Sunday, November 24, 2013

Closing Every Software Sale

Book review of How to Close Every Sale - Field-tested, can't-lose techniques to win lifetime customers - and make every sale stick! by Joe Girard (published 2002 by Warner Books).

This book about face-to-face selling can help microISVs sell desktop/laptop software, iPhone/Android apps, and software as a service (SaaS) on the Internet.

Joe Girard has been named "the world's greatest salesman" by The Guinness book of World Records. In a period of fifteen years, Girard sold 13,000 cars, with no fleet sales and no leases.

Unlike the majority of sales books that emphasize closing each sale, Girard points out that every salesperson has to create the need for his or her product or service. We must create the desire to own what we're selling. As Girard says, "The prospect must believe that your product has more value than his or her money."

Prospects don't like hard sell. Most people don't like dealing with an overbearing salesman or saleswoman. Software developers can learn from this advice. By making your website congenial and professional, you can convince prospects to make the software-buying decision, without resorting to hard sell tactics.

In addition to selling your software, Girard tells us, you have to sell yourself and sell your company. A professional website does a lot of this work on your behalf. In addition, your website has to convey both conviction and enthusiasm. Your prospects need to think that you're proud of your family of software applications, and that you believe that they're valuable.

"I don't have anything on my walls to confuse my customers," Girard tells us about his office. "There are no photographs of cars because I don't want a prospect to think about any other model except the one that I'm selling him. Nor is my desk cluttered with anything that might be distracting."

Girard would probably advise developers to get rid of many of the distractions on their websites, too. Don't lose prospects by letting them click on links to your trade association, local weather forecast, or favorite sports team. Distracting prospects can damage your software marketing efforts. Keep them focused on the prize - on your software programs and the benefits that they'll enjoy when they own your software.

Girard believes that more face-to-face sales are lost to procrastination than to any other problem. Many prospects are afraid to make decisions, and they'll say that they want to "think it over". The web turns your prospect's computer into a procrastination machine. Software developers have to convince prospects that now is the time for them to make the buying decision. Ask for the sale, and make it easy to people to order your software.

One of the closing techniques that Girard talks about in "How to Close Every Sale" is the Follow-the-Leader close. "Some prospects will buy only after they know that prominent people have signed up." On the Internet, this means that user testimonials can nudge prospects to become customers. Make it easy for prospects to find your endorsements and testimonials.

There's a fascinating chapter on the dangers of overselling. Girard admonishes us not to confuse prospects with too many details. You can overwhelm people, and lose the sale.

I don't think Joe Girard would be a fan of the shareware concept. When people tell him that they want to think about his proposal and talk to him in a few days, he always says, "I'm sorry but I don't make callbacks."

If Joe Girard can't sell you a car in a single sales presentation, he won't set up a second appointment to try again to close the sale. He's so good at selling, he'd rather work with a new prospect than meet with today's prospect a second time.

Imagine how Joe Girard would feel if he learned that there is an entire industry that turns down sales, and forces prospects to try before they buy. I'm sure he'd urge shareware authors to try to close every sale, and to use the "try before you buy" technique as a backup sales approach. But he would be amazed that there is an entire sales methodology based on telling people not to buy now.

The book contains advice on going for the big sale (in the world of microISV sales, this would be selling multi-user licenses or site licenses), saying "thank you," staying in touch with your customers, providing customer service, and doing all of the things that ensure both referrals and future sales.

To get the most value out of "How to Close Every Sale," you'll have to translate Joe Girard's advice about face-to-face sales into the marketplace of selling software over the Internet. But it's worth the work. Joe Girard is an enormously successful salesman, and most of his advice and techniques can help software developers increase sales of their applications.

The book is an easy read, and full of good ideas.

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