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You are stuck. Despite many presentations to clients in your target audience, no one seems to be biting. Your closing ratio is very low, which means that very few leads turn into new project wins. This can be the most frustrating part of sales and business development, but it also can be the most fixable after some analysis.



if you listen to the signals and make a few adjustments, sales techniques will become more efficient and convert into more project wins. Here are the six keys to lead conversion that can apply to any business, large or small.

1. Know your Product

It’s shocking how many people make the presentation and don’t know their product. In the construction industry, your product is your portfolio of work experience and your company’s strongest client services. While a great product or portfolio catches attention, don’t become lazy and hope the product sells itself. No contractor can get away with that in a tough economy.

To get this right, analyze your company’s strong suits. The best way to accomplish this is to be a fierce devil’s advocate. First, determine every reason possible why someone would not want to work with your company. What would your competition say when they make a counter presentation to your potential client?

Once the list is complete, determine the counter argument to each reason. Answer your prospect’s objections, or work them into the presentation so the objections don’t even come up. To really know a company’s products and services, learn to defend it against an onslaught of competitors.

If you get a tough question that you can’t handle, it is almost always better not to “wing it.” Get the right answer. This gives the company credibility in the marketplace and improves the closing ratio down the road.

2. Learn how the Customer/Prospect makes decisions

Every customer or customer organization has a process for making a decision, whether it’s up to one person or several. Sometimes a decision is made not just based on the value of the bid offered but because of the internal relationships within the organization.

Politics may apply. If a client “gave in” on another bid, he may be resistant, and this may have absolutely nothing to do with what you are offering. In addition, different people may have different levels of authority depending on the size of the transaction. If the client is part of a larger organization, it may be that the decision is not even made locally.

In any business, multiple people can impact a decision, and the contractor must have a relationship with everyone from top to bottom. A general rule of thumb is that every person at the prospect’s home or business is important, from the secretaries to the president, as well as spouses and other family members.

By understanding how clients make decisions and covering all the bases with everyone who might be relevant, your closing ratio will go up and stay up.

3. Play to your Comparative Advantage

As a salesperson or business development professional, you have to be able to relate to whoever you are talking with. This means that there will be situations in which each of us has an advantage over others because we immediately match a prospect’s personality style. People buy from people they like and justify the decision later.

Try to find the common ground, especially outside of work, with whomever you are talking to. When you meet a prospect for the first time, there are usually pictures in his or her home or office—sports, family, art and past events. Be observant and patient; you will see clues to something where you might have common ground with that person. When you find it, you will know it, and you have to play to it.

Capitalize on this opportunity, and you can increase your odds of closing the sale.

4. Service Drives Sales

Ever buy a car from a new or used car dealer? A few months after you drive the car off the lot, what is the first thing that comes up? Service. It might be something that needs to be fixed or it might be just general upkeep. Either way, you need to interact with the person or organization from whom you made the purchase. Your ongoing opinion of that organization will now be shaped by the service provided rather than the effectiveness of the sale.

Often, a person will keep going back to the same business again and again because they know that business will do whatever it takes to get it right and to show the proper respect for one’s budget.

The bottom line? Have the client imagine a smooth implementation of a project. Have him imagine what would happen if a problem occurs. Service is a component of the decision-making process and must be taken into account. Help the client visualize the scenario of service throughout the long-term relationship, not just at the point of the transaction. Service drives sales and drives up closing ratios.

5. Get Market Intelligence on What Did Not Work

One of the keys to improving a company’s closing ratio is market intelligence not only on what worked, but what did not work. Things happen for a reason, and people make decisions for a reason. Pay attention to what did not work for your company, as well as what did not work for a competitor. You can never have too much information.

Ensure your company has built enough trust and rapport to talk with clients after a project wraps up.  Asking clients why they didn’t purchase from the competition can be very eye-opening.

Focus on the parameters and criteria the client has laid out for its projects, and learn to recite these in every introductory discussion or cover sheet.

Deliver what the client needs and not what your company is trying to sell them. Ask prospective clients how they buy and how they bid. What is their top criteria?  If the client is truly interested, and he likes you, he will tell you. Once your prospective customer realizes that you are trying to give him what he wants, then you will close more sales.

6. Learn from and Be the Best

Whenever you are in a tough situation or are having trouble making the sale or closing, you have to create a composite. Look around at the best, the brightest and the most successful people in your profession, take all the best qualities of each, and put them together in one imaginary person.

Then when a tough situation comes up, step away and ask yourself, how would that person, with all the best qualities, handle that scenario. By using this out-of-body experience, you will gain some objectivity and learn to how practice and implement a solution.

So how do the best of the best improve closing ratios? They visualize the project win, watch for the signals, listen to prospective clients and implement the correct strategy.
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