Closing the Sale: What You Need to Know
Closing the sale is the icing on the cake but only after you have done everything else right. As a qualified sales trainer, I often see people focus on learning how to close the sale without fully understanding what else is involved in the sales process.
Closing The Sale is Like Dating
Compare sales to dating. When you first look to date someone, you check them out to see if you want to get to know them. This is akin to forming a first impression. You go on a date and learn more about each other and decide if you want to date them again. By now you have formed a rapport. You continue to date and start to form a long-term relationship. One day, you decide they are the right person for you and you ask them to marry you.
The BIGGEST mistake many new to selling make is trying to ask someone to marry them before they even had a first date. Many messages I get in my inbox, on Facebook DMs, and LinkedIn smack of buy me-buy-me-buy-me NOW! You don’t ask people to marry you before a first date therefore you shouldn’t push your sales pitch before you get to know them better.
Firstly you must build rapport, for without rapport you can’t get anywhere near close to closing the sale. Even if you build rapport, there is a sales process you must go through before you get to the point where you can close a sale.
The Point Where You Can Close the Sale
Closing is the icing on the cake and something you should expect to happen if you follow the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ and meeting process. Remember, although closing and landing the buyer as a paying customer is your primary objective, it comes towards the end, not at the beginning, when you first meet with the prospect.
Getting to the close can happen quickly, or it can take multiple contacts and meetings depending on the prospect’s timeline and the products or services you offer. Complex sales can take a long time, especially if you respond to a request for proposal (RFP) or are dealing with very high-ticket sales.
Anytime you contact the buyer, you should also be thinking about closing the sale. You can’t be so busy thinking about the buying and selling process you forget about closing. Equally, you can’t only be thinking of closing the sale without supporting it with the buying and selling process. They are like both sides of a coin; they need to work together.
Why Closing the Sale is Important
Did you know that 44% of salespeople won’t follow up after one rejection? Around 22% stop following up after two rejections. Another 12% will stop following up after four rejections, yet 80% of sales happen between 5 and 12 contacts with the buyer.
If you walk away after one or two rejections, you have opened the door for another salesperson to take the business from you. This happens because you have groomed the prospect to warm them to finally making the buying decision. Then along comes another salesperson who closes the sale instead of you. Therefore, it’s critically important to keep in contact with a buyer regularly without stalking them.
Trial Close, Direct Close & Indirect Close
The Trial Close, Direct Close, and Indirect Close are all valid means of getting to yes. How and when you use them will depend on your confidence levels and where the prospect is in the buying cycle.
Converting the buyer and closing the sale boils down to presenting them with a choice of buying or not buying from you. The idea is to do it in such a way that it is more palatable for the prospect. A trial close is an excellent way to check which way they are likely to go.
Imagine you have been dating someone for a while, and you are thinking of asking them to marry you. You are not sure; you might test them out by asking if you want to get married one day. This is known as a trial close; it gives you the courage to go to the next step. Will you marry me would be considered a direct close?
If you said, “Where would you like to for a honeymoon?” it is considered an indirect close, which takes the stress out of a pure yes or no answer.
A trial close is not a standard closing technique; it is used to assess if the buyer is ready to buy yet. If you were selling real estate, you might ask, “Seems like you really like this house, don’t you?” A direct close would be, “Do you want to buy the house?” and an indirect close would be, “Let me draw up an offer for you to sign.” When meeting with your buyer, you might want to test them with a trial close first, depending on how confident you are.
Depending on how they respond, you might say, “Let’s draw up the contract” or “Would you like me to start next week or the week after?”
Closing the Sale Techniques
The following is a selection of techniques to help you close the sale.
The Question Close
Asking a feedback question such as:
- “In your opinion, how will this solution I am offering will resolve your problem (or enable the opportunity)?”
Note the use of the words “how will,” This question allows you to discover whether the prospect is sold on your products or services, keeping the door open for you to pursue future business. If the answer is ‘negative,’ remember it’s only an opinion and lets you know you have more work to do. If the buyer answers ‘yes,’ there is no reason for you to take them to the next step and get them to sign on the dotted line.
- “In your opinion, is there any reason why we can’t proceed with the shipment?”
- “In your opinion, is there any reason why we can’t proceed with the order?”
This question is similar to handling an objection where the words, “In your opinion,” make the prospect look and feel important. It’s less confrontational than, “Is there any reason why we can’t go ahead.” Asking questions in this manner allows you to either close the sales or drill down as to why the customer isn’t entirely convinced yet.
The Assumptive Close
This Assumptive Close draws on the power of positive thinking. If you believe you will close the sale, your belief significantly increases your chances of success.
- “It seems like the proposal and presentation meet your expectations? If that’s the case, let’s get started with the paperwork.”
- “It seems like this (solution) is something that would be valuable to your company? If that’s the case, let’s get started with the paperwork.”
- “It seems like this (solution) meets your target goals? If that’s the case, let’s get started with the paperwork.”
Using the words, “Let’s get started with the paperwork,” is less confronting than saying, sign here!
The Assumptive Close doesn’t allow your prospect to sit on your offer or proposal, giving them time to conjure up an objection, resulting in them backing out of the deal completely. By assuming good intent from the time, you first spoke with the buyer, you’ll bring confidence, authority, and direction to the sales process.
Another way to assume a sale will happen is to discuss a matter that usually follows the sale like ongoing support, or you could pick up on a question like:
- “You mentioned if you could alter the payment terms, I will have the new terms and conditions back to you tomorrow so we can get started.”
- “If you send me your purchase order, I can get started straight away.”
