As marketing brings in leads, leads must bring sales — or what's the point of all this effort? Indeed, if your leads aren't paying off, there's trouble afoot.

There's a huge difference between being close in a sale, and getting to close on a sale. One pays, and the other, well, doesn't. If the "no close for you" scenario is happening too often at your company, there could be a reason. One of, say, seven reasons:

  1. Too much technical input — The former technician who is wowed by technical features, installation procedures, and the sheer mechanics of a new system often fails to say how any of this actually benefits the customer. Forget trying to impress them with your head knowledge. Impress them instead with their benefits.
  2. Not listening — A customer will give the clues for a sale to the salesperson who is listening. So watch and listen.
  3. Not communicating clear benefits — You can talk all you want about systems, efficiency, prices, financing, maintenance, and your superiority. If the customer can't fit this into their "What's in it for me?" mentality, you may as well just go home. Close on benefits and solutions that make sense to the customer.
  4. Not asking for the sale — In high school, all us guys learned this painful lesson at the prom: No matter how neat your hair was, how cool your outfit was, how many times you flossed your teeth, or that you had the exact right amount of Hai Karate cologne on, eventually you're going to have to ask the girl to dance. Same goes for salespeople. There's a semi-uncomfortable impasse at the end of the presentation where you must get a decision. These closes can move you past that point toward the real point of your visit, which is to get the sale.
  5. Not selling the company — Customers are often convinced of many things in the presentation from you and from all the other companies, but they're looking for that "difference" which is often the integrity of the company. Tell it. Sell it. Close on it.
  6. Not selling your honesty and trustworthiness — Just like the above, too many salespeople get stuck on a great presentation that has no personal feel to it, no relationship, no eye-to-eye transfer of trust. The salesperson that fails to appear honest (even though he or she may be beyond reproach) will not close many sales.
  7. Not presenting the "closing solution" to the customer — This is perhaps the biggest crime of all. A customer wants their "solution" packaged for them (that's why you're there!). Then, they want this package presented as a logical, natural progression from their current situation to your solution for them.

Now that you know what not to do, let me share one very important mindset shift. A full 80% of all sales are made based upon how well you are liked by the customer. From your neatness in appearance, timeliness in arrival, respect to customer's homes, listening skills and more, much of your "sales" are really related to your likeability.

Likeability is more than just smiling, being polite, and complimenting the customer's house as you walk in the door. It's a method of immediately identifying with the customer and starting a relationship.

You don't need to change your personality, just become more "in tune" with your prospects. See things as they do. Pay specific attention to all members of the family who are available at the sales presentation. Laugh with them; acknowledge their fears or concerns; ask permission.

By the time you are halfway through your presentation, you'll be recognized as "one of the family," so make yourself at home and identify with every person you meet.

Being likeable — as simple as it sounds — will be your most powerful closing tool. As you become more of a genuine, caring friend, you'll find people accept your suggestions not like a salesperson, but as an advisor.

Remember, people more likely buy from friends than from strangers. The quicker and more sincerely you become a friend, you'll raise your closing ratio and your number of friends immediately. Not a bad outcome!

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson Ink, a contractor marketing firm. He'll be conducting a marketing seminar a Comfortech 2007, September 26-29 in St. Louis. His company offers turn-key marketing solutions for contractors for lead generation, image, branding, publishes newsletters and offers Monthly Marketing Coaching. Call 800/489-9099, or fax to 334/262-1115, or visitwww.hudsonink.com.