THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
TO CLOSING THE SALE
Techniques, Tips to Help Salespeople to Seal the Deal
INDEX: SHORTCUTS TO THE GUIDE
The goal of every sales effort is to close. Salespeople don’t just prospect, cold call, research, serve, negotiate or present. Those are all just steps toward the one outcome they want: a closing.
The best salespeople put customers’ needs at the heart of their efforts throughout the sales cycle. Then the close – that final step in the sales process where the prospect agrees to complete the deal – is the payoff for all the time and effort.
While sales close rates vary from industry to industry and company to company, the sales professional can agree that they’d all like to close more deals and more often. More than 70% of salespeople say closing more deals is their top priority.
In sales – and especially in closing – knowledge is power. Here’s your bible for closing the sale.
WHAT THE TOP SELLERS DO RIGHT
Salespeople who close more deals than their average colleagues might work a little harder or smarter, but what often casts them apart are unique approaches to attitude, confidence and enthusiasm.
Here’s what’s at the core of top closers:
- They believe in what they sell. They start every presentation assuming prospects will buy from them because they truly have the best possible solution. Passion for their products and/or services is their most effective closing tool.
- They accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative when they’re closing. Prospects respond far better to positive messages than negative messages. Top closers work hard to keep out negative influences, by remaining upbeat, even when dealing with pessimistic prospects.
- They don’t feel bad for themselves, even when a sale fails to close. They maintain enthusiasm by repeating positive affirmations to themselves, such as, “I will close the sale because I have the best product.”
- They constantly focus on the prospects’ needs. They know that the difference between convincing prospects to buy and convincing them to buy now can come down to a strong understanding of the buyer’s needs. They use benefit statements to create belief in their products or services.
- They speak in terms of value for the prospect. Top closers help prospects see not only the ROI they’re likely to receive, but how much the absence of their product or service is costing each today.
- They listen first, sell second. Instead of making assumptions, top closers ask questions to uncover why prospects buy and how their buying process works.
- They’re patient. Top closers consider the longer buying cycle an opportunity to educate prospects. They recognize that prospects who turn into the best customers may be under cultivation for two or three years.
“Salespeople today are the differentiator,” says Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to BIG Companies “That’s why it’s so critical for you to focus on becoming a valuable business asset to your customers.”
HABITS OF TOP CLOSERS
While attitude is important, so is action. Top closers have some common habits that you can pick up, too.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going,” said business expert and entrepreneur Jim Rohn.
The most common habits are:
- They act the difference. The salesperson is the embodiment of their product or service. Top salespeople set themselves apart from the competition by building trust, urgency, dependability and credibility. They make a solid first impression by delivering on everything they promised when prospecting.
- They sell benefits. Top closers present only the things that are most important in each specific selling situation. There are no cookie-cutter presentations. They break each selling point into either a feature or a benefit that works for their particular prospect. Then they toss the features out the window and only focus on what matters to prospects: benefits. To do that, many top closers ask their most loyal customers why they continue to do business with them – and use those points for their future closing conversations.
- They sell relationships. They approach selling like this: If the competitor put a modest offer on the table, would doing business with me be a good enough reason to keep the customer from leaving? So they send cards, stay in touch through email and social media, offer industry and product insight and solutions that customers may not even ask for.
- They mostly listen. Great closers ask questions first to uncover prospects pain points, needs, wishes and how their buying process works. They take notes during the opening stages to ensure nothing is miscommunicated.
- They thirst for industry knowledge. Top closers believe in “Always Be Closing” and “Always Be Learning.” They know industry hot buttons are constantly changing, and prospects need salespeople who keep up with trends. Strong closers stay ahead by reading blogs, newsfeeds, social media, books and publications related to their industry and their customers’ industries. They listen to relevant podcasts. They attend conferences and seminars – not just to network, but to learn.
- They research relentlessly. Their presentations are on the mark, and their closing rates are above average because they do more research than their colleagues before any They don’t talk to who they can. They figure out who they need to talk to and don’t stop until they get to him or her.
- They religiously manage their time. Top closers spend approximately 50% of their time building relationships. They budget time toward high-priority activities. They weigh their options in terms of which prospect provides the most promise to close, and then move forward accordingly. Most actions and all presentation are done with thought and preparation. Their reward for meticulous time management: They close deals and hit quota nearly 20% more than other salespeople, according to CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group.
