The Definite Guide to Sales Closing Techniques and Strategies
No one is going to tell you that closing a deal does not matter - because it really does. Just look at the national sales closing rate to see how many salespeople are experiencing difficulties while closing deals - it’s just 25%. Also, one in three salespeople claims closing to be the toughest part of their job. According to Dan McDade from PointClear, an average salesperson closes 3 deals out of 14. It seems that someone here needs a tough coach like in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’: A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing.
Do you want to work in sales? Close! Here’s an ultimate guide how to close every sale.
You can learn your prospects, make an excellent presentation, have a pleasant conversation, and finally close no deal. Do you want to know why this is happening?
The good news is that we’ve already found it out, captured the main idea of what goes wrong while things seem to be approaching success. The bad news is that this idea is not so widely spread, therefore, lot's of salespeople tend to make the same mistakes over and over. If you still want to learn how to make deals and avoid the difficulties that confuse other salespeople, then you need to read this guide.
The Ultimate Guide to the Most Effective Sales Closing Techniques
Download your copy of the guide and you will find:
- 25 best practices to close deals
- 8 tips to master closing sales
- A winning strategy for closing
Table of Contents
- Closing and sales
- Closing techniques and why use them
- A winning strategy for closing
- 8 tips to close sales
1. Closing and sales
Wikipedia has a very good definition of the term "closing":
...Closing means achievement of the desired outcome, which may be an exchange of money or acquiring a signature.
Sure, such a statement is not going to make us feel any calmer about closing. As you sit in front of the client, you can see “the desired outcome” and you are either eager to rush into it (“Sign the contract and pay me right now”) or you are too scared to blow it off so you keep pushing it off (“And have I told you about this feature? No? Good, let's have another 15-minute presentation about it”).
Wikipedia, as useful as it might be for other purposes, is not quite right here. It’s not the “desired outcome” you should be chasing. The ultimate goal in sales closing is to establish a wonderful and long-term relationship between the brand you represent and the person sitting across the table from you.
No one is going to tell you that closing a deal does not matter, because that would be wrong. It does matter.
But when you shift your focus from you to your prospect, you’ll see that he/she is just as worried as you are. After all, it’s not you who has to decide whether it's the right product to invest in, the price is nice, the quality is satisfactory, and the transit period is not too long.
Thus, closing a sale is a process of you delivering value to the prospect, a transaction that has a “desirable outcome” for both of you.
Why is closing important?
Among salespeople, there is one misconception that you could hear about. It states that you don’t need to close the sale. If the client is ready, she will make the decision to close the deal.
Closing is important (even though we’d like to think otherwise) for the simple purpose of eliminating the pressure of doing it. Here are some reasons why you should consider it the most important step of a successful sale:
- Prospects don’t close the deal on their own: they have to be guided through every step in the paperwork, or otherwise, they’ll leave;
- Without a proper closing, no brilliant presentation matters - we all know a situation when despite a flawless pitch we just delivered, a client leaves out of a clear blue sky;
- Closing helps you wrap up the process. If you aren’t going to close, get ready for an hour-long Q&A session with your client ending in “I didn’t really want to buy. I was just curious, you know?”
- When you close, you share a part of responsibility with your prospect. When you don’t, you lay all the burden of decision making on their shoulders - they can get scared, panic, and leave.
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2. Closing techniques and why use them
Sales tend to be quite an uncertain thing. You don’t read minds or have ESP to help you out. Hesitation in sales is explainable. But it’s not okay.
Ambiguity makes you look neither good nor convincing. It does not bring you sales, it doesn’t get you clients.
In order to make you feel better and more confident, top salespeople shared their closing sales techniques and strategies. They don’t work for each and every client but when your traditional approach fails, one of these strategies can play a crucial part in your success.
Also, closing techniques and strategies are here to help you drop “maybes” and be assertive. If you get worried and your heart starts beating 140 times per minute, having some ready-to-go templates will make it easier to dive into the process.
Many of the closing techniques for sales we are going to talk about were developed and practiced by leading salespeople like Larry Ellison and Erika Feidner. These folks know their stuff and they can help you get better as well.
Technique #1. Time-limited Close
When to use: a perfect fit for situations when your prospect backs away with phrases like “I’d like to think it over”, “I’d like to sleep on it”.
How it works: when a prospect tries to put away the decision, you bring up a limited discount, a promotion, etc.
“I can understand that you want to consider everything carefully, but we have a 30% discount on this product which expires tomorrow. So, buying it today would be a great deal for you”.
