Sometime back I was visiting another province, attending a workshop and sitting next to me was a jewellery maker. During one of the breaks, he showed me the items he makes and I fell in love with a ring in the connection. When I asked if I could buy it he said “No, it’s my only sample.” My response was that if I got into my car to drive back to Johannesburg, I would go cold and he would never sell that ring to me.
He disagreed. He felt that I would still be interested when we meet at the next workshop. As it turned out, the next workshop never happened and I never saw him again. By the time I was 30 minutes into my trip back home I had already fallen out of love with the ring. The moment had passed; life would go on without me owning that ring. He didn’t close the deal while I was hot!
Let us compare this story with budding entrepreneur Lesego Malatsi of Mzanzi Designers Emporium. We were hosting a group of Australian visitors in Johannesburg and one of the men really liked the jacket Lesego was wearing from his collection. He sold it to the visitor, right there and then, straight off his back!
The message is clear: the longer it takes to close the deal, the less likely it is to happen. You may be thinking “but my deals have a long sales cycle” and this could easily be the case. But even complex deals need to be budgeted for, so the sooner you enter the customer’s budget, the more likely you are to close the deal when the requirement arises.
Often we try to go for the big sale when approaching a new prospective customer. Put yourself in their shoes – would you spend your entire budget with someone who you are not sure can and will deliver?
Demonstrate that you will deliver by making a small sale and the volumes will grow as your credibility with the customer grows. In my personal and business life I always prefer to use the same suppliers, and this is no different to the way most of us behave. When you have delivered perfectly the first time to a customer, you make their life very easy. They can stop shopping around and give you all their business.
The key points to remember are: the longer it takes, the least likely it is to happen and start with a small sale and make sure it grows.