Salesnet.com- How to Close the Sale
How to Close the Sale
article is a “how to” for you to pass along to your sales reps. With
today’s competitive business climate you’ll help your team by passing
along ideas on how to close the sale. This may help them convert the
tough ones, the stalled ones, and even the ones they thought they’d
Closing can be an anxious time for sales reps, it's do
or die time, yes or no. There is a lot of pressure on you to say the
right thing, in the right way, at the right time. No doubt, by the time
you get to the close you have invested a great deal of time and energy
into the sale. You care about the outcome of the sale and have a deep
interest in getting to “yes”. Are there ways to increase your odds,
close more sales, and feel more confident? Absolutely! The following
steps will help you manage the “close” like every other area of the
sales process – with ease and strategy.
Step 1. Readiness Assessment.
one is exactly what it sounds like, you must assess how “ready” the
client is to buy before you ask him or her to buy from you. Timing is
essential in the close. If you sell too soon you risk appearing
inexperienced, overanxious, and pushy. If you sell too late, or don’t
ask for the business at all, the client will read this as a lack of
confidence and you‘ll create doubt within your buyer. I utilize one
master question which guides Step 1 and all subsequent steps of the
close. The customer is always thinking: “Based on all the options
available to me, why should I do business with you?” Your ability to
uncover the answer to this question during the sales process will often
make or break your close. Ideally, the customer has decided that you
are the best option for them and they’re ready to buy from you.
Assumptions will kill the sale here and you must deal from accurate
information. Your best strategy is to flush out all the answers by
asking yourself a series of questions such as:
- What are the customer's objectives for making this purchase?
- What kind of business result is the customer trying to create?
- How well do my products and services meet these objectives?
- Have I clearly articulated the connection between the client's objectives and my products and services?
- What indicators is the client sending me about their readiness?
- How accepting have they been to my ideas?
- What's their sense of urgency in getting their problem solved or desire satisfied?
- Is there anything that the client has asked for that I have not delivered?
you have a clear response to each of these questions than you have a
good handle on the customer’s objectives, decision making criteria
timeline, and readiness. If not, go back and ask a few clarifying
questions before you attempt to close the sale. If you feel that they
are “ready” continue to Step 2.
Step 2. Final Summary:
it is time for you to transition from selling to the close with a final
summary. The objective here is to clearly and concisely state your
understanding of the client’s situation and briefly review the fit
between your products and services. The goal is to test the waters, you
are making sure that you and the client are on track together. You must
confirm that you’ve heard all of the details correctly and that the
customer understands your solution correctly. This type of final
summary gives you the ultimate opportunity to position yourself, your
company, your products and services, and makes it easy for the
prospective customer to say yes. Take a look at how this final summery
works in action. Recently I was on a sales call with a mid-size bank
proposing a sales training
project for their team of Branch Managers.
At the close of the meeting I simply stated “Okay, just to finalize for
both of us where we are…your primary objective with this business
development program is to give your Branch Managers the tools to be
better sales executives, you need to increase small business checking
accounts by 14%, and you’d like the rollout to happen in 8 small groups
of 10-12 managers each, delivered over the next 3 months.” You might
check in here with a simple “Is that right?” or just look for a nod. In
this case, I received a confirming nod and followed up with “As we
discussed, the financial investment for this project is $$$, which will
ensure each manager participates in one sales skills-based session,
participates in one learning lab, creates an action individual, and
receives a 90-day coaching to sales success plan.” That’s it, the final
summary has been delivered and the decision is on the table. This is
where you must study the prospective client’s nonverbal clues of facial
expressions and body language. Do they appear accepting and interested,
seem pleased and in agreement? Or does the look convey a message of
surprise, confusion, or even distaste? Either way, it’s time to go for
the close, you’ve already put it on the table.
3. Invite Confirmation:
transition from the final statement to the asking for the business is
to invite a confirmation of agreement. In the bank situation I very
simply asked, “Does that cover everything?” to which the buyer
responded “yes.” If the customer is “with” you, they will quickly
confirm with a yes and you will continue on to Step 4. If they still
have some unanswered questions, this is the spot where you’ll see
objections surface. Don’t charge ahead and don’t pretend you don’t
notice the hesitation. Instead, be bold and deal with the objection
directly as it comes up. Always stick with a solid objection handling
process. In my experience the best objection handling process is
collaborative in nature. The one I teach is a cycle which requires the
sales rep to: Listen, Show Empathy (not sympathy), Ask Questions,
Summarize, Answer, Check In, and Close Again. This process allows you
to sell through involvement and shift from traditional objection
handling to a more sophisticated process of problem solving. Rapport is
maintained as the issues are resolved. A perfect set up to transition
back to the close.
4. Ask for the Business:
are many kinds of tricky closes, with lots of fancy names, but in sales
today you need to rise above the tactics and use a strong sales
strategy to close the sale. My advice, be direct and expect the sale.
So what are the actual words that you can use to close the sale? There
are two approaches which work quite well, one is question-driven and
one is statement-driven, both are strong and create great results. A
question-driven example looks like this, when it’s time to ask for the
business you would simply ask “How does this look to you?” or “What’s
your timeframe in getting this started?” or “Do you we have a ‘go’?” or
“What’s your process for getting this going?” A statement-driven
example will bridge the close with a strong statement such as: “Let’s
take a look at next steps” or “So based on everything we’ve discussed,
we’re looking at a November 1 kick-off, let’s check our calendars
together right now”. The easiest way to ask for the business is to do
just that, ask. Whether you are more comfortable with a question or a
statement, make sure you ask! Back to the bank example for a moment, I
used the question-driven close and directly asked “Shall we move
forward with this?” and they nicely responded with a question
“Absolutely, when can we schedule this?” Test a few of the suggestions
I just mentioned with your customers and you decide which feels most
natural to you and creates the best sales results.
Closing the sale is often the most dreaded part of the sale
because it's where you either get paid or not. You've got time, energy,
and emotion invested in the sale. You're strength will come from
postponing your internal “noise” and focus on giving the prospective
customer what he or she needs to say yes. The more sales that you
expect to close, the more sales you will close. Consciously and
deliberately spend time in each of the steps of this closing process –
Readiness Assessment, Final Summary, Invite Confirmation, and Ask for
the Business. Don't rush the prospective client, but don't linger
either. Let the clues from your prospective customer guide the pace of
the close while you focus on managing the steps of the close.
Ultimately, this is decision time. Use the process to help your
prospective clients see that based on all the options available to
them, you are the best!
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