The Alternate Close
The alternative close is a test close when you have already assumed the sale and ask the prospect which alternative, they prefer. For example:
“Do you want me to start this week or next week?”
“Would you prefer delivery during the week or on the weekend?”
“Would you prefer us to deliver at the beginning of the month or the end of the month?”
“Would you prefer the one with all the bells and whistles or the standard option?”
“Would you like the white one or the black one?”
The Porcupine Close
The porcupine close is also a test close where you assume the sale. For example, the buyer might ask a question relating to the product or service you provide.
“Does it only come in black or white?”
- “What color would you like it?”
“Is it available in Red?”
- “We don’t have it in red in stock, but I can check with our other stores to see if we can get it red?”
- “If we have it red, when would you like it delivered?”
The Puppy Dog Close
How do you sell a cute little puppy? You let them take the puppy home for a few days to see how they fit in with your family. Once you get it home and the puppy snuggles up to you and looks at you with those puppy dog eyes, you don’t have the heart to take it back to the pet store. You are in love!
The puppy dog close is that simple. You let the prospect take the product home with them or experience the services you offer firsthand for a trial period. Once they experience your offering’s value, it makes them more willing to make the trial permanent.
The Takeaway Close
If you take a toy away from a child, they want it even more. This psychological approach also works with prospects. If they are balking at the price, remove a feature or service and present a discounted offer minus a critical feature or benefit. Most likely, the prospect will be thinking about what you removed rather than the discounted price.
The Now or Never Close
Sometimes you can make an offer that includes a special benefit that prompts the prospect to buy now. For example:
- “This is the last one in stock at this price, and we won’t be getting any more for another six months
- “This is the last one in stock at this price before the price goes up tomorrow.”
- “I understand time is of the essence. If you commit to buying now, I can fast track your order so that you have it immediately.”
- “We offer a 20% welcome discount just for customers who sign up today.”
This technique creates a sense of urgency and helps you close the sale now. It helps overcome the hesitation a prospect experiences when it comes time to make the buying decision.
The Value Close
Unless you have a unique product or service, it’s likely your competitors can match your offering for up to 70% of the time. Your value proposition becomes essential. Think about what it is you do better than your competition and focus on this. When you focus your presentation or pitch on the 30% you offer, that is different; you are more likely to close the deal if the prospect sees the value in your offering.
The Behind the Scenes Close
The Behind the Scenes Close allows you to highlight the amount of work and time invested following the sale. This approach focuses more on what happens after the sale is concluded. This close is ideal for prospects who appreciate after-sales service and customer support. This is particularly important with software sales, as buyers may struggle with aspects of using the software.
The Opportunity Cost Close
Not all prospects have a problem they want to solve; sometimes, there is an opportunity they wish to pursue. Opportunity cost is the cost of forgoing something by not going ahead with the sale
Like the Now or Never Close, this closing technique taps into the same principle by stressing the opportunity cost the prospect will incur by not going ahead with your solution. Talk about the investment and the return they get on that investment. Focus on what they gain in the long run; reduce overheads, save time and money, increase customer retention as an example. This approach means the buyer will be thinking more about the effects or benefits and what they stand to lose rather than the initial cost.
The Testimonial Close
Throughout the buying and selling cycle establishing rapport and staying in rapport is critical to your success. So is building trust and confidence, which is why the Testimonial Close can be so useful. Instead of talking about the product or services you provide, tell them a story by sharing the experiences of actual prospects who have benefited from your solution.
Testimonials are effective because the opinions of others are neutral, genuine, and free from bias. When you share success stories of users similar to your buyer, you alleviate their concerns or doubts on whether your solution will help them achieve their target goal.
The Calendar Close
There will be times when prospects will sit on the fence and not conclude the sale. You have two choices, wait on them forever to make up their mind or walk away. Whatever you do, don’t give up on them; sometimes, they need time to think things through, and if that’s the case, suggest a date in the near future to finalize the deal. This prompts the prospect to decide one way or the other and eliminates the hassle of going back and forwards. Suggesting a date to make the decision allows you to identify their commitment to signing a deal – you will know very quickly if you will be able to close the sale or not.
The Ben Franklin Close
Benjamin Franklin was not only a great politician, but he was also a brilliant inventor and businessman. Whenever he was hesitant about making a decision, he would draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and list the pros on one side and cons on the other.
When a prospect is hesitant about making a decision, this is a technique that can help you close the sale, providing you know in your mind the pros will outweigh the cons. The Benjamin Franklin close helps the prospect understand how valuable your product or service can be for them.
The Empathy Close
Not every prospect will respond to leverage or pressure when it comes time to close the deal, in which case, sometimes it’s better to take the empathy route. The Empathy Closing technique enables you to use empathy to understand the perspective of your prospects. If a prospect isn’t ready to decide, giving them more time to think than pushing for close help keeps you in rapport. It also continues to build trust and confidence that you are offering the right solution.
The Inoffensive Close
Suppose a prospect is hesitant to give up control and decide. In that case, you can use a question-and-answer strategy to give the illusion of control. Similar to providing three buying options in a proposal, it goes something like this.
- “Based on our discussions, your target goal is (list their target goal), and our option provides (the solution that matches their target goal). Is there anything else I should include in the order I may have missed?”
- “What other benefits would you receive from (the offer) I may have missed that would help you (target goal) and (reduce, increase)?
This approach makes them feel important and assumes the sale already happened. It makes the prospect feel like they are in control as they come up with other ideas.
If All Else Fails…
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to close the sale. If all else fails, walk away with at least something.
- “I understand that we might not the right provider for you. Do you know anyone who would benefit from (your offer) you could refer us to?”
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