- They manage expectations. Before, during and after closing, great salespeople carefully go over exactly what the customer gets. They confirm everything with the buyer to ensure expectations meet reality. This also helps to continue establishing trust.
- They create a closing process. Top closers know the anything can change quickly when they’re trying to close a sale: objections, last-minute changes and competitive bids, just to name a few. Top closers are seldom caught by surprise because they create and maintain a process for closing. They know exactly how to react when the prospect calls an audible. Their quick reactions often save the sale that might have slipped through their fingers.
- They maintain an organizational process. New sales are important, but loyal customers are like money in the bank. That’s why top closers have highly organized sales cycles. They find time every month to stay in contact with existing customers – via email, social media, visits or calls. They might include industry-specific information or just ensure customers are satisfied with their service. The bottom line is top closers regularly find ways to stay on buyers’ radar, so the next closing is even more fluid.
- They proactively survey. Even if their companies survey customers, top closers take the initiative and do it themselves. They call, email or create an online, opt-in survey that’s unique to them and their approach. It also lets customers know that their opinion shapes the selling process.
THE ‘RULES’ OF CLOSING
The importance of closing remains the same in every economy. While the circumstances change, the “rules” – the pillars that build solid relationships and close sales – remain relatively the same:
- Trust is the most essential ingredient to closing the sale.
- The marketplace will only become more crowded, mature and competitive.
- Buyers increasingly buy on value, rather than price alone.
- Buyers look for advisors and business experts who deliver results that exceed basic expectations.
- Buying decisions are made at higher levels due to the strategic importance of purchases.
- Salespeople must customize their approaches.
Thus, salespeople who develop strong relationships with prospects who want relationships, deliver effective solutions to prospects who need solutions, deliver greater value to those prospects who seek value, and offer a speedy transaction to those who seek a quick solution, will close more.
6 fundamentals for closing every sale
Salespeople don’t want to walk away from any sales calls without establishing the answers to these six questions. They’re the fundamentals to become a master closer.
- Did I clearly describe all the benefits of my products or services and what they will do for the client?
- Did I discover the key issue involved in the client’s buying decision (such as I’m too new, too much like XYZ or lack name recognition)?
- Did I uncover the key benefit – either perceived or real – that the client wants from my products or services?
- Did I make lots of “little closes” – agreements along the way – so that the client had an opportunity to make small decisions rather than one big threatening one?
- Did I ask the client to buy – come right out and ask for the order?
- Did I try one more time – when I thought the sale was lost?
If you answer no to any, you can clearly see where your closing techniques need to be spiffed up.
EXERCISES AND STRATEGIES
TO GET MORE CLOSES
Closing isn’t just a physical, paper-laden, hand-shaking game. It’s a mental game, too. And just like in any professional or amateur sport, salespeople can up their closing game by training and exercising.
These exercises and strategy-sharpeners will help:
Top closers are confident. But confidence doesn’t always come easy. Even the most successful salespeople need to take steps to hone their confidence or exercise their way out of a slump.
These mental exercises will help.
- Start with the right kind of self-talk. What you think has a major impact on your confidence and ability to close. It starts with your first thoughts of the day. When you wake, remind yourself of a success or positive impact you expect to have that day. When the day includes a challenge, review what’s gone right and remind yourself to stay tenacious.
- Run mental replays. When confidence slips, or you need a confidence kick before a selling event, mentally review a previous successful sale. Analyze and reinforce the things you did right. Relive the success.
Successful salespeople tap the power of their emotions to help close sales. Making emotional connections can impact confidence and take optimism to a deeper level.
- Even top closers feel some discomfort going into presentations or closings. Prospects can read that as insecurity. That’s when it’s important to rewrite the story. Break down past uncomfortable situations – or the one you perceive you’ll be in – into smaller fragments. Determine the moments or hurdles you fear. Mentally rewrite how you’ll handle them, so the story becomes the reality.
“The best salespeople know that their expertise can become their enemy in selling,” says Mike Bosworth, author of Solution Selling. “At the moment they are tempted to tell the buyer what ‘he needs to do,’ they instead offer a story about a peer of the buyer.”
Sometimes it takes actual action to regain or build confidence or overcome a fear. Then closing becomes even smoother.
- Find your alternative. Pick a behavior, action or situation you might avoid that’s directly related to closing. Come up with a tool or approach to work around it. For instance, if you dislike the paperwork that’s involved in closing, and often put it off and thus delay the closing, set aside time to do that work in bulk once a month. Reward yourself with an early start to a weekend.
