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Make a Friend, Get the Sale Don't quite know why you're not closing more sales? Our Sales Expert thinks you may need more connections on the inside.

By Danielle Kennedy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I'm a new business owner of a sales/customerservice training company. My problem is I get in the door topresent a proposal, but then the prospect comes up with a millionexcuses why he or she can't take advantage of my services rightnow. What can I do to close more sales?

A: All new entrepreneurs face a common challenge: nohistory or credibility with the prospect. You mentioned that theprospect claims your price, proposal and professionalism are justwhat they're looking for, but then they don't give you thebusiness. Know that you could be losing the business to yourcompetition because your competition has people working behind thescenes to help get them the account. Those who have others going tobat for them always have an advantage. So your job is to identifyand train more people to help you close more sales.

1. Identify an individual. When you go out on a salescall, look for helpers. For example, it may take you several weeksto get your toe in the door to do a presentation. You check inregularly with the secretary or receptionist and eventually he orshe helps you get that appointment. Perhaps your future helperdoesn't work for the company but is someone you work out withor see at church. This person may have a connection with thedecision-maker. Listen. Ask questions. It's a small world whenyou start opening your eyes to seek assistance.

2. Express your appreciation. The receptionist finallybugged her boss enough to see you or the woman on the treadmill yousee every morning at the club says, "Hey, I know Sue well. Ican get you an appointment." Say to her, "Mary, Ican't tell you how much I appreciate your endorsement."Too often, a lack of appreciation is evident once the appointmenthas been attained. Keep reminding the helper you don't takethis type of endorsement for granted. Continue to report yourprogress during the sales process. Helpers like to be kept informedand appreciated.

3. Be responsible. When a helper endorses you for thefirst time, they may feel some anxiety because they'reconcerned about their reputation, too. There's nothing worsethan recommending someone who doesn't live up to expectations.So say, "I have a double responsibility. I have to do a goodjob for your reputation's sake, too. I realize you didn'thave to stick your neck out for me."

4. Train the helper. It's important to specify whatneeds to be said about you to the prospect prior to your initialpresentation. When you guide your helper to communicate just theright words about you, it practically assures the sale. Begin theconversation as follows: "First off, let's establish whereyou see my value. Why do you feel comfortable recommendingme?" They may reply with something as basic as,"We've known you since you were seven. And you come from agood family. We know you'll take good care of thecustomer." Next ask the helper, "Can you do me a favor?Can you repeat what you just said about me to Mr. Customer prior tomy 3:00 appointment with him today? E-mail, voice mail or a directcall would all work. I find it's easier for the customer totrust me early on once a friend the customer trusts gives them aheads up about me prior to the appointment."

The secret of building a business faster is to find more helperssooner. When a trusted friend of your prospect intervenes on yourbehalf, the chances of you closing the sale increase by 50percent.

Danielle Kennedy is an authority on selling, developing apeak performance attitude and winning customers for life. Call herat (800) 848-8070 or visit forinformation on consulting for your business.

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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