Sales Season Part 8: Closing the sale

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3 March 2017
Written by Speak First Linked-in icon

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Closing gets a bad press. With so many techniques and ‘cheesy’ closing strategies in play, choosing the wrong one can erode trust and ultimately cost you a sale. If you’ve managed to match the client’s buying process, satisfied any objections and shown your value then closing should be simple, and should be no more complicated than asking them for commitment.

We will explain some of the different techniques out there, and they all have merit, but be careful about using them because if you’re caught using one they may feel you’re not selling with good intentions.

The Suggestion Close

On the occasion when the buyer requires a little gentle persuasion a suggestion along the following lines may be all that is required:

‘Can I suggest that we put this on the yes pile so we can look at other areas/ business/ products where we can work together?

The Assumption Close

The customer’s manner, body language or his comments may indicate to you that the decision to buy has already been made.

Use expressions like ‘‘is there any of our other product’s you would like to go with this?’  The customer answering any of the questions positively is giving you the sale.

The assumption technique means not having to ask the customer a direct question about the purchase.  This gives him the chance to make a painless decision.

Alternative Close

This is probably the most popular technique of all.  The idea is to offer two options to the customer in such a way that the buyer chooses between two positive alternatives.

‘Would you prefer August’s or September’s issue?’

 ‘Do you want a primary or secondary page/listing?’

‘Is it just the one issue/listing you would like?’

In general, the customer responds by either selecting one of the options or by saying ‘I haven’t decided I want to buy yet’.  In which case, try to find out what itis holding them back’.

The Isolation Technique

This close is highly effective and applies to all types of service where the customer has the opportunity to choose from a large selection of products.  Rather than confusing the customer with the entire range, the salesperson, having assessed the buyer’s needs, selects three of the items that most suit their requirements.  The salesperson then proceeds to eliminate, with the customer’s agreement, the least attractive proposition.  By following the same process, he then eliminates the next item by explaining why it’s the least attractive of the two remaining, isolating the only remaining option.

‘Of the 3 items, which do you prefer least?

Of the 2 items which is less appealing?

Close the deal

The Active Close

This is a particularly effective technique and can be used when the customer’s reaction appears to be neutral.  The idea is to ask a question and to follow it up with an appropriate movement. 

A retailer may say ‘Would you like me to wrap this for you?’  At the same time the retailer moves towards the till followed, in many cases, by the customer.  Once the buyer starts discussing how they want it wrapped, the sale is made.

The Concession Sale – last carrot

Every product on the market will be sold on the basis that the product or the company possess one ‘unique selling point’.  This may be in the form of a free gift, a money back guarantee, special introductory offer or perhaps a combination of ‘carrots’.  These are all designed to induce the customer to buy. The key is to keep something up your sleeve and produce it only when it’s going to make the biggest impact.  Remember the close is the time the customer is making up his mind and anything that will help him decide favourably must be used at that point. ‘I can include a month’s cover free of charge.’

Narrative Close

This close consists of telling the customer a story that relates specifically to their concerns.  Many customers follow the examples of other people who have bought and been happy.  The purpose of this technique is to encourage the buyer to see themselves as having made a wise purchase.

‘Some other people have had the same concerns as you, but when they took the item home they were so delighted that they recommended us to their friends/ clients’.

Only use this technique if your offer is genuine.

The ‘Next Steps’ close

 This is a great technique to apply once you know a true match has been achieved. The idea is that you don’t close at all, the ‘done deal’ is assumed and discussion moves on to what will happen next. For example, the following questions are really good next steps closers:

 “Who should our technical team liaise with regarding the installation?”

 “What specific dates do you have in mind?”

 “Who in your office should I discuss the implementation details with?”

The ‘Puppy Dog’ close

 Imagine that your dog had a litter of 12 puppies. You desperately want to find homes for them. You could approach people and ask: “Do you want a puppy?” This may or may not work. Alternatively you could approach a friend and say: “Look, I’m going on holiday for a week and I was wondering, do you think you could do me a real big favour and look after my puppy for me while I’m gone?” If they agree, what are you banking on? You’re hoping your friend will fall in love with the cute little puppy so much that they’ll plead with you to keep it!

 The ‘puppy dog’ close then follows the same principle. It usually takes the form of a trial offer or a money back guarantee. For this close to work it must fit the nature of your specific product or service and, of course, it must have the qualities which allow someone to fall in love with it!

For us, the most well-received technique is The ‘Direct’ close.

 Sometimes, in the real world, we simply just have to ask for the business! Again, there should be no real fear factor if we’ve handled the meeting okay up to this point. The following questions are examples:

"It seems that you’re happy with what we’ve discussed, shall we book you in? “

“Is it okay for us to go ahead and install next week?”

“Would you like to go ahead?”

“Shall I put you down for the 15 terminals we’ve discussed?”

Good luck in applying your learning. Although the close is the most nerve-wracking point for a lot of people, if you go through the right steps in the meeting and move the prospect to the point where they are receptive and ready to buy, the close should be the simplest thing in the world. 

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