CONNECTING TO CLOSE
Most top closers know more about connecting with people than online matchmakers do. They take strides to connect at a granular level, finding what’s unique about each person and his or her needs. At the same time, they share enough about themselves to make prospects so comfortable they open up and share their stories, struggles and needs.
Here are three keys to making connections and building relationships that lead to closing.
- Forget the facts. Focus on the connection. It’s easy for prospects to do their own fact-checking and research online before they ever connect with salespeople. They know several companies are offering the same deal. That’s why the best closers don’t inundate customers with information upfront. Instead, they talk about what people want to talk about: themselves. They ask questions about their work, the struggles and triumphs.
- Be a valued consultant. Salespeople are often in the roles of business consultant and partner in the prospect’s success. To do that, salespeople want to create question-laden presentations, so they learn where prospects need help. Then they can demonstrate a clear understanding of the problems and the ideal solution to help resolve each one.
- Focus on problems, not products. True connections are built around a common understanding of and concern for the issues prospects face – and not so much around a product, solution or sale. Offer advice and invite prospects to call to ask for more about something that has nothing to do with the sale.
The road to closing can be long. And even if it’s short, it’s important to stay connected with prospects so then the closing situation is as amicable as friends enjoying beers and professional as a businesspeople meeting.
To stay connected:
- Tap into social media networking. More than 70% of salespeople who use social media networking in their sales process out-close their peers who don’t, according to a survey by Social Centered Selling and A Sales Guy. Follow prospects on their business and professional social media pages. “Like” and comment on what they do. Contribute to their feeds by sharing relevant, helpful information (not pitches).
- Be relevant. Know a cool survey, interesting article, thought-provoking eBook? Email a link and let prospects know you’re thinking of them and how that information can help them. More than 90% of customers said they choose a product or service because the company or salesperson provided relevant content throughout the sales journey, a DemandGen survey
- Be likable. The Similarity Principle holds true for sales: People buy from people who they like and are similar to themselves. In prospecting, find common interests and use them to continue to connect.
- Be present. When the time comes, prospects may suggest that you just send the proposal or agreement. Don’t. To stay connected and finish the sale, maintain personal contact. Visit. Call. Skype.
“It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you,” says Patricia Fripp, a sales expert, coach and author.
Closing the sale is just the first step in closing the next sale. It’s important for salespeople to stay connected after the sale.
A few ways:
- Service customers. Whether customers need installation, technical or emotional support, giving some sort of customer service will create that first post-sale connection. Either give it directly or hand them off to the pros who can better help.
- Refer them. Ask new customers if you can recommend them to other businesses or individuals who might need their services if the need arises. Then make a point actually to do it.
- Keep your request for feedback simple – no more than five questions in an easy format. When they respond, let them know how you’ll use the feedback.
- Schedule it. When you close, create calendar reminders to send email, call, visit and/or do some social media networking at regular intervals.
“The modern sales professional doubles as an information concierge – providing the right information to the right person at the right time in the right channel,” says Jill Rowley, Chief Growth Officer at Sales for Life.
GETTING AT THE FINANCIALS
One of the most difficult conversations to have during the sales process is the financial one. It can stop or delay a closing or create a contentious one. Talking money will almost never make a closing easier.
Fortunately, there are some tactics the best closers use to handle the financials.
3 principles behind talking money
- The cost of the problem. If you can’t establish the cost of a problem, you don’t have a problem … and customers won’t close on a non-problem. So the most important financial conversation salespeople must have is connecting the agreed-upon problem to the fact that it’s costing them a lot of money. You may run into some reluctance from prospects to share financial data. In those cases, use as much benchmarked data as possible to show the numbers.
- The numbers you establish with your customers don’t have to be exact, but they do have to be credible. Costs and returns on investments have many variables and make it difficult for a salesperson to put an exact number on financial costs. Customers will usually accept estimates, but if you hand them anything that’s too good to be true, you’ll lose credibility you need to close the sale.
- Customers need to understand and have confidence in the method salespeople use to get to any numbers they use. Take the time to explain the basis of your numbers and regularly ask them for feedback.
Make the numbers palatable
Talking money is often the most awkward part of getting to a closing. Many people are as uncomfortable with talking about money as they are about discussing sex, politics and religion – the conversations we’re told to politely avoid early in our careers.