Tip: the time-limited sale closing techniques are only valid if you do have an ongoing discount or promotion. Lying will not make your client more eager to close the deal. On the contrary, it will just make you look like a pushy salesperson (and, as a matter of fact, no one likes to be approached by such a guy).
Technique #2. The Assumptive Close
When to use: it is one of the best sales closing techniques if the prospect seems to be far from making up his mind. By using the right questions and phrases, you direct them towards the closed deal.
Example: you can use one of these lines:
- "Would you prefer a blue or yellow purse?"
- "Our standard shipping will get it to you by Monday. Is it okay, or would you like to order the rush delivery?"
- "Will 10 units be enough to start with?"
- "If you sign for a year in advance, you’ll get a 10% discount."
Depending on your industry, you can come up with new phrases. For example, in the catering industry, you could go with something like “Will you be having ketchup or soy sauce with your meal?”
Technique #3. The Custom Close
When to use: works if you've known your prospect for a while, know their needs and wants, and have the product that can satisfy them.
“So, you want a wireless router with Gigabit Ethernet, detachable antennas, a traffic meter and a WPA Enterprise. Any additional features?”
You wait for the customer to answer, in 99%, all of them say “no”. After you hear the answer, you say in a casual way :
“Okay, then our [name of the product] is a good fit. It comes with a 1-year warranty for 399$. All I need is your signature, and I’ll have it delivered to you until the end of the day”.
Keep it casual when you hand the contract to the prospect. Every hesitation here might deprive you of the success.
Tip: the technique is better to be used if trust and mutual respect are already established. It’s a good fit for customers you've known for a while.
Technique #4. The Question Close
When to use: using questions is one of the most effective sales closing techniques to work with objections. If you see that a prospect is not quite sure about getting the product, try asking questions to find out the reason and try to change their mind.
- "Is the product I’m offering solving your problem?"
- "Can we proceed with the shipment?"
- "Is the delivery date okay with you?"
Asking questions is a win-win move for you as well as your client: it’s both a good way to close the sale and find out whether the customer is happy with the choice (it’s important to remember about the happy long-term relationship).
Technique #5. Bonus Close
When to use: this one works with new prospects who you’d like to become regular clients.
How it works: the main purpose here is to surprise a prospect with a pleasant bonus. You should make them think “Wow, that’s nice”.
Simple as that, the bonus close often provides surprisingly good results and get a good reputation for the company.
- "I’m going to add an extra [product name] as a complimentary gift";
- "You can take the [product name] for free. Have a nice day";
- "I enjoyed working with you, so no charge for the delivery".
Technique #6. Rational Close
When to use: one of the most successful sales closing techniques is to approach rational customers by showing the evidence of quality.
How it works: the approach appeals to common sense, science, and logical thinking. What you have to do is to create a powerful argument based on evidence-backed data.
“So, you want a quiet humidifier that’s a good fit for work? This one uses ultrasonic cool mist technology using the frequencies that a human ear cannot catch. I can get it delivered to your place by the evening”.
“Does the product satisfy your needs? Is the price good for you? Okay, in such a case I see no reasons to put away the shipping procedure”.
Technique #7. Opportunity Cost Close
When to use: among other good sales closing techniques, try this one when a prospect hesitates that the investment is worthwhile.
How it works: the main idea of the technique is to show that the cost of not buying appears to be much higher than the actual price.
“If you keep your current interface, what is that going to cost you? How many clients would you lose due to a bad UI-design? That will cost you much more than hiring a web designer and creating a modern interface.”
“It sure looks expensive, but the new software will help you work with 3-5 times more customers per day. Therefore, you’ll be getting much more money than you are spending”.
Tip: when you talk about the “real cost”, don’t necessarily talk about money: reputation, efficiency or speed is just as important as cash.
Technique #8. Trial Close
When to use: the technique is usually used to find out whether the prospector is really ready to buy.
How it works: ask questions that imply that your prospector has already bought the product.
- "What would [the product name] look in your living room?"
- "If you had [the product name] at home, wouldn’t you like to show it to your guests?"
- "You really liked it, didn't you?"
Tip: after you've asked a question, stay quiet and let the prospector answer. Her response will tell whether she’s ready to close the sale.
Technique #9. Balance-sheet Close
When to use: when you have to sell a product that has a relatively bad reputation and some undeniable flaws.
How it works: in front of your prospect, write a pros-cons analysis. It is a good move to admit the flaws of the product on company’s behalf, but pros will prevail anyway. The technique will free your prospect from weighing the decision because you’ve done it for him.
