One of the most important events in the sales cycle is the closing of the deal. And many people believe you were either a closer or you were not. As if you are born with the ability and it is in your genetic make up or it is not. I personally don’t believe that that is the case and have the complete philosophy that skills and tactics can be learned and used to drive results and improve the ability to close transactions. An example of a tactic that can be used to improve your close rate is using an evaluation plan.
An evaluation plan is a document that outlines all of the main activities that both the sales person and the prospect must do during the sales cycle to reach an executed agreement. The purpose of this document is not only to outline the path and required steps, but to also level set expectations and secure agreement with the prospect.
A typical evaluation plan will be a table that has four main columns or categories:
- Activity: The first column in the table is for the actual activity or item that needs to be accomplished.
- Owners: Lists who owns or is involved in each step.
- Dates: The date for when the activity needs to be complete.
- Status: Status for the activity.
Filling out evaluation plan for a prospect is only half of the work that needs to be done when trying to improve the close rate. Effectively using it during the sales cycle is the other half as using it correctly is an art in itself. Below are some key ways to best utilize the evaluation plan.
Initial meeting: In an initial meeting with a prospect, a sales person is trying to qualify if the opportunity and prospect are qualified in terms of interest and ability to purchase. One great way to qualify them is by showing an evaluation plan that lists out everything that will need to be done between now and the end of the process. Not only will their reaction help to further qualify, but that is a great time to secure sponsorship and level set expectations.
Revise together: Ideally in a second or third meeting, possibly when some sort of discovery is being executed, it would be productive to revise and build out the evaluation plan with the prospect. Specifically in the area of the prospect’s internal processes and steps, this is a good time to have them outline those and put them down on the evaluation plan. By having the prospect help to build the evaluation plan, their buy in and knowledge of the path forward will be increased helping to improve the close rate.
Email updates: During the sales cycle, it can be helpful to email the prospect the updated evaluation plan that shows activities being completed and any changes that have occurred.
In the home stretch: Executing when the deal is in the home stretch is the key to improving the close rate. By having an evaluation plan that outlines all of the steps that the prospect must execute on their side to pull the trigger will help with managing the prospect at the end of the sales cycle. This can also help with communicating with sales management on where the deal is and how it is tracking.