In 2005, everyone had computer access and a cell phone. None of us had streaming TV, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, or Skype. Faxing was still big. Important information still regularly came in your physical mailbox. 2015 is a year where the 2005 plan just won't cut it.
The biggest difference in the sales world is that prospect and buyers expect to be part of the sales process. Interactive sales are the norm. Clients will want custom products, and they will tell you how they are willing to let you sell it. Anyone can open their phone and Google your "facts," and comparison shopping is almost instantly available to every customer. What's a sales pro to do?
Interacting with your client doesn't just mean showing up for a meeting anymore. Now we text, tweet, video chat, email, and LinkedIn message our customers and our prospects. Following a prospect on social media keeps us in the loop as their attitudes and goals change and evolve. And they follow us, and our competition, too. The sheer volume of available information has made consumers a much more educated group.
How does this affect closing? Focus on helping your prospect meet their goals and relieve their pain points. Listen as much as possible to how your solution will be implemented and how it will benefit the customer's plans. People commit to relationships they believe are honest and beneficial, so it's important that your client doesn't feel sandbagged in the closing process. (After the commitment has been made is not the time to throw in, "Oh, by the way, I need you to sign this.")
Written agreements give you the authorization to handle sensitive information, and give the customer a record of the commitments you and your company have made. Emphasize that your agreement protects your client's privacy; it limits who has access to their information, and for what purpose. When a prospect asks you for a commitment, that's a great time to agree, hold up your agreement and say, "and we put it in writing."
Don't be surprised if your client pulls out an agreement of their own for you to sign on behalf of your company. More and more purchasing departments in companies small and large have "contractor agreements," which usually supersede any other oral or written agreements. They often include non-disclosure clauses, and penalties to the vendor if the solution is late, ineffective, or improperly maintained. Make sure you have permission to sign before you go ahead and do it. If you're not sure, bring it back to the office with you and hand it off to your boss.
Your competition isn't local anymore. Your competition is anything a customer can find on the internet. If someone else out there offers a nuance or policy that your customers like or want, they will pressure you to offer it, too. Welcome to the interactive sale.