Master the Science of Good Closing
The Close doesn’t have to be a big event that’s intimidating or uncomfortable for the prospect and the sales person. It shouldn’t be treated as a major occasion that you approach after overcoming painful hurdles and then confront the prospect in an adversarial way. The Close is actually the opening of a new relationship and should be approached in a natural and positive style. If handled properly it is a pretty easy and simple step in your sales process.
Let’s start with some of the basics, like phrasing the close. You should try to use words that promote a more positive feeling, instead of those that are considered negative words. For instance, try changing the phrase, “If this purchase occurs…” to “When this purchase occurs…” This makes a positive assumption that is based on what previously led to this point, which is the dialogue you’ve been sharing with the prospect and the solutions you presented that matched their requirements. You can even take this statement one step further by saying, “When you make this investment” instead of using the word “purchase”. Investment is a benefits-oriented word, where purchase, sale and cost are words that can be viewed as being negative to a prospect.
If you are explaining that there is an impending price increase, don’t say, “You need to make this purchase before the price increases…” This has a threatening and negative sound. Instead try, “We need to get this investment made before the price increases” or, “Let’s get this investment made before there’s an increase”. Saying “We” or “Let’s” positions you as a partner in the sale. The word “investment” is better and more positive than “price.”
You also have to consider buying signs. When you’re getting ready to close, paying close attention to the prospect’s buying signs will help you determine if the time is right or if more preparatory work is needed before attempting to close. There are two types of buying signs — Direct (or Verbal) and Indirect (or non-Verbal). Let’s first look at Direct signs.
When a prospect asks questions about the product, delivery choices, billing options or any question that indicates they are envisioning the purchase, use or application of your product, then that’s a very positive buying sign. For instance, if they ask “How much is it if we buy in quantity?” or “What are your payment terms?” they are probably interested in purchasing.
Indirect buying signs are a little harder to recognize, but just as important as Direct signs. With Indirect signs you have to pay attention to the person’s behavior and mannerisms. For instance, if they do things such as make close inspection of your proposal or re-examine the product features you already demonstrated, then that shows an interest in purchasing your product.
Even Silence can be a positive buying sign. They could be thinking, considering the investment or the impact it will have on their business, or even discussing it amongst themselves. Part of good listening is recognizing these subtle yet important buying signs, whether direct or indirect. Practice listening and looking for these signs – they will help you with the close.
When you are ready to close and you’ve successfully performed the prior steps in the sales process, chosen the right words to use and picked up on your prospect’s buying signs, then you simply need a good closing statement. Here’s one that might be useful:
“Mr. Customer, our system fulfills all the needs you have listed. It contains all the functions you requested. It meets your budgetary needs and it has the needed expansion capability you require. It appears that it all adds up to satisfy every need that you have listed.”
…and then be Quiet! You see, you have to give the prospect time to process what you just said. You can’t keep talking or interrupt their thought process. You may feel compelled to speak and fill the silence. And when you do, you may say something inappropriate, such as, “I can even throw in a 10% discount!” You’ll end up negotiating against yourself and give away things you don’t need to because you are nervous about this gap of silence. You don’t need to be nervous or uncomfortable. Just be quite and wait for the prospect to respond. If they disagree with anything in this closing statement, then get clarification, get agreement and then close again.
When you get a positive response such as, “Yes, I agree!” then say, “Good! I can have the paperwork ready in a moment so we can start the process. How does that sound?” See, very positive, up-beat and simple. Remember that if you learned everything you can about their needs and requirements from your earlier qualification phase by asking questions and listening, and you established your credibility, and you positioned yourself as a value-added partner to your prospect, then the close becomes a natural progression to this well-executed process.
These techniques may take you some time to get right, so you’ll have to practice them and refine the approach that you are most comfortable with. But don’t forget to use them and try different versions that work best for you. You should never be reluctant to close as long as you’ve taken the proper steps in the process that lead up to the close. After all, you’re helping your customer make a decision and assisting them in fulfilling a need. The close should come naturally and result in a positive, successful relationship between you and your client.
About the author:
Russ Lombardo, President & Founder of PEAK Sales Consulting, is a nationally recognized Sales and CRM consultant, speaker, trainer, and author. Russ works with sales organizations and management who want to increase their sales results by acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. As a speaker, Russ presents sales training seminars and customer retention workshops as well as keynote and conference speeches to dozens of audiences every year. He is the author of five books on Sales and CRM.