They say “everyone’s in sales.” While I tend to agree, I often wonder why people are so bad at actually closing deals. There’s nothing worse than an overly aggressive close that makes everyone feel uneasy. Yet, this is exactly what people expect the sales process to feel like.
But there’s another way...
After six years of sales experience and being named one of the top salespeople in my company, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be sleazy or cheesy when making the sale.
Avoiding Indirect, Awkward, Aggressive
If you’ve done the hard work of getting a client to talk to you and trust you, you’ve already done the heavy lifting. You made the call. You sent the email. You set the appointment. You showed up. You asked the right questions. The close should be the easiest part. All you have to do is ask for the business!
So why is this the part so many of us dread? Why do we make closing the sale so complicated?
Part of the problem is that we forget to ask for the client’s business like a human being. We believe we need to change tactics, put on different personality, and CLOSE! And this shift causes all kinds of weirdness. Being indirect, awkward, or aggressive will not only take the focus completely off the client’s needs, but it highlights what you have to gain, reducing your chances of getting the sale.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Any of these sound familiar?
“Sooooo, uhhhhh, do you wanna buy?” (Awkward)
“Have I solved all your needs? Ok, why wouldn’t you buy this today?” (Aggressive)
“So, sounds like everything is great. Should I send the product Tuesday or Wednesday?” (Aggressive)
“So what do you think?” (Indirect)
Do you think your prospect is still thinking about how your amazing service or product will help them when you try to close using any of those phrases? Probably not. They’re thinking about how you’re soooooo close to selling them. They’re thinking about how awkward you just made them feel. Or worse, how uncomfortable you clearly feel.
Uttering any of these phrases is not a great place to be. Especially after all of your hard work to get to this point.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still in your best interest to make the sale, but you need to do it from the prospect’s line of thinking and motivations – not yours.
Generic and rookie closing sentences – which these are – take the motivation to buy off the table. It allows space for the prospect to shift out of the mindset you worked so hard to get them into and shut the entire deal down.
The Formula for Closing Success
I recommend building your close off of a sentence structure that highlights the positives your product or service offers. For example:
“It seems like (product/service) could really have a positive impact...
“It sounds like (product/service) will really make a difference in (specific area of business)…
“From everyone’s responses, it sounds like (product/service) will solve (area of need)…
Then, complete your sentence with a question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer. (see bold)
“It seems like (product/service) could really have a positive impact. Do you think it’s something you’ll implement?”
“It sounds like (product/service) will really make a difference in (specific area of business). Are you thinking this is a permanent replacement over (competitor)?”
“From everyone’s responses it sounds like (product/service) will solve (area of need). Are you comfortable moving forward with (product/service). Can I answer any more questions?”
If the answer is a “No,” you can ask about and handle objections at that point (you should rehearse answers to popular objections as well).
But if the answer is a “Yes,” you can ask follow-up questions that will help you solidify the next steps of the sale.
Follow Up to Close the Sale
Follow up questions give you details that help you prevent stalls. They will also mentally take your prospect through the stages of completion. In short, follow up questions map out all the next steps for the client and you.
Follow up questions give you the confidence of knowing your prospect understands what the next steps are in order to purchase. Here’s a quick example of a few follow-up questions. (see bold)
You: “It seems like (product/service) could really have a positive impact. Do you think it’s something you’ll implement?”
Prospect: “Yes, I think we will.”
You: “Great. So what are the next steps?”
You: “So tell me about the last time you purchased something new. Will our product take the same path?”
Now, if the prospect says the next step is to place an order with you, then great! Ask how many they want of your product/service and take the order.
If they’re not ready to order, then keep asking questions to find out what the next steps are and what you can to help facilitate them. If you need to end the interaction, always schedule a time – preferably within a day or so – to follow up. Never leave a meeting without a plan for your next interaction.
Remember that each business, person, and meeting is not the same, so these logical, clarifying questions will be a real difference maker and help you carry the sale across the goal line.
The Best Way to Carnegie Hall?
Practice, practice, practice. Okay, it’s an old joke, but the advice is still solid.
As salespeople, we practice our introductions. We practice our product knowledge. We practice our questions. We practice our answers to potential questions. And we practice how to handle objections.
It’s time to start practicing your closes and making them second nature. If you practice them enough, you’ll get to a point where your prospect won’t even know you’re closing.
Jay Cullinan is a Regional Sales Manager at Medtrition Inc. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife and two kids. Jay provides non-sleazy sales advice and modern sales strategy on his blog Selling Without Selling.