But to close a sale, money is a necessary conversation. Here are tips on how to make it comfortable and concise:
- Set the tone. Don’t avoid or try to hide pricing from customers. Pricing is something prospective customers need to know to make decisions that are best for them. Explain your pricing and value early, so there are no surprises at closing.
- Set the time. Pricing is an important topic at two specific times in the sales process: the beginning when prospects need to figure out if you’re in their ballpark, and near the end, when they need to weigh the cost and benefits of closing the sale. So salespeople want to have the financial information ready early … and adjust, if necessary, toward the end.
- Keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm prospects with too much on pricing. Keep pricing pages (online, in email or on paper) uncluttered. Even if your pricing is complex, use a bulleted tip sheet as a starting point.
- Connect the dots. Pricing can’t be just about money. Salespeople will close more often when they connect dollars to value. When you’re value-added selling, align numbers with the value of the product or service they’ll get.
Get the numbers you need to close
Customers won’t tell you how much they want to spend, especially if you ask them questions solely aimed at uncovering that amount.
To move toward closing, salespeople want to help prospects determine the amount it would take to eliminate a problem or gain an opportunity. You need to avoid questions like these:
- How big is your budget?
- What would it be worth to solve this?
- How much is this costing you?
Instead, figure out the answers to these questions to get you the financial information you need without putting customers on the spot:
- What is the absence of your product or service costing the customer?
- What return (net financial impact) can the customer reasonably expect from the solution?
- How much should the customer invest to achieve the desired results?
When you know the answers and then help customers realize them too, the price of your offering becomes a simple fact that can easily be evaluated.
TESTING A TRIAL CLOSING
A trial close is a test to see how near the prospect is to buying. You can try it any time prior to the close – and might get you to an actual closing sooner (or recognize that a sale isn’t worth pursuing further).
In a trial closing, salespeople can find out what prospects think and feel – and how to adjust your presentation accordingly.
Uncover objections early
Trial closes often work because salespeople can uncover objections that prospects might not bring up during a presentation, but would just before a closing. You can get at them with questions that probe prospects’ opinions. Try these:
- What is most important to you about our product?
- When would our service be of greatest use to you?
- What do you think of that?
- How would this affect your …?
- Do you think that would give you the …?
These questions tend to flesh out prospects’ thoughts and feelings and give salespeople a read on how much they want or need the product or service.
Ask the trial question
When there’s a positive reaction to the trial questions, salespeople want to follow up with a trial closing question such as:
- Would you prefer the … or …?
- What’s the better day for delivery, Monday or Tuesday?
- What terms interest you the most?
SIGNS YOUR PROSPECTS ARE READY
TO CLOSE – AND HOW TO REACT
Prospects sometimes give signals that they’re ready and willing to close before they actually say, “Let’s do this.” When they start giving the signals, salespeople want to avoid becoming aggressive. Instead, let prospects ask what they need to ask and respond with more detail.
What they’ll do
Look for prospects to:
- change their attitudes. They might start warming up with a more congenial tone.
- lean forward. Leaning in shows a spike in interest.
- change their tone of voice. If their voices go up or down, it can mean they’re getting excited or concerned.
- change their expressions. When their eyes light up, their minds often are, too, as they recognize the positive possibilities.
- call you. Prospecting often entails a series of calls from the salesperson. When prospects move on to making calls, they’re acting like customers.
What they’ll say
Prospects will also say things that signal they’re just about ready to close.
Listen for them to:
- ask more questions about the product. Now they want to see how the solution fits into their current situation.
- switch from “if” to “when” as they ask more of those questions. They want to start planning for what happens after the sale is complete.
- mention a deadline that they need to meet. That means they’re figuring how buying your product or service fits into that major upcoming event.
- ask specific pricing questions once they understand the value. Examples:
- Do you offer financing?
- What’s the best price you can give me?
- Are there any discounts available?
- ask specific delivery questions such as:
- How long would it take to implement after we sign?
- Would it be possible to get delivery by June 1?
- What are the delivery options?
- ask questions that would minimize their risk on the investment. Examples:
- If I decide this isn’t for us, what happens?
- Do you have a satisfaction guaranteed policy?
- How long is the warranty?
- make possessive statements, indicating how they would use the product or service specifically. For instance:
- Seems like this will fit in well with our current system.
- Joe would be the point person for this process, and I can see him being interested.
- I think we’d get about five employees to try it first.
- It would come in handy when….
- ask “next step” questions, such as:
- If I’m interested, what happens next?
