If you've ever attempted to close a major sale, you'll know that dealing with prospective clients or customers can feel just as daunting as stepping into the ring with Lewis or De La Hoya. The following sales scenarios can be devastating blows to a salesperson. So if you've ever experienced a knockout in the sales ring, read on to find out how your skill and dexterity can lead to a comeback and a sale.

You can't get your foot in the door with a prospect.

Aim for the top.

Every salesperson knows how challenging it can be to get face time with a prospect. You could be selling calorie-free cheesecake to the diet industry, but if you can't make contact with the right person, you'll never close the sale.

Most salespeople start low in the organizational structure and hope they'll eventually get referred to the decision maker. But why not start at the top and contact the CEO directly? In most situations, he won't take your call, but that's not the point. Most CEOs will refer you to someone else in an attempt to get you off their backs. And because CEOs deal with individuals higher up in the organization, odds are you'll get referred to a VP or manager. If you're really lucky, that person, seeing that the call came via the CEO, may give you extra consideration.

There's very little differentiating you from the competition.

Counter Strategy
Paint a picture of the industry.

In a competitive situation, most salespeople focus on the superiority of their product or company. Unless you have a truly unique product (and despite your corporate mantra, very few companies actually do), these differences are insignificant to your prospect. She wants to know how your product can benefit her company – she doesn't care how long you've been in business or how many people work in your manufacturing facility.

If you really want to knock out the competition, turn your pitch around and focus on your prospect's industry and company. Spend a few minutes discussing recent industry trends, facts, figures and predictions. You want your prospect to think of you as an industry expert who's working with her to find a solution to her problem, rather than as a salesperson trying to close a deal.

You can't seem to connect with a prospect.

Ask the right questions.

Often the key to closing a deal is to ask the right questions. Most salespeople ask questions about the prospect's wants, needs and means, but fewer salespeople keep asking questions as a way to connect with their prospect.

At the beginning of the sales cycle, you want to get your customer talking. Resist the temptation to inundate him with product information. Instead, ask open-ended questions – what, where, when, who and how.

Later on, you'll want to get an idea of what your prospect is thinking and how close he is to making a decision. Close-ended questions beginning with Do you, Will you, Would you or Have you will help your prospect gather his thoughts and focus on specific concerns.

If your prospect is having trouble committing to your product, but you can't pinpoint his concerns, ask hypothetical questions to get him to open up. If price were no object, what solution would you implement? If you could invent your own technology to solve this problem, how would it work? Anything that will get your customer to stop focusing on the details and start thinking about the big picture.

 1. International Communications Industries Association, Inc.

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