Why You’re Closing the Wrong Person at the Wrong Time

Learn how to find the real decision makers and go in for the close at just the right time.

September 19, 2016

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Every seasoned sales professional has felt the sting of a lost sale. Perhaps a prospect chooses a competitor, or you suddenly receive nothing but radio silence.

It bites. A lost sale is wasted time, lost revenue, and maybe even a missed bonus. But us salespeople have developed thick skins for rejection; when we fail to close, the first thing we must ask is: what did we do wrong?

The answer often boils down to one of two mistakes—we tried to close too early or close the wrong person.

Identifying decision-makers

No matter how great your pitch, trying to close the wrong person won’t result in a sale. Unfortunately, identifying the right sales target isn’t always straightforward.

Many sales reps unwittingly try to close non-decision makers—those without the power to make the buying decision. For example, inexperienced sales reps often target the purchasing department. But while a company’s purchasing team may approve or veto a purchase request, they aren’t tasked with solving business problems.

The true decision makers in a company have direct effects on business outcomes. The exact roles of these people may vary depending on company size and industry, but are often C-level or department heads.

Once you know the role you’re targeting, you need to discover who in the company holds that position. Then gain access to their ear.

Social selling has made this process simpler, faster, and more accurate. Social networks now give us access to a wealth of information on team structures for most companies. So pinning down decision makers is no longer a guessing game—and it requires much less detective work.

Search functions let you search within a company or to across multiple companies by a specific job role. Additionally, social selling lets you leverage your prospect’s extended networks. By following the team structure you can open multiple contact points for your sale—a valuable tool since most B2B buying decisions now involve an average of 5.4 decision makers.

Jumping the gun

Nurturing a successful sales relationship comes with challenges—even when you’re in conversation with the right person. Salespeople must be excellent communicators; they also have to read people and interpret in-between the lines.

Many sellers get their timing wrong. They try and close too soon, blowing their chances of making a sale. Recognizing when a prospect is ready to buy comes with experience—and time spent fine-tuning your sales intuition is time well spent.

Although there are no hard and fast rules for when to launch into your close, there are some tell-tell signs to look out for.

Ready-to-Close Sign #1: Your prospect goes from “if” to “when”

Mere semantics may seem trivial, but they reveal an important shift in your prospect’s mind. Moving from “if we buy” to “when we implement” shows that they’re ready to move forward to buying stage.

Ready-to-Close Sign #2: Your prospect wants to talk money

Once a prospect returns to asking about price (especially further along in your sales pitch), they’re likely getting ready to pull out the company pocketbook.

Ready-to-Close Sign #3: Your prospect starts calling you

There’s perhaps no stronger signal that a prospect is primed for the close than if they actively seek you out for information.

When used in conjunction with face-to-face interaction, social selling empowers you to identify the best time to close.

By tracking shifts in your prospects’ online behavior, you can better evaluate the right time to close without running the risk of annoying them. Keep an eye on what they share, who they interact with, and what subjects they’re discussing—you can even set up alerts with Sales Navigator to get email notifications on your prospects’ updates.  

Less guesswork equals greater sale success

Target the wrong person or try to close too soon and you’ll to lose the sale. It happens to the best of us, but thanks to social selling, it’s happening less and less.

Social media platforms, especially those targeted towards businesses, remove the guesswork. They can greatly increase your chances of making the sale. Top closers know how to leverage social media to find the right prospects—and know exactly when they’re ready to buy.

Want to boost your sales success rate with social selling? Discover 25 secrets to better leverage LinkedIn for sales.