Sales Closing Techniques
“I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.” – Bo Bennett
Sales closing techniques are used (normally) at the end of a sales conversation or following a sales process. At this point in the discussion, there’s really no point being timid or being frightened of using a closing technique as you’ve already done all the work – now it’s time to find out if you’re going to be successful!
Here are examples of a number of commonly used sales closing techniques – you’ll probably recognise some and might already use some too? The judgement about which technique to use when is genuinely up to you, how you’re reading your relationship with your client, how receptive they are, etc, etc. None come with a guarantee of success!
The ‘just ask’ close: Sometimes, sales people try to use clever sales closing techniques to complete a sale but often the best close is to simply ask! If you’ve answered all their questions and they seem positive, you can simply ask, “so, would you like to proceed with things?”. The most important lesson here is to always shut up once you’ve asked the question – even if your prospect isn’t ready to proceed, by not saying anything you are forcing them to essentially explain why – which means you can try answering that objection.
The assumptive close: This is a classic ‘confidence’ mechanism. If you assume you will eventually complete a sale and consistently use language to suggest this is the case then as part of this close, you can even have the paperwork pre-completed and ready, full in the knowledge that your prospect will be ready to sign!
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The alternative close: Another classic and normally, fairly easy to use. The idea is similar to the assumptive close (above) where you simply present the buyer with two options. An example would be, “So, would you prefer is in blue, yellow or green” or “which of these three options would you choose?”. Psychologists have repeatedly proven that humans like making a decision when there are three choices to select from so try to create three, rather than two (or too many!) options!
The ‘ask an opinion’ close: Engineering the conversation to the point where you can say, “In your opinion, would you think this <product / service> would solve your problem?” generally softens the actual close, presenting it instead as a ‘test’ of their understanding. Clearly, if they say ‘yes’ then you’re largely there but if they say ‘no’, then you’ve given yourself the opportunity to find out what you’ve not covered yet.
The ‘chuck it in’ close: This is fairly basic … adding on something to sweeten the deal on the basis of, if I provide you with the <insert thing you can give away>, would you proceed today? It’s important to think about the prospects perception of value rather than the cost of the give away – if might not actually cost you anything to provide some extension to a trial or subscription but the perception of ‘worth’ to the prospect might be considerable.
The ‘agreement’ or ‘concession’ close: If your prospect asks for a ‘deal’, you should respond by asking, “if I can do that for you today, would you agree to proceed?”. This is important because you need to close the door to them asking for more and more concessions later so you can make it clear that this is therefore a ‘one time’ offer.
The ‘Ben Franklin’ / ‘balance sheet’ close: A decision making technique used famously by Ben Franklin was to create a two column list featuring the pros on one side and the cons on the other … whichever column was larger wins! As the sales person, you can adopt this same technique as a sales closing technique and you can ‘help your prospect’ create their own list, obviously ensuring your solution produces the longest list!
The NPS (Net Promoter Score) close: This is a tricky one to explain – essentially the close goes like this, “So, Bob, on a scale of zero to 10, how close are we to moving forwards / working together / signing up”. If you get a 10, get the paperwork. For all other answers you then say, “Well, most new clients start at <their number> because you can’t really be a 10 until you’ve started using our services / products!”. This close is influenced on the NPS system which measures customer satisfaction but in the closing scenario, we’re using something people are familiar with (the zero to 10 scoring system) and manipulating their answer to a close regardless of what their answer actually is!
The ‘get it while it’s hot’ close: This only works if you genuinely have a time imposed deadline that is real. So, if you really do have an engineering team in town next week then you can use this to create ‘urgency’. Remember, once someone decides to proceed, they generally want it as soon as possible thereafter!
The hedgehog close: If you stroke a hedgehog you’re going to get prickled! So if a prospect asks a question then you can normally (carefully) retort with a trial close. So, “would you be able to install next week?” should be answered by “would you like it installing next week?”. This allows you to then judge the ‘real need’ that triggered the question – if they’re ready then they’ll say so … if they’re simply chatting then you’ll soon realise that they’re not that bothered.
The ‘Yorkshire blunt’ close: Simple really, once you think you’ve said everything possible to persuade someone that they should proceed with you, simply ask, “Be straight with me, have I given you any reason not to proceed?”. It’s certainly blunt but it does get to the point!
The ‘why wouldn’t you’ close: If you are confident that you have covered everything, answered all objections, confirmed any special agreements or extras, etc. then you can try this technique … “Would there be any reason why we can’t proceed?”.
The ‘external pressure’ close: If there are any external factors influencing the buyer then you can obviously exploit these to help you close a sale by making the close more about the pressure of this issue more than the close of a sale! So, “Obviously, I can help you in time for the launch of your new business / shop / product launch, but only if you’re able to proceed with our agreement immediately as I need to then get my team / systems / schedule arranged to complete everything in time for you?”.
If you’re struggling with sales then consider getting in some expert help – you can even outsource sales activities if you really aren’t comfortable with the selling process!
Blunt sales closing techniques from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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