“Although it is an expensive product, it has [here you say about the benefits of the product]" which is worth every cent you pay".
“Let’s weigh everything up. Even though you are not getting ... , but the product is within your budget, and it has [the benefits of the product]. That’s good, isn’t it?”
Tip: in sales literature, the balance-sheet close can also be defined as Abraham Lincoln and Ben Franklin sales closing techniques.
Technique #10. Artisan Close
When to use: a good fit for adding additional value to premium products
How it works: when one buys something, she usually thinks about it in terms of work that was needed to create a product. If something is easy to make, it has little value. If it took time and effort to create a product, it deserves to be expensive. Salespeople learned how to exploit this belief.
“The software was designed by skillful engineers who spent years to find out the most optimized solution for SME”
“The waffle maker has 3D heat option that might look like a simple adjustment, but took years to create and develop”.
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3. A winning strategy for closing
“Wait, what? I don’t need a strategy. I have my own, and it works just fine!”
A lot of salespeople feel intimidated when someone tells that it’s time to change a sales closing strategy. All of us have our own way that works (otherwise, we’d be unemployed) and changing it seems like taking a lot of unnecessary risks.
But here is an important thing to keep in mind:
Over the last ten years, the way people do shopping has changed significantly. Digitizing and Internet has made us different and the way we treat salespeople changed as well.
What if your strategy, however fine 10 years ago, now needs to be revised and modernized with new techniques for closing the sale to bring you more sales and job satisfaction?
In his article for Inc.com, Adam Heitzman shares some winning strategies for closing a deal. They are modern, customer-centered, and highly effective. That’s why we decided to share his ideas with you.
Step 1. Identify the decision maker
We all know that pitching the product to an assistant who says “I’ll tell the manager about you” is highly ineffective. Why? Because he simply doesn’t care.
You need to pitch your ideas to someone who carries weight in the company. She might be busy and difficult to find, so try arranging a meeting, asking for an appointment, reaching her on social media, etc.
Sometimes the entire sales pitch is about finding the right person in the room so make sure you know who you talk to.
Step 2. Be real
There is a classic rookie mistake for salespeople who ignore closing techniques in sales: acting as if you are giving a speech in front of a big crowd or talking to a robot. This involves long monologues, cheesy phrases, and lots of worries (because who likes talking to a big crowd, right?).
Walk away from this idea. Forget about monologues, sometimes, you shouldn’t even bring your PowerPoints.
Talk to your prospect the way you do to your colleague, friend, or partner. Be genuine, fairly honest, don’t avoid listening and answering questions.
Be prepared, know the distance, respect boundaries, but keep being yourself anyway.
Step 3. Make it look urgent
Some salespeople are so scared to be pushy, that they can wait for prospects to make up their minds for years (!), and nothing good comes out of it.
By saying “make it look urgent”, we don’t mean rushing the client (“You either sign it right now or the deal is off”). You have to create a stimulus that will make a prospect more eager to buy. A limited offer, a discount, a promotion - all those things will do the job.
If you do it right, the prospect will be the one to say: “I want it delivered today”. And that’s the goal, right?
Step 4. Ease objections
In order to close the deal easily, you need to convince a prospect that your product is the right choice to make. And if you want to do that, think about fears and worries a person next to you has, and eliminate them with a good pitch.
In this Youtube video, learn about 9 most popular objections your next prospect might have.
Best case scenario: you sit down with your team, write the potential objections, ease them in a powerful speech, client is happy, you close the deal.
Worst case scenario: you are giving your speech, and some objections catche you off-guard. What to do then? Sales experts like Tom Searcy recommends to give yourself some time to think. Thirty seconds of silence is much better than a rushed answer full of inaccuracy and lying.
What you can do as well is close your sale on the objection. This move is highly recommended by David Finkel in his article for Huffington Post.
Step 5. Know your competition
This step of the strategy is very important. You have to realize that before listening to your pitch: a prospect did his own market research. So, if out of the blue you are attacked with a question like “Why [the name of your competitor] has this model for a lower cost than you?”, you must know the answer.
Also, the deeper knowledge you have, the more confident you will be while pitching your idea. Find out, if there are things that you are doing and your competitors don’t to make the brand look better.
Step 6. Watch what, how, and when you say
Your focus has to be laser sharp. If you put your foot in your mouth - kiss your prospect goodbye. So talk about your areas of expertise, the data you’ve prepared, and try to not lose the track.
