve captured someone’s attention. People take interest in things all the time—but that does not mean they are willing to spend their hard-earned money.

2. Always seek to understand your potential customer’s reason for wanting to buy and especially wanting to buy from you and your company. When you probe deeper into his or her thought process, you will likely learn a great deal about what motivated the inquiry. That background knowledge quite possibly can help you close the sale.

3. Once you see that your prospect’s level of interest is rising, do everything possible to keep his or her attention, as this is the most critical period in the process. Supply all relevant information in a timely, transparent way and be sure to have further details ready, if necessary.

4. Have a process for follow-up that suits your industry’s norms.

Following-up too soon is often equally as bad as waiting too long to touch base. And of course, neglecting to follow-up for any reason is entirely unacceptable.

Ultimately, your client’s decision to buy or not to buy should have nothing whatsoever to do with the salesperson facilitating the transaction. A successful salesperson may want to take credit for the sale. But in truth and reality, the salesperson is just doing his or her job. If you sell correctly, your success will be obvious. You’ll be the one on your team with the most repeat business, the most referrals and the most new business.

Rob Wardlaw, robw@gulfshorebusiness.com, is the associate publisher of Gulfshore Business magazine.