To close sales at a higher rate, a salesperson needs to get the customer or prospect to take action. This requires the prospect to give a series of yes commitments and then agreeing to sign any necessary paperwork. Some salespeople find closing a sale to be stressful, however with the right skill, mindset, and techniques it does not need to be.
TO CLOSE SALES, YOU NEED TO DEFINE THE NEED
Defining the need
Closing a sale with a prospect is a lot easier when you both take a learning pathway to understand the exact problem, situation, and expectations. The more information you can uncover, the better. The prospect has to come to see your solution as the fix to their problem and then take the steps to get the benefits they envision. On an emotional level if you are able to make them feel that they need it, you are closing the gap between where they are now and the future. Your role as salesperson is to get acceptance that what you are proposing has more value than the cost of other alternatives.
To really close a sale, it is important to use open questions during need definition so you can figure out the real answers. The questions that a prospect can answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ should be avoided in this stage. With these kind of questions there is a danger of leading a prospect in the wrong direction. Therefore, you will not have correct information. Good question words in this phase are the likes of ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘how often’, ‘who’, ‘how’. What is also useful is to know the current situation of the prospect when it comes similar products that he already possesses.
This is backed up by research into “need analysis approach” which suggests that early in the sales process you should focus on asking open questions and listening.
There are 5 key issues to consider when preparing for the final sales negotiation:
1. What outcome does the prospect want to achieve?
2. What information will influence the outcome of the negotiation?
3. What concessions have I got to trade with. What is the cost and value of each concession?
4. What is my plan of action?
5. What tasks will you and other members of your team be responsible for in the negotiation?
Closing the sale
You can do everything right in the sales process and can still fail if you do not have the skill, courage, or knowhow on how to close a deal. Closing a sale is one of the most feared moves especially for a new salesperson when dealing with a prospect. One of the reasons is that we tend to have a fear of rejection. You must understand is that hearing ’no’ is part of selling’. However, what needs to be understood is that prospects are smart enough to know that you are trying to sell, and closing is part of the process. It is even considered strange if you do not try to secure a deal with some sort of closing technique.
Any sale can fail if you do not match the prospects problem or situation with a credible solution where the future state is a better one than where they are now. It is rare for a prospect to make the suggestion to finish a deal. It is worth noting that closing is a continuous process throughout the sale, and you must be prepared to try and close a deal more than once, most preferably several times. The first closing attempt activates both you and the prospect to negotiation mode. If the prospect has agreed that a need really exists, their guard is lower, and this is a perfect time to secure strong commitments towards buying your solution.
Naturally prospects have a high sales resistance in the beginning of any sales process. However, when doing your job well by defining needs and building trust, when you move over towards the closing phase the resistance is lower. That being said, closing can be done at any point during the sales process. However, you should always observe when the interest of the prospect is high. This changes during the sales process. If a prospect hears about a key benefit to them, their intention to purchase rises. In these moments you are likely to spot buying signals. Early in the sales process it is essential to activate the customer’s purchase senses with soft closing efforts such as budget, need, authority to act and timing.
To really close a sale requires you to build trust, credibility, provide proof and that your solution is believable. Hit these markers and the price becomes more and more irrelevant. Therefore, in certain sales situations it is possible to close a deal without agreeing on the price yet. An example of moving to closing after proving the need:
You: As you mentioned before, you are cleaning your house five times a week since
you do not like living in a dusty house and there is an allergy in your family. Now that you
have seen what this cleaning device can do for you, it can remove all dust and allergies, do you agree?
Prospect: I agree.
You: Ok, here is what I suggest we do… (moving on to one of the closing techniques)
The good news is that closing a sale is natural if a prospect is convinced that it solves their problem, and they have a vision of what they will gain from buying it. Your role is to guide the prospect on a learning pathway where all options are discussed and a clear path to purchase has been outlined. If there is an objection, the prospect will tell you after you try to close the deal. Objections are an opportunity to move the sale forward if handled correctly.
Techniques To Close A Sale.
1. Give the prospect two options – each directed towards a deal.
This technique provides a smart way towards closing. You give the prospect two options
to move forward. For example, you could ask if a prospect wants to pay in instalments
or all in once. Whichever option the prospect chooses, it move the needle towards a sale. If
this technique is used, the prospect needs to be genuinely interested in finding a solution to
make it work the best. Word of caution. You must use the two option technique sparingly to close a sale as professional buyers can feel they are being narrowed down.
