There’s nothing more important in the world than to close a sale. Mastering sales closing techniques will save a lot of time and disappointment, and being a skilled salesperson means confidently implementing these techniques during sales pitches. It’s about transitioning from your pitch – during which you’ve talked about the various benefits of your product and how it answers your lead’s problems – to agree on a sale. That’s not as easy as it sounds.
We assembled this great Expert Panel asking senior execs and sales professionals where they share their best techniques and tactics when it comes to closing a sale. If you want to maximise your sales successes read this panel, learn and utilise the best practices at work!
Business line manager @Crane CO
The one technique that works best for me is to infiltrate a supporter in the other team. In general, the more you plan the better chances of obtaining a better result.
You first identify the stakeholders and your objectives.
The second part is finding out what the other party want and planning your ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement) and giveaways.
The third is to start early, choose your targets and engage with them to start negotiating the outcome.
Finally, on the day of the negotiation; the outcome should almost be decided by then, this should be just a meeting to confirm what is in the negotiation.
The key thought is, the better your preparation is the better result you’ll obtain. Never underestimate the prework.
Business & Sales Coach, Evolve Quest
I worked in business development for 17 years: 12 as an Executive Search consultant, and 5 as a Coach selling programmes in my own coaching practice. But my career in sales started when I was 6 years old, helping my grandmother sell cherries from our garden at a local market.
A gentleman came by and enquired about the price. He said our cherries looked good and the price is fine, said he will have a look around and will come back to us. 30mins late there was still no sight of him.
Innocently, I thought he must have got lost, and went to look for him. I saw him at the other end of the market about to hand over the cash to another cherry seller.
Confused, I came up to him reminding that he said he was going to come back to our stall. He laughed warmly, apologised to the lady and followed me to buy all of our stock.
It was our fastest day at the market, and I learnt about the magic of ‘Following Up’ that served me well until this day in signing up new and discerning clients. Even if the sales pitch was fantastic, people do like to look around and consider all of their options. Considering how little time and attention span we have these days, I found that the person who follows up regularly and in a caring way often wins.
Managing Director at SBR Consulting
I have had the privilege to work with over 250 businesses and the four main reasons for a lack of closing we have seen in descending order are:
- The client doesn’t see the clear value for your solution. Often a question of benefits over features.
- There is a lack of social proof your solution will work. Case studies, client testimonials and Third person validation.
- There isn’t a clearly defined closing process. Closing is a process not an event!
- Asking for the business – people often don’t close. There is a need to clarify the buying criteria from your client (in a competitive environment) to determine how to sell to them and make sure you share the reasons for your solution that match those criteria.
The answer to your particular business may vary depending on a number of factors, the complexity of your solution, the complexity of the buying process (the average number of decision makers in B2B sales is 6.8) and the way you mitigate risk. If you would like more information on this please feel free to reach out.
Managing Director at The Tech Execs
Closing should be a natural step of how your product/service solves a prospect’s problem. It should be part of the adult conversation that feels natural and safe to the prospect. With a sale being conducted correctly, my ‘close’ is usually a variation of:
“Do you think what I’ve shown you is the right solution for your business at this time?”
2- part close:
Part 1. Do you FEEL this a solution that would work for you / the business?
Part 2. What makes you say that? In what way? Why do you say that?
The tone is everything!
Regional Director at Sandler Training
“Have you seen everything from you hoped to see from me today?”
If you’ve carefully paid attention throughout their buying process you will have learnt exactly what Pains they are trying to solve, the Impact those Pains are having, the Cost of that Pain to the individual and their organisation, the Budget investment they are willing and able to make to solve those Pains, and how they will individually, and organisationally, make a Decision.
Your Presentation, by association, will have focused only on those Pains, how you solve them, within their Budget constraints, and congruent with their Decision making process.
You will also have asserted that you expect a Decision as an outcome of your presentation.
“Is what I’ve shown you enough to make a decision today?”
“Is there is anything else you feel we need to discuss?”
Let’s assume they are ‘all set’. Then ask.
“Have you seen better?” and “Are you seeing anyone else?”
If their answer is “Yes”. Discover who, what, how they are better. Know your competition so well, that it brings the very best out in you.
If their answer is “No”.
Ask “What happens next?”.
Don’t stomp all over this question with the same old ‘Tired and Testing’ closes. They work rarely. Make you look like a Sales Goon. Prospects have heard it all before. And are well prepared to bat them out of the park.
Instead, let them speak. Let them explain to you the next phase of their Buying process.
You cannot close anybody. That’s not a reflection of your ability.
Prospects must close themselves.
What happens next will tell you if you truly have a Qualified Opportunity and your next best client, or whether you were just another runner up in a ‘Beauty Parade’.
Sales Manager at BitBox Limited
Just about every salesperson goes through a process. That process, most of the time, includes various pre-qualification steps, loads of admin/demos, with a close at the end.
Prior to the close at the end, many hours have usually been invested by multiple different people throughout the sales process. Often relying on ‘hopes and dreams’ that the deal will come in. More often than not, it doesn’t.
We take a different approach and close right at the beginning. We’re not closing for the actual deal itself; we’re closing for the next step in the process (it’s a lot easier to break the sales process down into many different steps and treat it as a journey rather than trying to sprint to the end with an unqualified lead).
Right at the start of each step, we’ll close them. This involves understanding what the prospect wants to get out of this step and, assuming that’s met, we’ll both agree to discuss the next steps at the end of the meeting, assuming both sides are happy to proceed. Taking this approach very quickly exposes the time wasters and people without any authority to make this happen. You’ll get a load of ‘wishy washy’ answers and it all feels very ‘non-committal’. It’s very easy to follow gut instinct in scenarios where this happens.
Equally, what it also does is make it abundantly clear who the real prospects are and, therefore, where all your time and effort should be spent.
Disqualify as hard as you can. This will shrink your sales pipeline and uneducated sales management will find this alarming, but your close rate will be impressively high, and that’s all that really matters.
Managing Director at IJP Consultancy Ltd
Questioning techniques are an essential tool in the sales toolbox to get under the skin of what clients really want. You need to find the ‘Hot Button’ that you can press that will trigger clients into action. Always ending a sentence with a question can also be very helpful to steer the conversation towards a better chance of sales success.
One other well-chosen approach is to be a consultant first and foremost, offering advice and info and a salesperson second. People buy people before they buy things.
Also key is building a desire for a solution in the prospect’s mind before you go on to persuade them that your solution is the right one.
Your proposal needs to be technically sound, informative, and persuasive, but furthermore, it needs to tell a story with credibility using the results of the questioning in the proposal. A ‘knock your socks off’ proposal is essential so that it can also convince decision-makers outside of the room who do not know you or those who may not be aware of current problems and concerns.
When it comes to closing, this is where potential issues such as price etc. will surface but if you have intelligently controlled the sales process, you will have dealt with these long before you get to this point but if they do occur you will have the opportunity to shrewdly steer the conversation and re-establish the value to the prospect.
Read more by Ian Preston: Objection-handling techniques: the best part of the sales process
Consciousness Coach at Uspiration
Get to know what the client struggles with, since when, how painful it is that they don’t move out of that pain.
What have they tried to get themselves out so far?
Why didn’t it work?
What are the consequences of not changing that in 5 years from now on?
What about in one year or one month?
what would happen if they do find a solution?
How badly do they want the change?
Share what the steps are to get there how committed they are to doing that now?
When do they want to start?
Are they willing to invest in that change they are yearning for? What is needed for them to invest?
Then they should do it right now!