- Where do we go from here?
- Can you meet with my management team, too?
Remember: When customers signal they’re near ready to close, avoid hard selling techniques. That can push them the opposite way.
SIGNS YOUR PROSPECTS ARE BALKING
– AND HOW TO REACT
Even the best-qualified prospects balk sometimes. They might seem interested, but in reality, aren’t as serious about closing as you are.
It’s important to understand why prospects balk and recognize when they’re doing it so you can either double-down your efforts or walk away before wasting their time and yours.
Why they balk
Here are some of the most common reasons prospects delay a decision to close:
- They don’t see the difference. Prospects won’t pick one salesperson, product or service over another if they don’t see why one is better at doing something for them. Salespeople need to make it a priority to set themselves and their products apart from the competition.
- The timing is off. Prospects balk when the sale doesn’t fit into their schedule. A change in product or service may not be needed now, or they don’t have the time to go through the process of buying. Every industry has better times for prospecting and closing.
- They don’t see the benefits. Prospects balk when salespeople don’t perfectly align their needs with the benefits of the products or services.
- They aren’t comfortable. Prospects will hesitate if they don’t feel comfortable with the relationship that has been established. That has to be rock solid built on trust, credibility and honesty before they’ll agree to close.
“The trust that a customer has in your company and in you strongly outweighs the techniques you use to sell,” says Mike Puglia, Chief Product Officer at Kaseya. “Establishing trust is better than any sales technique.”
How they’ll balk
Watch for these signs that prospects have lost interest or are changing their minds:
- They’re MIA. After talking with you for some time, prospects don’t answer calls, respond to email, show up for meetings or engage on social media.
- They waffle on their issues. They might suddenly say that the problem your product or service is supposed to alleviate isn’t really the root issue.
- They’re alone. Even when you’re dealing with the person who has the authority to close the deal, there are other stakeholders. If they’re never invited to meetings, the prospect is likely balking.
- They aren’t prepared for you. Prospects who aren’t prepared for your call or presentation – or is distracted with other tasks – aren’t likely to close.
- They repeat themselves. They ask the same questions because they’re already convinced the solution won’t work.
Tips to bring them back
When you identify the prospects who are worth more effort, try these tactics to re-interest them in closing the sale.
- Start from now. Don’t refer to past attempts to contact or engage with them. Treat every effort as it’s the first so they’re more inclined to start anew.
- Ask for little closes. Give them reasons to say yes several times before you try to get them to say yes to closing. Ask them to read a white paper, meet for coffee, provide information and share a relevant link in social media. Easy wins.
- Find another contact. If a prospect goes dark, try to get in with another person at the organization by calling, sending an email or connecting on LinkedIn.
- Vary your approach. We’re all creatures of habit – and often end up doing the same thing, at the same time, in the same way. Call, email, visit at different times than you’ve tried. Who knows, maybe the problem was bad timing.
GETTING A COMMITMENT
The best closers focus less on closing and more than on obtaining a commitment. Commitments change behaviors for the better: Prospects are more likely to do what they say they’re going to do when salespeople do what they say they’re going to do – a commitment on both ends.
Be ready for ‘but’
To get and make commitments that are precursory to closing:
- The closer you get to asking for commitments and obtaining the close, the prospect will have more questions, and “but” objections statements (“I like it, but …” It sounds good, but …”). “Buts” reveal genuine reasons prospects aren’t ready to close. So salespeople want to acknowledge those concerns before pressing on with the solution. The worst thing they can do is ignore or dismiss the statement.
- Either restate what you heard in a way that captures the essence of the concern or ask clarifying questions. Don’t assume you know the exact meaning of the “but.”
- Reframe the issue or deal with misconceptions.
- Get a commitment. Once you’re on the same page, you can ask for a commitment …
Use closing questions
Now’s the time to get comfortable asking closing questions. The higher your level of comfort, the less likely you’ll appear too pushy or aggressive, which makes prospects comfortable.
Commitment questions should seem like a reasonable request from customers’ perspective and not just your perspective. There shouldn’t be any anxiety – just comfortable questions that lead from one step to the next.
One of the easiest ways to be comfortable with your closing questions is to use the sensory trial close. You create closing questions that use the words who, what, where, why, how much and when, in combination with sensory words like look, think, touch, sound, feel and view. When you ask questions in this format, prospects are usually comfortable answering.
- How does that sound?
- Does this logic seem sound?
