Percentages are important in sales, not the least bit because commission checks tend to be calculated as a percentage of our monthly quotas. Percentages also factor into much of our decision making, including what percentage of our day we choose to dedicate to prospecting versus follow-up and administrative work (Spiro can help you eliminate much of the latter).

But there is one percentage that’s probably more important to salespeople than the others: their closing percentage. This is the proportion of leads that turn into closed deals — a figure salespeople should always be thinking about improving, especially if they want their commission checks to go up as well.

But how does one increase their closing percentage, especially when we’re all so focused on closing deals that we usually don’t have the time to get into the weeds with our numbers?

While there’s no guaranteed way to ensure that your closing ratio goes up, doing the following things will definitely help:

1. Define (then refine) your value proposition 

Why should a prospect do business with you and your company, and, more importantly, how does your product solve problems and provide more value than the alternative(s)? You should be able to easily answer this question, and if you can’t, then you need to make finding the answer a top priority. Once you’ve got your value proposition nailed down, work on simplifying it and making it easy for everybody else to understand. Define, then refine your value prop. It’s one of the most important things a salesperson can do.

2. Spend more time learning about the prospect 

While most of us are hyper-conscious of not wasting time on things that might not pan out, one place you don’t want to skimp on is prospect research. To be clear, you don’t want to spend hours and hours reading up on every bit of minutia you come across, but it’s important to have the proper context when dealing with people whose business you’re asking for. Not only will you be a more informed seller, but the prospect will appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn.

3. Approach every conversation with an outcome in mind 

One of the most impactful ways you can ensure you hit your goals is by having a concrete next step before every customer interaction. This means that you always have an “ask,” whether it’s simply booking another meeting, asking for a signed contract, or scheduling a time to present options to other stake-holders. While this might seem like overkill, not only will it keep you accountable, it will ensure that the sales process moves along as quickly and efficiently as possible.

4. Make time to contact old prospects 

Some of the best opportunities a salesperson has aren’t in the future, they’re in the past. Always go through your prospect list and follow back up with people who you’ve talked to in the past, as you will have the advantage of contacting people who already know you. While the close rate on these prospects won’t be sky-high, there’s a good chance that you can find some gems who are in a better position to buy than they were before — and you won’t have to rely on any new leads to find them.

5. Ask for referrals 

While referrals have some of the highest closing percentages in sales, few salespeople (and few organizations) actually have a formal referral process in place. Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping a referral magically appears, make sure to have a formal referral process, whether it’s automated, or simply – and perhaps more effective – an ask after every (successful) customer transaction. Don’t leave referrals to fate. Make sure you’re not afraid to ask, otherwise you may be waiting a long time.

6. Make things as easy as possible for the prospect 

At the end of the day, prospects want things to be easy. This means that you should always strive to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and consider what you’re asking them to do. Far too often, salespeople put the burden on the prospect rather than on themselves, asking for them to do research, leg-work, and other things that make the idea of doing business a chore, rather than a positive experience. Sales reps who flip this on its head and make it a point to make the prospect’s life (and buying process) as easy as possible will gain an edge over their competition and will watch their closing percentage increase accordingly.

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