How To Close Sales In Difficult Selling Markets

by Charlie Cook

I remember when I first started selling my consulting services over twenty years ago. I wasn’t selling something anyone could see or touch, just ideas. At that point, I thought senior managers should hire me to help them improve their teamwork and communication skills.

Just by being in the right place at the right time, my first project fell into my lap. While still working on my master’s, actually my second master’s degree, I was looking for a research project and ended up getting a consulting job with one of the biggest companies here in Stamford, Connecticut, which at the time had become a mecca for corporate headquarters.

My big surprise: Not all jobs fall into your lap. After that first consulting job, landing my next, and then the next, was hard work. And some years, when companies were cutting back on consultants, it got even harder.

Whether you sell intangibles, like consulting services, or tangibles, like hearing aids or sunglasses – over the course of the last year and a half, selling has gotten harder. Corporations and consumers are cutting back. Cash flow is reduced, and unlike my first consulting job, juicy jobs aren’t falling into most people’s laps.

How to Get More Buyers and Double Your Sales


–  Focus your efforts on your best prospects: those people who would reap the greatest benefit from your product or service.

–  To make cold calling work for you to generate leads, target the people who not only need your product or service, but also, most importantly, are actively looking for what you sell.

–  Identify the people in the greatest pain: the people in the company who have the greatest interest in the solution you provide.

–  Use a phone script that targets your prospect’s problem and their interest in achieving the same success as one of their peers you’ve sold to.


–  Don’t lead with your product or service benefits.

–  Diagnose before you prescribe. Tailor all your questions about product or service usage to your customer’s needs. This requires first leading with a set of diagnostic questions.

–  To beat the competition, even if they are bigger than your company, figure out what you do better, your unique competitive advantages, and use these to position your business as the leader.

–  Bring up these advantages in a conversation, not a sales presentation.

Lead With Questions

–  Use questions to structure the conversation with your buyer.

–  Don’t have the same sales conversation with every customer. Customize it according to your prospect’s primary concerns.

–  Structure your sales conversation based on the customer’s business, not your product.

–  Help your buyer envision using your product or service.

–  Don’t project your solution onto the buyer without first letting the buyer own the solution.

Base Your Selling Sequence On How People Buy

Base your selling sequence on how people like to buy, not how you like to sell. Structure your selling to answer the four things buyers ask themselves:

–  Do I have a need to change?

–  Do I see a product or service that appears to meet my needs?

–  What’s the cost of doing it?

–  What’s the risk of doing it?

What you, as a seller, need to do:

–  Determine if buyer has a need.

–  Provide proof that product or service will meet customer’s vision.

–  Disarm risk and price objections without dropping price.

–  Avoid winging it. Structure your sales process, your sales conversation, to be customer centric. Write the conversation template out and create variations based on varying types of customers’ needs. Then role-play and practice conversations.

Qualify Your Prospects

–  How do you qualify your prospects? Ask yourself:

–   Am I talking to someone who can buy?

–   Does that person have a goal or a problem that matches what I (we) do really well?

–   Did I diagnose the problem?

–   Do I see enough potential value in the goal they want to achieve?

–   What’s their vision for a solution, and do they get the benefits of my (our) product or service?

Overcome Objections and Get The Sale

–  When a buyer goes negative, realize that is a good thing; the buyer is interested and then acknowledge it’s a big decision and then refresh the buyer’s memory about why they told you they wanted your product or service.

–  The final step in the selling process is to shut up. Wait for the buyer to ask you for the order.

Your Action Plan

What you do next will determine if you double your sales this year.

  1. Start by creating your list of questions to identify who are your best prospects.
  2. Create your list of diagnostic questions to use with prospects to clarify their needs.
  3. Write out the questions you’ll be using to structure your sales script.
  4. Create a customized version of it aimed at one specific niche.
  5. Test by role-playing it and then try it with your prospects.
  6. Remember to avoid presenting and instead focus on using the questions to get your prospects to sell themselves, and you’ll get results and see your profits grow.
(VALUE: $200)
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