Death Of The Closer...Why Business Development Wins 11 Times Outta 10!Apr 05, 2022
Is this the death of the "Closer"?
I've been mentored by, competed with and coached some of the best "Closers" in the selling profession throughout various industries over my career. I have immense respect for them all and their respective talents, but the markets have evolved and so has the profession. Smart selling professionals and business owners recognize this transition and continue to adjust and improve. The rules have changed and the skills that add value and propel the top performers to the top of the profession have as well.
In this information, data & consumer-driven environment, what truly is the most important skill(s) for today's Selling Professionals? It isn't simply to "close the deal" although it still matters a whole bunch. But today's markets demand more attention, consideration and engagement, and they will accept nothing less.
I cut my teeth in professional selling throughout the late 80s & 90s buying and selling was just beginning its tectonic, albeit slow, shift from a seller dominated to consumer dominated model. Deregulation, consumerism and competition each played their roles in helping to sharply pivot the seller-consumer dynamic 180-degrees in favor of the consumer.
Most salespeople still rely on the tactical approach of waiting for the leads to be delivered to them, whether it's walk-in or digitally, and work towards closing the prospect. This system does reward the traditional "closers", but it is a system locked in a death spiral from which there is no escaping.
Expectations continue to rapidly increase amongst buyers, and that trend is only magnified and amplified with the enormous influence and impact of Silicon Valley and social media on the business community at-large.
Bi-directional, omnichannel communication is now easier (some might say more intrusive), more efficient and in the palm of virtually every hand.
Today, high-performance selling demands more from us in terms of a wholistic plan that minimizes the time we ordinarily invest in selling and redirects our focus on creating, cultivating and maintaining genuine client relationships. It also serves to minimize relative traditional advertising expense, so that businesses can re-deploy cash and other valuable resources in other more efficient ways to grow and improve their revenue with lower opportunity cost. This in turn delivers a healthier, more robust net bottom line.
We need more "Creatives"...people who know how to develop their own prospects and business opportunities. These are people who are relatable, knowledgeable and adept at developing vibrant and valuable relationships with their clients. They employ traits like empathy, relatability and the perception that they can address all of their client's related needs no matter how tangential they might be. They demonstrate real expertise in problem-solving thereby creating a "halo-effect" perception with their clients.
This philosophy is something that I have been developing, using personally and teaching for the last 22 years integral to my proprietary system THE 7PILLARS OF KILLER BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT™. We teach, guide and coach Selling Professionals how to focus on a blending a short-term "sense of urgency" to accomplish daily tasks with the patience of "1000 year thinking" to allow the results to catch up to their efforts. This philosophy is a bit contradictory to the old way of thinking that clamors for immediate results often yielding the collateral damage of employee and client turnover due to the pressures it creates to just "close" the deal. It also tends to create bad business practices that can often cause ethical, and in some cases legal, concerns. In today's climate, that approach simply isn't smart and definitely not worth the associated risk.
What does this mean in straight forward terms. Well, it imposes a bit more responsibility and accountability on the part of the individual selling professional. However, everything considered, the rewards are so abundant, that to consider not employing this philosophy is no longer even an option. That's simply because everyone involved receives a net improvement on the quality of their experience as well as a better yield on that experience.
It calls for a better prepared, more engaged and active selling professional, and one of the richest rewards they receive is a higher degree of respect, loyalty and predictability in their business. The elite of these very best career selling professionals are what I refer to as 5-Tool Selling Pros™.
Bona fide 5-Tool Selling Pros™ possess a powerful set of skills that deliver exponentially better performance and production. The skills they value and constantly hone and improve are:
- Interpersonal/Relationship Building Skills
- Engaging Digital Marketing/Content Creation Skills
- Critical Thinking/Listening Skills
- Sales & Closing Skills
- Client Relationship/Retention Skills
People will use technology to determine what they want to buy, rent or own, but who they choose do business with is still a people opportunity, and they very best 5-Tool Selling Pros™ will win...AND WIN BIG!
The colliding of people and technology is well underway, yet the inherent value of the human element appears to be less and less recognized by the most obvious of the fiscal beneficiaries of relationship selling. In challenging economic times, as business owners, we can fall victim to hyper-focusing on expense reduction, as old school salespeople we tend hopelessly search for the "good old days". Combine that with the tone-deaf techno-gods of Silicon Valley who remain enamored with buttons and bytes, and we can end up with at the worst disregard for the value of human connection, but worse an unhealthy indignation for it. Leaning into pure technology solutions to a sales performance challenge or opportunity can be intoxicating, instead I encourage us all to commit to making people the priority. The good news is that this represents huge opportunity for smart business owners and sharp selling professionals committed to high-performance business development through relationship-oriented prospect cultivation and long-term client retention.
Sandy Cerami is a nationally-recognized Business Expert and Speaker who consults and writes about topics ranging from Sales, Branding and Business Development to Organizational Culture, Leadership and Effective Communication. For more information and free resources and online materials for your business or career click here!