Move to the prospect’s side of the table, identify the problem, get involved in the solution, and your closing percentage will increase. Zig Ziglar, Secrets of Closing the Sale (1984)
Today, closing the sale is still a fundamental key to success for the sales professional, even though the digital world has transformed the landscape of the sales profession. Closing is in effect asking for the sale using the art of persuasion, using effective communication to accelerate the sale.
Salespeople have often been stereotyped as overly aggressive with glib techniques, making some buyers wary. In today’s sales environment, buyers have become more and more knowledgeable, educated, informed and empowered; and are able to research and compare sellers, products and services. In many cases, a buyer can find a competing vendor with relative ease.
To be successful against competitors, sales professionals must be customer focused, treating a prospect with respect; meet the needs of customers and provide solutions to their problems; and in turn, build trust and credibility with a potential customer to create a relationship.
A number of closing techniques can be effective in identifying the needs of a customer, communicating that the product or service is the right solution and thereby serve as an integral step to accelerate the sale.
1. A Soft Approach on Demonstration Close
In the early stages of the sales presentation it may be useful to describe the coming approach, or how the need and its solution will be demonstrated. This can confirm a mutual understanding of the process for moving forward, as well as confirm the prospect’s decision-making authority without being overtly pushy.
It can be framed to gain credibility, such as we have provided this solution to some of the most prominent firms in this industry sector that have been quite pleased with the results and savings; and after the presentation, you will know if it would also be an effective one in your business.
An alternative may be, if the presentation demonstrates that the solution effectively addresses your need more cost effectively, then you would certainly want to implement it, is that right?
2. Close by Providing Alternates or Options
Some buyers may prefer choices before committing to a sale, or may not be completely comfortable with the initial proposed solution. An effective approach in this situation is to frame alternate choices or options, which may clarify the buyer’s need and allows the buyer to make the choice. An example would be which of these alternate solutions would be most effective in solving your need? It might be an option of different models, product configurations, delivery dates, financing or almost anything else. The point is to provide a choice among options, not a choice between the something proposed and nothing.
3. Close by Reaction to Negotiation
Often a potential buyer might make a request or ask for a concession, which is a negotiation that indicates interest and may also serve to clarify the buyer’s needs. It may present an effective opportunity for the sales person to meet the need, get a closing commitment and accelerate the sale. This technique is a reaction and a response to a buyer’s statement directed and phrased in a way for the buyer to make a commitment. As an example – a buyer asking when or how quickly a product could be delivered indicates the buyer’s interest and need. An effective response might be that if the contract is signed now, delivery can be tomorrow; or alternatively if delivery can be made tomorrow, will you complete the purchase today? This technique may also be helpful in shutting off requests for additional concessions.
4. Close by Asking for Objections
A salesperson may have completed the presentation and believe the buyer understands the product or service and how it solves their need, or the buyer may still seem hesitant or unconvinced. An effective technique in this situation is to solicit the sale by directly asking are there any reasons not to proceed? The buyer can then voice any concerns or objections without an absolute rejection of the sale, and the salesperson, now understanding the concerns, can then address them head on with a greater likelihood of completing the sale.
5. Close Directly
If a salesperson is confident that the offer is the right solution for a buyer’s particular need at the right price and the presentation has fully educated the buyer, the transaction should close naturally. This may be an appropriate situation to close directly by asking a straightforward question of the buyer, are you ready to sign the order or contract now?
This approach must be used carefully because if the buyer is not ready or convinced, there is a danger of appearing over-confident by being so direct unless the salesperson has a close relationship with the buyer in which such directness is appropriate.
In the sales industry, closing is the last step before consummating the sale and has always involved the art of persuasion. In today’s environment, it is more. Effective closing techniques, such as those described above, help the sales professional understand the buyer and the buyer’s specific needs in order to effectively communicate the benefit of the solution, put the buyer at ease and accelerate the deal to close.