The Art of Closing the Sale: Four Tactics That Work Now
Many sales people struggle with closing sales. They’re stuck between pressure to do more deals from sales management and reluctant customers resisting the sale because they don’t like “pushy” salespeople. Besides, when a salesperson asks for the deal, they’re staring rejection in the face, and few truly thrive on rejection. Read on to discover how you can safely close more business and make everyone happy.
Be Careful How You Do It
Some of the worst closes, still taught in old school sales training, insult the buyer. They’re “Hey, stupid…” questions such as “You want to save money, don’t you?” “There’s no way you’d pass up a great deal like this, would you?” “I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a great deal.”
Stop using “Hey, stupid…” closing questions.
Manipulative closes may work for a single transaction, but you won’t get good referrals and these days get bad online reviews. Try them on a Millennial and they’ll throw you out of their office, never to be allowed back, forever labeled, “Douchbag!”
Use any traditional close technique on an executive and you’ll face resistance. About 90 percent of chief executives have a sales background; they’ve used every close you’ll try on them – they know what you’re doing and with sales shields up.
Why You Must Ask for the Order
Yet, you still must ask for the order. While a solid percentage of customers will proactively ask you to do the deal, indecisive souls need a nudge to get over the commitment hump. (Read about the difference between deciding and committing here.)
For example, have you ever been at a restaurant, thinking about having another drink or some dessert, but not completely committed to doing so? You hope the waitress comes by and asks you, “Are you ready for another drink?” or “You cleaned your plate, you deserve dessert.” And when they do, you order, and if you don’t, you don’t.
Strange how that happens.
From your own experience, you realize people sometimes need to be asked to buy. You get to play this role as a sales pro.
The secret to successful closes: trial closes to test the customer’s position on their decision and commitment. Ask for the order too soon and you’ll slow the purchasing momentum. Close to late and you’ll miss the point where they’re ready to buy.
Trial closes simply check on customer objectives (the outcome they want and risk they wish to avoid), priorities (the sequence of their activities), and criteria (what creates value and how they’ll decide).
Here’s how: “I want to make sure that I completely understand what you want… (play back their objective statements from your notes).”
Next, you can carefully test to see if they are open to additional items of value.
“Would you find ________ valuable?” “What if it was at no additional cost to you?” It doesn’t take much more than that.
Consider these four closing approaches that work today because they don’t feel like a high pressure close.
Made popular in the book Guerrilla Selling, this method reviews the key criteria of what the customer considers sales success. Summarize their Need, Budget, and Commitment and when they say yes, the deal is done.
You say, “Based on what you’ve told me so far, if you can get (Need: review their stated criteria for success) and if you can buy it for (Budget: review their budget) or less, and if you can receive it (Commitment: by their deadline) or sooner, that’s what you’re willing to commit to.”
They say, “Yes” and you close the deal, “Let’s take care of the paperwork now so we can lock in that price and your delivery date.”
They say, “No” and you know you screwed up, you don’t understand their buying criteria, what they consider valuable. Say, “I’m so sorry! I missed something. Let’s review what you’re looking for.”
Measure Their Confidence
People make the commitment when they’re confident they’ve made the right choice, that the risk is lowest, and that they are getting the best value given their resource constraints. To find out where they are, test their confidence. This method comes from the book, Guerrilla Negotiating. Assess their confidence with this phrase:
“On a scale from one to ten, how confident are you about doing business with us?”
If they say, “Ten!” Reply with, “I’m honored by your confidence. Let’s lock this in for you now.”
If they offer a lower number, say, “Thank you! What needs to happen next to increase your confidence one more notch.” They’ll tell you what you need to do next to get closer to the close. Not only does this work to understand where they are, but it identifies what you need to do to get closer to the close.
Customer Confidence Causes Commitment.
This works so well because it feels like a measurement, not a trial close. Anyone can use this phrase with confidence and no risk. Teach it to your entire team.
Ryan Donaldson of R&R Resources inspired this method (he calls his version Four S’s). He uses a variation to ask for charitable donations, achieving a 93 percent probability of a yes with a qualified prospect who has a propensity to give.
This is my adaptation of his method to sales. Have a conversation with your prospect discussing these four items in this order.
Authentically discuss the relationship that you’ve developed, how you feel about them, how they affect you, and why it’s a strong relationship.
For example, “I’ve really appreciated getting to know you, your team, and your challenges and dreams. I’m a better person because of what you’ve shared with me, and this makes me want to commit to your success, becoming a part of your team, contributing and growing.”
Accurately discuss their identity, what they do, how they are a hero, and the role that you’re expecting them to fill with the team.
For example, “Because of your leadership within this company, it’s obvious that you are well respected with people seeking your insight and wisdom. You’re a big success factor for your company. And I expect that the thoughtful decisions that we make together will continue to deliver positive results for all concerned.”
Humbly remind them about how the relationship between the two of you has value, how you’re supportive of and important to their success, reinforcing their identity role.
For example: “I suggest that with what my team brings and the insights and innovation your team brings that we are a powerful force in changing your market for the better, creating competitive advantage, and sustainable profits. I don’t know of a better partnership.”
Tell them what you expect from them, how you’ll work together, how their commitment is important to their role and identity.
For example, “With this in mind, let’s develop a timeline for working together, designing a phased rollout with checkpoints and milestones to minimize risk and optimize cash flow. With your guidance and commitment, I know that this project with be a success long remembered for your thought leadership and flawless execution ability. Does that meet with your approval?”
When delivered with genuine, authentic connection, it’s compelling and effective. While this method requires planning and practice, it’s power makes the work worthwhile.
How Can I Help?
Remember that executives don’t do the work themselves, they hire help. Easily the most powerful close with executives, “How can I help” triggers a conversation about how they feel you can best deliver to meet their needs, moving the conversation to sales resolution.
Use these four closing methods today and watch your sales soar.
Let’s have a conversation about speaking at your next event, growing your business through strategic planning, marketing plans, executive coaching, and customer acquisition systems. Find a mutually agreeable time at MarksSchedule.com or contact me.
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