Running a successful business requires you to master a whole host of different skills. And one skill in particular can mean the difference between success and failure – closing deals. There’s no doubt that closing deals is one of the hardest challenges that many new entrepreneurs face. Whether your customers are individuals (B2C or business-to-consumer) or businesses (B2B or business-to-business), here are some ideas to consider along the way to closing your first deal.
Network with Everyone
Networking is without a doubt one of the most important skill sets for a budding entrepreneur. It separates the winners from the wannabes. Many entrepreneurs find that a fair percentage of their opening deals come from friends, relatives, former colleagues, and even classmates. Networking in this manner offers many benefits:
- less daunting trying to promote services to people you know;
- they will provide great insight and feedback;
- you know their backgrounds and whether they suit your target market; and,
- they may refer you to other people in their network.
The last point is a big one. The power of a well-established network is not just the sales you can make among those you know, but it’s the potential for closing deals in their networks too. If you’re not on LinkedIn or using it to build your network, start now (here’s a good article to get started.) The support gained from those around you can provide a fantastic platform to help you iron out the kinks in your organization, product or service, before you expand. After all, excellent communication sits at the heart of all business interactions, not least when trying to close a deal. It’s better to hear it first from those you know, before you invest more time and money.
Pick up the Phone
We live in a world where it’s very easy to conduct our business matters through email. While this can be a useful form of communication, it also makes it very easy for prospective clients to ignore your message. It’s passive and, in my experience, won’t lead to many meaningful opportunities. Opt for a more direct approach, such as speaking directly to potential clients over the phone. You’ll reap the following benefits:
- a chance to sell your biggest USP – you;
- offer a personalized service built to solve their problems;
- give far greater detail than an email; and,
- judge their reaction and pivot course as needed.
Face-to-face interactions are even better. When supported by Warren Buffett’s four tips for bringing the conversation to your desired outcome, you won’t go wrong. Apart from anything else, this is a far quicker process than using email, and more effective than phone conversations. Body language plays an important role in how you present and adjust your pitch.
We’ve all heard the phrase “speculate to accumulate” and, sometimes, you have to accept that spending money is the only way to make it. First and foremost, actively advertising helps spread awareness. However, there are many other benefits to consider, such as:
- staying fresh in the mind, which is crucial considering the path to conversions;
- increasing authority and reputation of your brand;
- showcasing the personality of the brand as well as its products and services; and,
- engaging clients with more effective interactions.
Advertising can take place across various platforms from traditional (TV, radio, print and billboards) to digital (banner ads, social media, email); while influencer marketing and affiliate networks can also bring new clients to your door. Assuming you follow those activities in the right manner, conversion rates should soar. Most startups should focus on targeted marketing through digital channels in lieu of national branding campaigns. The later takes large budgets and more time. Targeted direct marketing can build your sales pipeline fast.
Leverage Experts to Help You
A little humility can go a long way when starting a company. Teaming up with others, or simply gaining a mentor/advisor, can work wonders. These rules for engagement from Harvard Law School’s blog are a great starting point. However, the concept of joining forces can be even more beneficial because:
- you can run joint marketing programs with non-competing partners;
- they can give advice from a consumer’s perspective;
- you’ll learn to spot the techniques that they use well, and those that they use not so well; and,
- they’ll help you see what sets your business apart from the rest.
Knowing your products and brand image is integral to closing deals while embracing tried and tested methods from other success stories can only serve you well. If coat-tailing can give you an edge, it’s imperative that you grab that chance with both hands.
In the end, getting comfortable closing deals will be a key driver in the success of your venture. Happy negotiating!