- Does that seem like a reasonable way to look at it?
- I feel like we have accomplished everything we agreed to, so how would you suggest we move forward?
- How do you feel about what we’ve discussed today?
Test the commitment
You will increase your closing ratios dramatically if you test the seriousness of prospects commitment. Here are four tips to do that:
- Stay focused on the next step to move prospects or customers forward – one action, not the entire closing.
- State that objective – perhaps reviewing specs, completing financing or engaging IT – and ask questions so prospects see it as a logical next part of the discussion.
- Listen to their responses and clarify what happens next.
Finalize the commitment
Once customers have verbally committed, you want to create clarity about what you’ll do now to further the sales process and finish the close.
Use a closing or commitment question that gets at a specific action the prospect is likely to agree to take because it makes sense considering what you’ve discussed and agreed to happen.
- I’ll have the final specs to you this afternoon. Can we meet tomorrow morning at 10 or 11 to sign and get production rolling?
- I can get the first order delivered to your door on Friday if we can arrange financing tomorrow. What terms do you want me to establish?
There’s incredible power in commitments. Most prospects who make a serious commitment will keep it. But you have to establish a hard commitment.
CLOSING THE SALE
There’s no perfect formula or phrase for closing sales. For the most part, closing is situational. Sales professionals need to ask for sale based on the relationship they’ve established, the circumstances they face and the situation they’re in.
Bottom line: Salespeople need to read the situation and ask accordingly.
25 ways to ask
While there are as many ways to close the sale as there are circumstances surrounding it, here are 25 phrases to use to ask for the close:
- It seems like this is a good fit for your company. Would do you think?
- If we throw in (a specific freebie), would that convince you to sign the contract today?
- Taking all of your requirements and desires into consideration, I think these two products would work best for you. Would you like to go with X or Y?
- Why don’t you give it/us a try?
- Is there any reason, if we gave you the product at this price, that you wouldn’t do business with our company?
- If we could find a way to deal with (their objection), would you sign the contract this week?
- The whole thing comes to only $X. Is that fair enough?
- Should I put that on a rush order, or do prefer our normal four-day delivery?
- Should I book the time to kick this off?
- Is it better to get this started immediately, or wait for X to happen?
- Is there anything that prevents us from moving forward?
- I can schedule two days next week to make the start. Which are best for you?
- Can we proceed?
- You had mentioned earlier that if everything looked right to you, our next step would be X. So first, does everything look right to you?
- Moving forward, will I work primarily with you as my main contact?
- Are you ready to partner with us on this?
- If you sign the contract today, I can guarantee we can (fulfill a special request the prospect asked for). How does that sound?
- Will you commit to doing business with us today?
- Ready to move forward? I can pull up the contract right now.
- You’re interested in X and Y features, right? If we get started today, you’ll be up and running by Tuesday.
- Unless you have any more questions or concerns, I think we’re ready to get started.
- We can take as long as you’d like, but I know our scheduled time is just about up. With that in mind, maybe we should move to the actual agreement.
- When should we get started on implementation?
- What delivery date would you like?
- Which (package, tier, bundle) do you want to go with?
ANALYZE THE CLOSE (OR THE FAIL)
When the hard work of one sale (or disappointment of a fail) is over, the learning just begins.
For salespeople, it’s critical to analyze closes that are won and near-closes that were lost. It helps you close the next sale.
Understand the win
Researching wins as well as losses ensures that you receive a balanced perspective so you can continue successful practices and eliminate those that lose sales. Even better, customers are more forthcoming with salespeople they have chosen to do business with. Five reasons:
- It helps them justify to themselves that they have made the right choice. By explaining to you all the reasons they chose you, they’re validating their decision-making process.
- It helps them transition from the sales process to customer service. Customers feel a sense of buyer’s remorse if there’s a drop-off as they transition into service. The relationship they developed with you – and the feedback you request – helps maintain their satisfaction.
- They are more apt to like you personally. The prospect likely “clicked” with you, which makes them forthcoming with both positive and negative feedback.
- They are more invested in the relationship. They have developed a sense of allegiance and a vested interest in your company so the feedback they give you may help them in the future
- They’re more apt to share negative information since they have already given you the business and aren’t as concerned with hurting your feelings.
Understand the fail
Closings often fail for these seven reasons. Salespeople:
- didn’t have all the skills and traits required to win. They need to be better researchers and leaders than ever. Winning sales requires knowledge, planning and precise execution. Successful salespeople offer greater and more meaningful guidance and anticipate their competitor’s next move.
