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In the sales process, closing a sale is often seen as the most important part of it. However, that's not true. A lot more goes into closing a sale than just using good closing techniques - and in some cases, what happens before that is much more important!
A lot of sales reps focus their closing techniques and strategies on getting the customer to say "yes". This is indeed a necessary step, but not if it means neglecting all other steps. Remember: selling is about making sure your client understands why they need what you're offering! Make them want to buy from you because you are the best alternative to the status quo.
This blog post will give you a closer look at the steps in the sales process that increase the likelihood that your closing techniques will be successful.
***BONUS*** At the end of the article, we present the best techniques for closing sales.
Establish credibility and trust
Trust is the foundation of all business relationships. Trust means you can rely on someone to show up and do what they say; it's not just about your client trusting in your ability, but also that their trust isn't misplaced!
This step usually involves spending time with the customer (face-to-face...a virtual meeting with all participants being on webcam also accounts for face-to-face).
The best ways to build trust and credibility are to ask questions and to listen. Simple!
People will relate to people they perceive as being similar to them. It can be because you share common interests or relationships, and also because you share a common vision. In other words, depending on the role of your prospect, you must conduct yourself as they would!
Listening is another powerful way to show that you're trustworthy.
Ask open-ended questions, and always be prepared with follow-up questions if the customer doesn't answer fully or quickly enough! Also, avoid asking too many closed-ended (yes/no) questions; they need to express their opinions freely.
Identify compelling reasons to buy
The first step in the sales process is to identify compelling reasons why a customer would want to buy.
Customer motivation is what drives them to buy something. This implies that they must be expressed by the customer, and not provided by you.
Your job is to ask a set of questions that will allow prospects to share their own compelling reasons for purchasing. You will need to use a funnel of questions to make the customer express the following:
- Quantification of the cost of the problem
- Emotional impact
Identifying this early on means you can structure all of your communication and content around it, leading up to closing.
Determine the prospect's decision-making process and authority
Sales reps need to recognize how things are done in the prospect's company so they don't keep knocking at closed doors! On the other hand, make sure you don't try to qualify or disqualify prospects too early in the process.
When using a consultative selling approach, one of the key success factors is to qualify prospects so they receive a quote or a demo. Therefore, your goal here is not just about making sure you are talking with the actual decision-maker but also validating several criteria:
- The prospect is ready to make a purchase decision
- Is there an incumbent vendor and is the prospect ready to change?
- The investment and ROI for your solution have been established
- When will the decision be made?
- How will the decision be made?
This step of the process is overlooked. It leads sellers to send unqualified quotes and to waste an incredible amount of time.
These three vital steps must be at the heart of your sales process and you should ensure that you execute them properly before closing the sale! Now is the time to take a look at the best closing technique!
What's the best closing technique?
There is no best closing technique, but there are some that work better than others in certain situations.
If you fail to ask for the sale at the right time or if you don't address any of their needs and concerns throughout the sales process then it's very likely they won't buy from you. And even worse, they could also take the information and insights you might provide and use them to feed your competition or get a lower price.
Timing is essential to make sales. Many salespeople identify certain phrases as closing signals when they are not. Beware, especially if this happens early in the sales process.
The following are the top 3 most deceptive signals that clients might provide:
#1. Can you send me a proposal?
The prospect is just trying to get a price and prevent you to go through the whole sales process.
#2. It's urgent, we need it now.
Urgency is often used by prospects to get better pricing, especially when they are not the decision-maker.
#3. Can you send samples? or Can you do a demo?
Again, the prospect is gathering information, it doesn't mean they're ready to decide to buy.
2 of the best closing techniques
#1. The inoffensive close (my favorite and the one that lands me almost all new contracts)
How it works?
It's a series of 3 questions. The prospect should answer 'yes' to each one.
- Do you think I have a good understanding of your business and goals?
- Based on the solution I outlined earlier, do you think I have the expertise to help you?
- Do you want my help?
Why it works?
This inoffensive sequence is used to establish your understanding, confirm it with your prospect, and provide the next step.
It works very well with the "D" (Dominance) and "S" (Steadiness) personality types from the DiSC behavioral assessment.
If you're selling to business owners, this is the go-to technique since a large majority of business owners are "Ds".
#2. The press-where-it-hurts close
How it works?
It's a 2-step close. Remind of the pain, then ask if the prospect is ready to act on it.
- Based on what you shared today, [XYZ] is a challenge. I would hate to see you and your business impacted by [consequence of the challenge] because you didn't have the right solution.
- Are you ready to take action now to avoid this?
Why it works?
This technique is based on natural human behavior to avoid pain or greater pain. It's done in 2 phases:
The pain has to be identified, preferably up front in the sales process, then you need to remind the prospect about it (and what will happen when this pain won't be avoided).
The question needs to be phrased in a way that helps the client realize how being stuck with the current problem could lead them to even worse things. Continue by asking if they're ready to take action now to avoid this scenario.
Closing the sale is just one part of a much larger process. If you forget to do any of the other steps in your sales cycle, it's unlikely that closing will be enough for success.
It's important to remind yourself about all three vital parts: building a strong relationship, identifying compelling reasons why people should buy from you and what they stand to lose if they don't; understanding how decisions are made, and who has an influence on them.
Practice being perfect at all the steps of the process occurring before the close and you'll see that you don't need to put so much effort into closing anymore...and your closing ratio will go up! Give it a try and come back to this article to share your experiences and successes!