Let me start by saying that I hate the word “closing.” It brings to mind visions of the pushy salesperson who will do or say whatever they must to “close the deal.” That’s NOT what I’m talking about here. I believe salespeople are consultants or doctors who are paid when they bring the right solution to a company or a person. When that’s done correctly and professionally, there’s no need for “closing” in the pushy sense. But for the sake of sticking to the terminology that the industry is familiar with, we’ll call it “closing” here.
Closing the deal is the most important part of a sales pitch. As everything a salesperson does is in hopes that it leads to the final step of securing a customer. Pending deals or orders are great, but sales managers and salespeople must be focusing on:
- The amount of business they’re closing
- Overall closing ratio
- Length of time it takes from presenting the proposal to closing it
- What changes can be made to the presentation to increase close rates
- If they didn’t buy, why?
If the numbers above are lacking, you’ll discover that your sales cycle is taking longer than it should, or not closing at all, so here are some sale closing techniques and strategies to help you close sales faster.
Sale Closing Techniques
1. Identify The Decision Maker
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re selling to, knowing who the decision maker is, and presenting to them firsthand is key to a quick close, or in my opinion, to any close at all.
We all know that decision makers sometimes try to send someone else in to listen to your product/service presentation first. That’s understandable, of course, given everyone’s crazy schedules, but know that you have 0% chance of closing if the decision maker isn’t hearing your pitch, so why bother presenting? The typical conversation may go something like- “Mrs. Smith got called away, so she asked me to meet with you and fill her in later.” OK, you’re a seasoned professional and even YOU don’t close everyone you present to. So what do you think the odds are that the “fill-in” you’re forced to present to will be able to close Mrs. Smith on your behalf? Slim to none.
The best you could hope for in that case is that Mr. Fill-in does a good enough job to get Mrs. Smith to let you present AGAIN to her. The choice is yours, of course, but my suggestion would be to reschedule for a time that Mrs. Smith can be there herself. GASP! “Cancel a chance to present??” YES! For two reasons. First, we already noted that the best possible outcome will be for you to present again to the decision maker, so why not cut to the chase and save time by scheduling that now? Second, this gives you STATUS! Whatever you’re selling, you should believe with every fiber in your being that people need what you have, that you hold the key to their success, and they would be lucky to buy from you.
If you do whatever the prospect, or fill-in, says (ex: send me this, reschedule for this, present to him and then to her and then to…) you are no longer the problem-solving consultant that people WANT to buy from. You are the monkey that will dance at their whim… and they will make you dance until they buy from someone else WITH status. This is an important topic to be covered at length another time, but to put it simply- present ONLY to the decision maker!
2. Create Urgency
“Time kills deals.” Plain and simple. You don’t ever want to appear desperate, or you lose the status we spoke about earlier, and you absolutely should never be pushy, but there’s nothing wrong with helping a potential customer get to their decision faster.
Let me clarify though, that this, as with all sales techniques, should ONLY be implemented when what you’re selling is the absolute best solution for the prospect! Salespeople have gotten the bad reputation of the stereotypical cheesy used car salesman by “closing” too hard and almost forcing the prospect to buy! “Once you walk out that door this deal is off the table…” Ideally, you will have made the prospect see exactly why your product or service is the right choice, right now, and they’ll be asking how soon they can get started!
But in any case, don’t ever rush the prospective customer. If necessary, give them a deadline as an incentive to commit or offer a discount or something free to make moving forward a win-win for all parties. There are just too many variables that could come into play with longer timeframes – decision maker staff changes, supply issues, budget issues… If it’s best for the client, make it happen as soon as possible, professionally!
3. Sell To Solve Their Problem, Not Yours
What are the first things that happen when you go to the doctor? The nurse comes in to ask questions about why you’re there, he/she takes your vitals, takes notes, asks questions about the medications you’re taking. Then the doctor comes in, reviews the above and asks a bunch more questions. They may then order tests or bloodwork… After this, then and only then (if they’re a good doctor, that is) will they prescribe treatment or medication.
Is this what you do in your sales process, or do you “go for the jugular,” trying to slam your product down the prospect’s throat as soon as possible? I learned early on that the best sale you ever make could be the one you never make. What does that mean? I sat with a prospect once and went through my rigorous discovery process, trying to learn exactly where and why they were hurting. By the time we finished, I told them “I have something I could offer you but I don’t think it’s the best option for you. Call …., they have exactly what you need”. What do you think their reaction was? Total disbelief… and a ton of referrals to clients who I WAS the best solution for!
Again, going back to the doctor/patient analogy, if a doctor thinks you need a cardiologist, they’ll send you to one! They won’t try to treat you to “make the sale,” or at least I hope they won’t! Be the doctor in your field.
4. Know Your Competition and Your Industry
If your goal is to be a salesperson, know your product. If you want to be a trusted advisor, know your industry, and that includes knowing your competition. What areas of concern, or objections, could a prospect ask that would stump you? Do you ever say to yourself “oh man I hope they don’t ask me about…!” Do your research and know the areas where your business is more competitive than the competition and where it’s not. Never leave yourself open to being caught off-guard.
This will also do wonders for your confidence, a massive factor in closing! I hate to beat the dead horse, but I’ve never not taken the advice of a doctor who has done a thorough job finding out what was wrong with me, had the answers to all of my questions, and confidently prescribed a course of treatment. Conversely, I’ve walked out of many offices looking for a second opinion when those things didn’t happen. Do the work to prepare properly, it’ll pay off in many ways.
People are getting better and better at spotting BS artists, so “fake it till you make it” doesn’t cut it anymore. Oh, you may get over on a few here and there but prospective clients can see when sales people aren’t being genuine or real. And if you DON’T genuinely care about a customer’s business and their interests, please find a new profession so you stop ruining it for the rest of us who do! You won’t last long here anyway so stop wasting time and go find something you CAN be passionate about. Too harsh? I hope so because I desperately want you to close more deals, faster. But I want you to do it the RIGHT way. Be the salesperson that you’d want selling something to your mom or your child. Then you’ll never have to “close”.
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Mike Boccia has been in Sales and Marketing for over 25 years and really honed his skills as a licensed advisor in the financial industry. He’s been the keynote speaker at conferences and training events worldwide and is the founder and CEO of iDecide Interactive.
Mike Boccia is now an author, speaker, coach, CEO, and most importantly, a father to his 2 beautiful daughters.