In person sales are a talent of mine. I’m not the most silver-tongued devil out there, but I’m not afraid to stand in front of another person, tell them about my product, and ask for their business. It’s immensely helpful that I genuinely believe my product has value and that I have a list of clients to testify to that effect.
This is off the top of my head and has no mathematical basis whatsoever, but here’s an estimate of my close ratio based on different types of communication:
- Email close ratio: 10%
- Phone call close ratio: 35%
- In-person close ratio: 60%
These numbers assume that the lead has a mild interest and some available funds to pursue a project.
Note the huge jump between email correspondence and an in-person meeting. Knowing that the ratio is so much higher for a phone call or meeting means that my #1 goal in email correspondence is to get you on the phone. At the bottom of my first email to you, you’ll often see the phrase:
Do you have time for a phone call this week?
Can you call my office tomorrow at 9:00am?
With this phone call, I’ll often feel the prospect out for the next step. Sometimes I try to get their business then and there, other times I’ll go for a meeting. It’s a judgment call based on my instincts about the client. When in doubt, go for a meeting.
If for any reason I feel like the lead is a dead end, or is just not willing to take a call I do one of the following via email:
- Present an invoice and payment method. Asking for business is a hard thing, but it has to happen. If you wait for people to volunteer it, your closing ratio will suffer. I’ve sat in on sales meetings where an inexperienced sales rep will spend an hour outlining the product and extolling its virtues, only to forget to ask for the sale at the end! The best way to avoid this mistake via email is to state that you’re ready to start the project and to clearly outline your payment method. Here’s an excerpt from one recent email:
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today! I’ve attached an invoice to cover the initial payment on your project so we can get started. You can make a payment online at website payment address, or call my office and we’ll do it over the phone. If you have any questions, please email or call me anytime.
If upfront payment isn’t part of your business model (even though it should be) try to cement the deal with a contract. I use a digital signature service so customers can sign contracts online.
- End by asking a leading question to keep the communication open. The longer you stay in touch with your prospect, the better your chances of closing a sale. You have to keep current on your follow ups for this to work! Just reference anything from your communication so far and ask them to elaborate. People love to talk about their ideas.
- Be super helpful. One of the best ways I’ve found to get clients off the fence is to offer them free advice. I say things like:
Email me when you start doing blank. It’s not part of my business, but I’ve worked on blank before and I can probably point you in the right direction.
- Share a lead. People will be extremely receptive to you if they think they can make money off of you. Look into setting up a referral partner for this kind of thing. Nothing schedules a call faster than “I think I may have a lead for you. Are you available for a phone call?”
- Ask for permission to follow up. Something like:
I’d like to follow up with you when you hit the next stage of your project. When do you think would be a good time for that?
Don’t forget to follow up with them.
- Create a sense of urgency. Be careful with this one because it’s a gamble that doesn’t always pay off. If your client is teetering on making a decision, imply that your offer will expire or that there will be something to lose if they don’t act quickly. This is a classic sales technique (just watch any auto-dealership commercial on TV). The line I use most often in email is:
If you could, let me know about this project by Tuesday morning. We’ve scheduled another client for work this month, but I’d like to get you in before we start them so we can finish in your time frame.
None of these are magic bullets to close sales, but hopefully they’ll help you develop your own style. Remember that while having a few go-to tactics to help out in tough situations is nice, they are no t a substitute for hard work, common courtesy, and a product that you believe in.