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Why Your Sales Team Can't Close How often have you heard the line, 'My salespeople can't close.' Here is how to fix this issue.

By Joanne Black

This story originally appeared on Salesforce

"My salespeople can't close." How often have you heard that line? If you're a sales leader, you've probably even said it. But closing is never the real problem. Never. That's just the symptom. The problem is that salespeople neglect important activities during earlier stages of the sales process.

Unless you address the broken links in your prospecting system, your results will not be sustainable. It's like back pain. You can stretch and put heat on an aching back, but unless you treat the source of the pain -- a pulled muscle or degenerating disc --your back will continue to hurt.

Related: Want to Write Better Sales Proposals? Follow These 5 Steps.

Put Your Finger on the Real Problem

When you start looking at what really went wrong with missed sales opportunities, you'll typically discover that your salespeople didn't make the time to prepare for the meeting. They didn't plan an agenda, do their research, or even check the client's LinkedIn profile to identify common connections, interests, and similarities. In addition:

  • The initial meeting was unqualified.
  • The salesperson was meeting with the wrong person.
  • The salesperson wasn't asking enough provocative, probing discovery questions.
  • The salesperson left without getting agreement on next steps or scheduling the next call.
  • Follow-up consisted of a series of emails that promoted products, didn't address the concerns of the client, and had no call to action.
  • The salesperson was clueless as to why his emails were greeted with radio silence.

This is not how you wow prospects, build relationships with them, and convert them into clients.

Don't even think about training your sales team on closing techniques. Save your money. Instead, give them a sales process that works.

Related: Not Closing Sales? Look to These 5 Mistakes.

Start at the Source

If your team has trouble closing, go back to the beginning—qualifying prospects—and examine your entire sales process for missing links and broken tactics.

Ask these pointed questions:

  • How did the so-called leads come about in the first place?
  • How were these leads "qualified"?
  • Was the prospect interested in buying or just tire kicking?
  • Were your reps asking the right questions to identify prospects' problems and propose thoughtful solutions?
  • Did they just discuss product features, or did they talk ROI?
  • What was the marketing plan to follow up?

Ask the Right Questions

If the problem is with your prospecting methods, and your reps are chasing cold leads, then they're pretty much set up to fail. But if they're getting in front of the right prospects and still can't seal the deal, they're probably not having the right kind of conversations—or asking the right kind of questions.

Thoughtful and provocative questioning has a huge impact on close rates and sales revenues. When salespeople ask smart, probing questions to understand what their clients really need—not just what the clients think they need—the scale of projects increases, creating win/wins for everyone. Your company gets bigger deals. Clients get solutions that actually solve their problems and create demonstrable business results.

Bravo! You've addressed the problem, not the symptom. Your client looks good, your team is prepared, and deals are yours to win.

Related: To Win More Prospects, Stop Selling and Start Courting

Joanne Black

Referral Sales Expert

Joanne Black is a referral sales expert, interim sales advisor, author and sales speaker.

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