When we conduct our sales training, a fast rule we follow is that there are no special skills in closing. In a different article, the Myth of the Perfect Closing Script, I conveyed my dismay at salespeople’s adherence to those relics. Those sales closing tips are a part of a different era, a different environment, and different customer culture.
Today, the reason we say there is no special skill in closing is because we believe that closing has more to do with the sales reps confidence, not his or her ability to follow a script.
In all the assessments that we have done prior to conducting our training sessions, I’ve seen that the ability to close is related to how an individual deals with scarcity and abundance. For instance, if the salesperson is operating out of a scarcity mentality, and they don’t have much in their sales pipeline, they’ll be more likely to accept a “maybe” from the prospect. In fact, they will be opposed to challenging the prospect, vetting out objections, or clarifying objections. And they’ll definitely avoid using any language that will put the relationship at risk. In short, they can’t afford to lose any opportunities.
On the other hand, when we find sales reps endowed with an abundance mentality, we see their pipeline might be three or five times their goal. These sales reps are more open to pushing a prospect, trying new techniques, and challenge their objections. They don’t lose sight of their people skills, but they are a little more assertive when dealing with buyers.
Sales is a Series of Yeses
Upon reviewing sales closing tips for today’s complex selling environment, here’s something we’ve observed. The best, most successful sales reps we’ve seen in action don’t treat the sales close as something that’s tacked on at the end of the sales process as an afterthought. Instead, they treat the sales close as something that happens throughout the sales process. In fact, for them, selling is a series of positive commitments to a series of questions:
- “Can we meet?” “Yes. I’ll meet with you.”
- “Can I ask you a few questions?” “Yes, you can.”
- “May I present a possible solution?” “Yes, you can present something to me.”
- “Have I resolved all of your concerns and objections?” “Yes, you have.”
- “Are you ready to move forward?” “Yes, I’ll buy from you.”
You’ve got about 5 necessary yeses when shepherding your prospect through your sales process.
When we look at the sales process this way, we see there are 5 critical junctions where we must overcome some type of resistance, or “objections”. If you understanding where you are in the sales process and understand the type of objections you are facing, you will close better.
5 Sales Closing Tips That Will Help You Crush Your Competition
1. Know What a Buying Signal Is
The first in our sales closing tips is being able to identify a buying signal. Looking back at the collected sales wisdom of the past, we have ample descriptions of buying signals from the experts. Your prospect is sitting across from you: they are leaning forward, they look attentive, maybe they are rubbing their chin, perhaps they are asking clarifying questions… all of these are buying signals.
However, an alternate narrative might be they are confused, and they are trying to understand what you are saying. Or perhaps they have an itchy chin, or they need a shave.
Here’s the truth – you don’t know which explanation adequately reflects what you are seeing.
So, what’s a buying signal? Here’s the definition of a buying signal:
2. Know What a Warning Signal Is
Now, let’s flip the coin over and look at the other side of the previous closing tip. What’s a warning signal?
Again, let’s go back to those sales books and psychology books that made attempts at codifying body language for a description. Your prospect is sitting across from you with their arms crossed. They aren’t paying attention. Perhaps even looking at their phone. Of course, an alternate description would be that their arms are crossed becausey they are cold and trying to keep warm. Maybe they’re looking at their phone because they’ve got another meeting scheduled and your session is bumping into that time. Or perhaps they just got a call from home.
As before, we don’t know which description explains your observations. So again, we are left with defining a warning signal.
The question becomes, for both buying and warning signals: if you can see what they buyer does and you can hear what the buyer says, how do you know if they are interested or disinterested? Here’s the answer: you test them by asking a trial close question. It might be something like, “how does this sound so far?”
This is like sticking a toothpick in a cupcake to determine if it’s done. If the toothpick comes out clean, then you are ready to move to the next phase. But if the toothpick comes out with stuff hanging on, then you have some more cooking to do.
Know How to Identify an Objection
The third item in our list of sales closing tips is to recognize an objection.
We have different categories of objections. For example, in my best-selling book, Selling is an Away Game, we talk more about your financial marketplace-driven objections. These objections are wrapped in cost, value, price, or budget.
Typically, what we think of as a sales objection comes after you’ve proposed or prescribed your solution to your prospect. And objections, by their nature, reflect a certain level of interest in your solution.
4. Distinguish Your Inherent Objections
In a previous article, I mentioned an inherent objection. These are objections that occur because you didn’t do something well in the sales process.
I was recently with a group, the Baltimore Ravens, and we were discussing objections. Someone in the session said, “What if your prospect just doesn’t want to meet with you? Is that an objection?”
Well, this is what we call a put-off because the “objection” is more about you and your process and not about any solution you’ve offered.
Inherent objections mostly happen early in the sales process. They are often the result from your prospect being preoccupied, busy, distracted, or they simply don’t want to meet with you. You’ll find a level of disinterest or disengagement with your prospect. These all occur without you offering any type of solution to their problem.
5. Have the Confidence to Ask for the Business
The last of our sales closing tips is to close the business once you’ve pitched a real solution. Following the sales process will get you most of the way to the close. However, you still must ask for the business.
As we’ve stated before, the close is not something that is forced at the end. When you walk your prospect through your sales process, the close flows naturally. But it won’t happen on its own. You still must ask the question. And so many sales reps miss this. They either try to force the close or they become shy as the end approaches, as if they’re afraid that they’ll scare off the prospect by asking for the business.
Most of the time, the simplest close is the best. I’ve seen sales reps try to over-complicate the close by cloaking it in some “mystical language” that only sales people can understand. Don’t get fancy. Just ask if they are ready to proceed.
Integrate These Sales Closing Tips Into Your Sales Process
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you have followed your process and addressed their concerns, then the close is merely the doorway to the next phase in the customer lifecycle. Simply ask them if they are ready to move forward. If the buyer says yes, then move forward. And if the buyer says no, then treat the response as an objection and find a way to overcome it. Either way, you’re moving forward. So stop hedging and start moving!