Also, an old saying goes “It’s not what you say that matters. It’s how you say it”. In order to make your words sound credible, follow one simple advice - mean what you say. Come on, if you don’t believe in what’s coming out of your mouth, how everyone else can?
If salespeople were to change this saying, we’d add “it’s how you say it and when you say it”. Sometimes, during the sales pitch, we unsell the product to the client. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is what happens all the time.
Some people are easy to sell to. All you have to do is say few sentences about the product, ask a closing question - and that’s it!
On his Entrepreneur post, Grant Cardone gave some very good advice on how to communicate clearly in order to effectively close sales.
Being good at these types of sales closing techniques comes with training and experience. But if you are a beginner, simply focusing on your words as you speak will do the trick.
4. 8 tips to close sales
Do you feel like it’s still not enough? Are you eager to get more tricks for a successful close?
That’s what we thought. In addition to the 10 extremely effective closing techniques and a hotshot strategy, we have 8 tried-and-true tips for sales closing.
1. Ask for the next steps
When a customer called or did any other action, ask them what the next steps they'd like to do. If one is unsure, guide them towards closing the sale. Here, it’s important to avoid a rookie mistake - creating too many steps before the deal is closed.
2. Give and receive
During a sale, a prospect will ask you a lot: to demonstrate a product, to lower the price, to get customers’ reviews, etc.
It is an extremely effective way to ask the customer to do something as well after you fulfilled her needs and wants. For example, after you’ve shown a presentation, ask a prospect to fill out the forms.
3. Keep the end in mindDuring your conversation with a prospect, remind yourself what the endpoint of the talk is. Focus your efforts towards a successful close, and move in this direction. According to the post on Forbes, your work is not done when you close the deal. So when the sale is closed, don't forget to thank your new customers. Also, it's a good idea to ask them about the reasons why they decided to choose your product or service.
There’s a number of tricks to make this step effective. Successful salespeople agree on the fact that using a CRM system is of great help. There's no shortage of CRM systems on the market, so it's easy to find the one most fitting your business and other needs. For instance, NetHunt CRM allows you to organize your contacts within Gmail and comfortably manage a sales process using a customizable pipeline.
Also, once you have a need to reach back to a lead or client later, just setup a follow-up reminder. It will notify you to get in touch with that person on time to make sure that the lead doesn't run cold. You can view all your follow-ups as a list to manage it as your agenda or a to-do list.
4. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
It’s a classic mistake to promise impossible stuff just so everything looks perfect to a prospect. However, nothing good comes out of this approach - just deception and the desire to contact a different company.
Sometimes, in order to make a better impression of the company, you can, let’s say, exaggerate the delivery terms. When the product arrives sooner, your customer will be happy and pleasantly surprised.
5. Sell value
A lot of salespeople claim a good price to be the main advantage of the product. However, this approach is wrong. Neither you, nor your prospect is buying something just because it’s cheap (sure, sometimes it happens on sales, but we all have hard times regretting it later).
So, when you are pitching a product, focus on more extensive values: the image of the prospect, the reputation of the brand, the efficiency of your solution, its health benefits, etc.
6. Plan and prepare
You want your deal closed as soon as possible - anywhere, anytime. Make sure you have all the forms, contracts, and other kinds of paperwork at hand. Additionally, you have to provide fresh products updates if there are any. Also, there could be some spur-of-the-moment objections, so make sure you know how to overcome them.
7. Treat competitors with respect
Competition is a common thing in business. Naturally, you cannot like the guys who “steal” your clients. On the other hand, competition is the only thing that helps your company survive and moves the market forward.
When you have a sit-down with a prospect, don’t put down your competition. Odds are, your customer could start to defend other companies - and that will cost you a sale and reputation. Both are too important to lose.
8. Keep your mouth shut
That’s a core closing tip endorsed by top salespeople like Tom Hopkins. He says:
“After you’ve asked a closing question - shut up!”
As much as we’d love to, we can’t just ignore closing. It can be frightening, scary, pressuring, but as you practice and get more experience, you'll see it kind of gets easy and fun.
If you use closing techniques sales, your success will increase simply because you've found your way to the customer. These tactics are developed by top professionals, they are tried and true - it’s a minimal risk of failure.
Also, you need to make sure that the closing the sale methods that you use are flexible and up to date to help you build a plan of a close in your mind.
To wrap it up, there is one thing to point out - there is no step-by-step guide to becoming an expert in closing. As you get out of your comfort zone, start taking risks, and getting new experience with closing the sale techniques, your expertise will improve.