To close the sale, you don’t need special skills like sales reps did in the past. In the last century (and yes, it feels strange writing that), salespeople trained specifically on how to close the sale because the prevailing attitude was that the sales rep held all the assets, the information, and the upper hand. The mindset managers pushed on their sales teams was memorialized with the acronym, ABC: Always Be Closing. In fact, some companies had entire sales manuals dedicated to effective sales closing techniques. And sales training programs focused almost entirely on closing the deal using a variety of sales closing tactics.
In today’s complex sales environment, salespeople know a lot more about the psychology of selling and they know a lot more about the buyer’s mindset. On the other hand, buyers have a lot more information at their disposal and they have a lot more options available to them. The sales process is a complex dance, consisting of many stages, and the total sales environment consists of many parts working together. The sales close, while vital, is but a small part of that environment and the culmination of a logical sales process. Closing the deal is simply a matter of landing the airplane. You are advancing the sales process to the next logical step, asking if your buyer is in or out. In fact, the easiest way to close the sale is to use the Nike close: Just Do It!
Sometimes to Close the Sale, You Have to Loop Back to an Earlier Stage in the Sales Process
There will be times when you think a prospect is ready to buy only to discover you have another round of objections to address or some additional negotiating to do. For example, about a year ago we bought a copier. Very early in the sales process, the salesperson asked me, “What’s your budget?” I just looked at him. “My budget for this copier, since we really don’t need a copier, is half your best offer.” He started laughing. I said, “No, seriously. Maybe we can trade this copier out for some sales training. Listen, that is a horrible question. Nobody is ever going to give you their true budget.” For a deeper discussion on objections concerning budget, price, cost, and value, see the post here.
We eventually bought the copier. But near the end of the deal, he said, “So, how do you feel about the copier? That’s not a great closing question. He didn’t really care, nor did he want to know how I felt about the copier. Remember, sometimes the best approach is the simplest. If you want to know the answer to the question, then ask the question.
He eventually said, “Is the price good?”
I said, “The price is great.”
He said, “Okay, let’s sign here.”
I said, “Hold on a minute. We had a sales conversation about the price. But we haven’t talked about terms.”
>When you’re ready to close the deal, you might find yourself having to go back into the mechanics of your sales process and into formal negotiations. Or you may have to jump back and use the processes here to identify and resolve objections. You may even find that you have to return to the dialogue stage and ask probing questions to identify additional pain points. Don’t panic. Simply return to that point in the sales process, use the tools at your disposal to isolate and resolve the issues, and move forward.
Download the playbook on resolving client objections here and quickly move your process to the close.
The Alternate Choice Close
Now, instead of going for the close directly and asking if the potential customer is ready to begin, you can use one of the more popular and well known closing techniques known as the Alternate Choice Close. This is where you ask a prospect a question about some aspect of the product or service to gauge their interest level. “Would you like option A or option B?” “Do you want to go with the three-year contract or the seven-year contract?” “Do you want this section here or that section there?” These types of sales closes are typically used as trial closes to gauge the interest level of the prospect. However, you can sometimes close the sale using this method in place of the Direct Close
But as you can see, there’s really no skill at play here. These aren’t special closing questions. At this point in the sales process, you’re simply determining if the prospect is ready to buy.
The Minor Point Close – An Example
Here’s another one of the more effective sales closing techniques. Though the Direct Close is always preferred, you could also go with what is called the Minor Point Close, depending on the situation. When embarking on this closing technique, you are asking the prospect or client to decide about a minor feature of the product or service. Their decision will provide you with insight into their mindset allowing you to close the sale.
When I first bought club seats at the Cleveland Cavaliers, a guy named Bob was my sales rep. These seats were going for about $20,000 per year. You got four club seats, all food included, and you got to watch the Cavs and LeBron… when LeBron was there.
During his sales call, Bob asked: “So what are your thoughts on moving forward?” I said, “Well, I gotta think about this.”
Then he used a Minor-Pointed technique. He asked,” Well, do you want the names on the seats in your name or your company’s name?”
I looked at Bob. “What do you mean?”
“Well, there’s a little placard on these seats in the club level, and they could either have your personal name or your company’s name.”
“Well, I’d want my company’s name.”
That response gave Bob the information he needed. With that Minor Point Close he was able to effectively gauge my interest and control the direction of the sales call from there.
You Can’t Rely on Closing Techniques at the End of the Sale Cycle to Close the Deal
There’s an encyclopedia of sales closing techniques that sales reps used in the past. They had a variety of memorable names like The Puppy Dog close, the Assumptive close, the Hot Button close, the Summary close, the Calculator close, and the Ownership close. We’ll circle back to this topic and look at two other common closes, the Opportunity close, also known as the Now or Never close, and the Balancing close, aka the Ben Franklin close because we still use these in various forms.
I bring these up because using these techniques at the end of the sales process don’t work to your salespeople’s benefit in today’s sales environment. The information these closing techniques gives them should be in their hands well before they attempt to close the sale. As I said, these techniques may have worked in a previous sales environment where the sales reps controlled all the information, and the sales process was structured differently. But in today’s environment, the potential customer has more information than your sales reps. By the time your buyers have called your salespeople, they have already gone a long way to making a decision .
In another post, I outlined that selling is getting a series of yeses. So, at every stage of your sales process, your people are gathering information, performing a trial close, and getting the potential customer’s buy-in to move forward to the next stage. If they are trying to do all of this heavy lifting at the end of the sales cycle, they’re going to fail and miss a lot of opportunities.
The dialogue and prescription stages of your sales process will give your salespeople the information they will need to work with the buyer and enable them to close the sale. All they have to do is work their sales process, and the close will naturally follow.
Again, as Nike says, “Just Do It!”
To get a better handle on making your case and presenting your ideas , download the playbook, Persuasive Sales Presentations here and present your ideas with power and passion!