- don’t understand their prospects’ businesses. They don’t do their homework. They don’t think that everything is important.
- don’t have a plan to win. Almost half of salespeople miss closing goals because they’re too subjective about their forecasting, the CSO Insights Sales Operation Optimization Study Many salespeople just don’t set the right objectives and goals.
- don’t know who their competition is. They get outsold because they don’t know anything about the salespeople who are competing for the same business. You need to know their names, how they sell, whether they’re new at the job or highly experienced or what the person is likely to do to win the business.
- are afraid to get out of their comfort zone and assume a position of strength. Getting out of that zone allows you to be more persistent, to negotiate for access to the real buyer and to be more persuasive. Few comfortable places exist anymore for salespeople who don’t have the courage to figure out what they need to win and take appropriate action.
- depend on the capabilities of their product or service to close the deal. Not many companies have a unique enough product or service to simply blow the competition away. Winners differentiate their product or service in ways that convey value to customers.
Get the feedback
Get post-closing (or post-fail) feedback in the format that each customer is most comfortable giving it – email, online, written survey, phone call, in-person. Include these or similar questions:
- In the end, what were the three most important decision-making criteria you used to differentiate competitors?
- How did my firm compare to the competition in each criterion – much better, slightly better, equal, slightly worse, much worse?
- How was the final decision made?
- Who were the key decision makers during the sales process?
- When you look back on our company’s products and services, what are our strong points and where could we improve?
- When you look back on the sales process, proposal and sales presentation, what were my/our strong points?
- When you look back on the sales process, proposal and sales presentation, where could I/we improve?
- Compared with the other firms’ presentations/presentation teams, what did our team / I do well?
- Did the other competitors present anything that’s not currently offered by our company?
- When do you think you will review this decision/your product and service needs again?
THE 8 UNIVERSAL TRUTHS TO CLOSING
Regardless of industry, product, economic conditions or times, some things hold true.
Here are eight universal closing truths that work in any sales environment
Prospects listen to what’s important to them
Prospects pay attention to someone who they believe has something important to say to them. Today’s prospects look to buy more than a product or service. Being viewed as an industry expert or advisor gives salespeople greater receptivity, wider and freer access to decision-makers at higher levels, and a stronger series of sales opportunities.
Prospects buy when they’re ready to buy,
not when you need to sell
It’s important to be in front of qualified prospects when they’re ready to buy, not when you need to make a sale. When and whether prospects will decide to buy anything has more to do with their schedule than the schedule of any salesperson. The key is to have a sufficient supply of qualified prospects and then be the one who’s there when they’re ready to make a buying decision.
Closing is more about listening than telling
“Listen” prospects into buying instead of talking your way out of the sale. Closing isn’t only about telling, presenting and verbalizing. It’s about asking questions, recording the answers, accurately listening, and allowing prospects to tell you exactly what, how, when, why and under what conditions they’ll buy.
All prices are too high, but you can’t put a price on value
To prospects, any price is too high until they understand the value of the product or service. To deliver value, salespeople have first to understand what the prospect perceives as value. If salespeople prematurely quote price, they’ll never have a chance to create value and close the sale.
Needs and benefits must be aligned
Presentations need to be tailored to prospects’ needs and wants, not the salesperson’s. This requires the capacity to understand how a prospect wants to see your product or service and present it in exactly that way. It requires total mastery of product knowledge, extensive pre-call planning and questioning, and a presentation that can be tailored, customized, altered, modified or totally overhauled instantly to reflect prospect needs.
Reputation makes all the difference
The jump from character (what you are) to reputation (what people think you are) is much smaller than some salespeople believe. Good salespeople know that in tight, crowded markets, their solid reputation is a powerful tool. It will help them prospect, market and close better. A poor reputation can be devastating.
Salespeople must believe first
Customers will never believe in the value of your product or service any more strongly than you do. Closing is all about believing that your product or service is a true value that delivers the promised result. It’s critical for salespeople to believe that the product or service they sell is exactly what they say it is and will perform exactly the way they say it will.
Trust, sales and relationships are built on truths
Salespeople can’t make claims they can’t back up with facts. Prospects expect salespeople to make claims for their product or service. They are more impressed when salespeople provide testimonials and research to corroborate their claims. Top closers work hard to get other sources to verify that the things they say about their products or services are true.