2. What’s your opinion?
Ask for feedback on the prospect’s opinion at key stages of the sales cycle. This is the only way to judge when the final confirming question should be asked. You might ask,
How does this program sound?
Which of these two options do you like best?
What’s your impression so far?
How do you feel about the lease option program?
What additional information do you need in order to make a decision?
Ask an if or a then question can also help close a sale. If we can get the financing approved, then would you be interested in moving forward? Or something specific that addresses a need such as, If we can get it customized to your specifications, are you ready to move forward?
4. In order to move forward…
When a prospect shows buying signals, such asking questions, head nods, or even a forward lean, assume interest exists. You might ask,
In what ways will this resolve your issue?
Wait for a positive response, then assume the sale.
In order to move forward, we need to…
Then present next steps. You might also add a direct statement such as,
I’m looking forward to working with you.
5. If we can meet your need for X…
If we can meet your need for X, then are you ready to approve the order?
Or, If we can get it for 10% less, then are you ready to move forward?
This combines the Conditional Confirmation and the “If/Then” methods together.
6. We’re running a special…
We’re running a special on that item today. We’re offering it at 15% off list price until 5:00. Let’s get you that cost savings. Then assume the sale by moving into an Alternative Choice such as,
Would you prefer the bronze or platinum package?
7. The Presentation Yes
You might ask,
Seller: Do you like the service terms?
Buyer: Sounds good.
Seller: Do you like the quality?
Buyer: I was very impressed!
Seller: You can get an approval?
Buyer: Yes, Frank and I discussed this last week.
Seller: Then let’s move forward with the agreement. Here’s how we can get started…
Then move into your next steps. This combines Ascending Yes with the Direct Confirmation.
8. The Demo Yes
This Ascending Yes works well after a demonstration. You might ask:
Seller: Did the demo clarify everything?
Buyer: Yes, thanks.
Seller: Have we met or exceeded your expectations?
Buyer: Definitely! It has what we’ve been looking for.
Seller: Are you in agreement with the proposal?
Buyer: It sounds like a good plan.
Seller: Would you like us to get started next week?
Buyer: Sure, that would work.
This combines Ascending Yes with the Direct Confirmation. If the prospect gets excited, you should move forward to close a sale.
How Do You Improve at Closing A Sale?
Words create powerful images that influence thinking. Connotation is king. The word “close” for example, means to obstruct an opening or entrance, to shut out, block, or hinder access. Also, a closed mind blocks new ideas. To “confirm” means to verify, establish the certainty of something; to strengthen, or make binding by way of a formal agreement. Which would you rather do?
Strengthen the certainty of your relationship and bind together in a formal agreement, or block access, not only for your prospect but your mind as well?
Know Your Prospect or Customer.
To close a sale requires you to clarify the value you are bringing and that the prospects issues come first. Research your prospect, the company, and the market. What does their job entail, what market challenges are there, what would their day look like. What could their pain points be? How does your solution address them? Why will they listen to your value proposition? The hardest part of selling is to get a real, genuine conversation started, for this to happen you must be credible and useful. As good sales training programs will tell you – People still buy from people.
Map Out Potential Objections.
It is very unlikely that any solution you can offer is a perfect one. Therefore, there may be a few objections that you find arise on a regular basis. You will learn what these are from interactions that you have with customers. You may also be able to pre-empt some objections by understanding where your offering is different from your competition and, therefore, what expectations customers may have. Thinking through the risks inherent in a purchase may also help in understanding objections that you might receive when the time comes to close a sale.
As you gain experience of selling a particular product or service, you will know what objections you frequently encounter. It is likely that there will only ever be a few. When you know what these are, the idea is to pre-handle them. By pre-handle, we mean that you introduce them, rather than waiting for your customer to raise them in response to something you have said.
Make Buying Easier
The buyer’s path to purchase is not a straight line. Therefore, winning the sale is no longer characterised by a logical progression. The journey is dynamic and iterative.
Sales interactions starts and stops and sometimes even reverses. Customer timelines become obscure, and motivation to buy changes shape. This life-sized game of Snakes and Ladders is the new reality for salespeople today.
To really close a sale requires you to truly understanding the customers path to purchase means embracing the turns in the path. We must acknowledge that success comes from a dynamic approach to selling. Many of us already see the effects of a changing customer who demands a different approach. The question is, can we be proactive in our drive to change with them. It’s not enough to observe that buying has become more complicated. We must make the moves necessary to lead the customer and help them navigate the journey. See here some free sales training tips.