It’s time to take charge of your sales! Meet the most effective closing techniques and tips to boost your business output.
According to a 2014 study by sales consultancy firm Kurlan & Associates of over 700,000 salespeople worldwide, only 6% are considered “elite”; 20% do well, but could probably do better; and no less than 74% are not up to par.
Of this percentage, Kurlan tells us that 25% are lost cases. And although these figures may be a little on the high side, there’s still a large percentage that can improve with a little guidance. And it’s this group with which we’ll focus on today.
So what are some of the main techniques to help close out those difficult sales?
Closing or outcome, the defining moment
Reaching an agreement with a client is not a simple A+B=C process. It has its moments. Actually, there are 5:
- Preparation or study.
- Determination and / or creation of needs.
- Treatment of objections.
Now we delve into these stage in a little more detail in other articles. The key thing to understand here is that the whole process is aimed at achieving closure and getting the customer to buy, sign, and essentially reach an agreement with your business.
However, even the best sales closing techniques fail if the customers’ interest isn’t piqued after a successful sales presentation and all possible objections have been refuted, or at least to them. So treat each phase with care.
Professional sales closing techniques
I understand there’s a wide range of closing techniques out there, built up through years of study and experience. But what I’m about to propose works, so pay close attention.
A few of you may raise an eyebrow at this one, but next time you’re sat with a client just ask them a question. A small, casual detail. The idea of this question is to give you power over the situation by assuming the sale is already closed. For example, imagine that the prospect has yet to confirm their willingness to buy, when you ask:
“So, where would you like the first batch delivered?”
Although it seems unlikely to work, direct closure has great potential when previous phases of the sale have been implemented correctly.
Closing the alternative
It consists of offering the potential buyer two options, of which they have to choose one. The trick is again that both assume that the purchase decision has already been made. `
For instance: “Suppose you decide to stay with the Mercedes A-Class; do you want it in silver or navy?”
As you can see, it blurs the line sperating the client from purchasing the product, even if just for a moment. These slight tactical manoeuvres can greatly influence the final buying decision in your favour.
This technique is to get as many positive responses from the prospect as possible. You must try and add as frequently and naturally as possible a postscript after each statement, a question such as: Isn’t it? Am I not right in thinking? Yes? No?
Let’s take a look at an example:
“In this day and age, having a provider with previous knowledge in your field is an advantage, do’nt you think?”
“Well yes, I suppose so.”
You must ask questions that frankly, it’s difficult to answer with a “no”. The idea is to build the maximum number of positive stimuli as possible. The more “yes’s” in the balance, the closer the customer will feel to a positive buying position.
Time is of the essence
This is an old trick. It is usually applied when you’re facing a potential client who is receptive to the idea of buying the product, but clearly isn’t in a hurry.
All they’re looking for is an excuse NOT to buy your product or service. And given this extra time, they will.
“Supplies of kitchen knives of this standard won’t last long. We already have a lot of interest from Kitchen X and we can all but guarantee there’ll be none left by end of quarter”
Here, the idea is to convey urgency to the prospect; make them feel faced with an opportunity where dawdling will only complicate matters.
The closure by mistake
As we’ve seen before, this technique requires the planting of the falsified seed of assumption in the client’s mind. To implement it, you should simulate a small error in the information that you are giving, or that the client has given you, as you can see in the following example:
“Very well, I see you’ve indicated here that you require the furniture by the 21st, right?”
“No, it would be after the 21st, that’s when they hand me the new keys.”
If the customer corrects you, you are tacitly assuming the deal has already been closed.
The imaginary closure
This strategy strengthens the idea of purchase in the customers mind while alleviating all pressure on them to do so.
By asking questions about hypothetical situations, the prospect imagines what life would be like with your product.
Here are a couple of examples:
“If you decide to choose this fishing equipment, do you plan on using it with your friends, or just your children,” or “If you decide to install an air conditioning unit, where will it be installed?”
Due to the hypothetical nature of the questions, the potential buyer does not feel pressured to commit, even though this thought process takes them one step closer to finalising a deal.
The Benjamin Franklin
So named as it’s said that Franklin, who besides being one of the political founders of the United States, was also a handy sales tactician.
The Benjamin Franklin is based on highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of your product or service to a client and is particularly useful when hope seems all but lost.
Before shaking hands and resigning yourself to defeat, ask for just a couple more minutes of their time. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns; to the left, write the reasons why they NEED to buy your product or service contract, to the right, a space for them to jot down any objections or obstacles they have with your product.
Now this bit’s important. Make sure to leave, just for a couple of minutes, to the bathroom or to grab a quick coffee to free up a little space in the room. Again it’s about removing pressure from the situation.
On your return, you’ll often see the right-hand column significantly smaller than yours along with their strongest objections. If you’re still unsuccessful in your refute, then at the very least you’ve come away with a list of potential areas to work on before you’re next sales presentation.