You’ve described your customer’s problem, provided a rock-solid value proposition, and demonstrated the urgency of the situation — but you keep hearing the same thing.
- “We’ll think about it.”
- “I need to talk to my manager.”
- “Our budget is pretty tight this quarter.”
What gives? You know your offering is good, but for one reason or another, they just won’t pull the trigger.
Contrary to popular opinion, products don’t sell themselves, no matter how good your CRM software is. Closing a sale is a tough technique to get right, one even the best in the business find to be a struggle.
Our best tips for how to close a sale successfully:
- Ask for the sale.
- Treat selling and closing as two different things.
- Ask early and often if they're ready to make a decision.
- Be prepared for objections.
- Ask them to just "give it a try."
- Be flexible when it comes to financing.
- Don’t buy the “we have no budget” excuse.
- Try a range of closing techniques.
- Be persistent.
- Be positive.
How to close a sale
Improving your close rate is simple in theory, but difficult in execution. However, it is within your grasp, provided you’re willing to commit yourself to change. If you want to be a good salesman, here are a few things you can do right now that will improve your sales process.
1. Ask for the sale
This may seem incredibly obvious, but you would be shocked at how many people deliver a great sales presentation only to balk at the opportunity to simply ask for the sale, hoping the client will take the initiative and offer to purchase right then and there.
As the salesperson, it’s your job to provoke action on the part of the buyer, and the first step is actually asking for the sale.
If you've spent time prospecting and managing this potential lead, being bashful when it comes time to ask for the client to sign on the dotted line can scuttle a great sales pitch. And, it will cause your sales pipeline to dry up.
Pro tip: Be direct with your request so there’s no ambiguity. Say something like, “If there are no further questions, I’ll go ahead and get the paperwork.”
2. Treat selling and closing as two different things
The reality is that selling and closing are two different animals. Tons of salespeople are great at the selling part — describing the problem, presenting the value proposition — but really struggle at the close.
"Selling the product is where the value proposition is made," says sales guru Grant Cardone. "closing the deal is where the agreement is made."
Chances are, if you struggle with closing, you're not asking for the sale at all, and if you are, you're doing it meekly. Be bold, and trust that your client is ready.
Pro tip: Practice your sales pitch and your closing techniques separately to remind you that they are two distinct phases of a sale.
3. Ask early and often if they're ready to make a decision
This is a great way to gauge if your client is ready to pull the trigger. It could be that you’re making progress, and your client is starting to buy into what you're selling, you just haven't taken them far enough down the road yet.
By asking if they're ready to make a decision, you can immediately determine if it's time to close, or if you need to spend more time selling. If you get a "no," just keep demonstrating your product's features, and revisit the question later.
Pro tip: Ask this early on in the sale. A lot of times, you've already convinced the client 10 minutes into your 30-minute presentation. By asking for the sale early, you can go for the close at that point and avoid boring a client with more information than he or she needs.
4. Be prepared for objections
Any salesperson hoping to hit those sales forecasting metrics must be prepared for the client’s objections. You've probably heard a few of them, such as "we don't have the budget for it," or "I'm afraid I can't make a decision on this today," but there are many more.
By deftly maneuvering around a customer’s objections, you’ll be able to get straight to the point, which is either a sale or a frank admission that you haven’t done enough to sell them on the product.
Either way, you’ve avoided simply being blown off without getting any vital information, which is what happens when salespeople aren’t able to navigate objections.
Pro tip: You should compile all the potential objections you might expect to hear when you attempt to close, and prepare responses in advance. Find someone to stand in as the client so you can rehearse with them.
5. Ask them to just “give it a try”
This is a favorite technique of sales expert and author Brian Tracy.
If the customer seems interested but is waffling on pulling the trigger, there's a good chance he or she really likes the product but has lots of doubts about budget and checking with the boss first.
A good way to deflect all of that is to remove the commitment. Tell them to just give it a try. Let them take it home right now, and promise to handle all the details.
Tracy says this is a key part of what he calls the "invitational close." Another way to word it is, "If you like it, why don't you take it?" When your client fails to think of a good reason, they often relent.
Pro tip: Have some paperwork drawn up that would allow you to transfer ownership immediately in case you need to use this close.
6. Be flexible when it comes to financing
Payment and financing should never be a sticking point when it comes to closing a sale.
The client can't afford the product? Put them on an affordable monthly payment plan that they can cancel anytime.
They don't want to pay that premium price tag? Offer a lower-cost version that still has some of the essential features.
If a customer wants a product, they will work with you on financing and price.
Pro tip: Find out which person or team in your company is authorized to make decisions on financing, and have a conversation with them to come up with ideas on what you can offer.
7. Don’t buy the “we have no budget” excuse
Don't believe clients who tell you their budget won't allow a purchase. People go over budget all the time — think about the last time you splurged on takeout when you know you should have cooked at home because you were already over budget on dining out for the month.
If a client is using budget as an excuse not to buy, you haven't made a good enough value proposition for them. Retrace your steps, make sure you understand their problem, and revisit your value proposition. Then, try the close again.
Pro tip: If you’re constantly getting budget objections, go back to the value proposition and ask what you need to do to demonstrate that your $30 product will bring $300 in value to the customer.
8. Try a range of closing techniques
You should have a number of sales closing questions and techniques at your disposal so you're not trying the same thing over and over again. After all, human beings are different and may respond more positively to different approaches, especially when comparing B2B sales with B2C. One client may immediately bite when you ask for the sale, while another may need to be offered a trial version of the product as a softer close.
You probably already have a few off the top of your head. Write those down, and come up with a few more. Practice them as much as you can, and continue to add to the list. Take notes on which ones work better than others.
Pro tip: Ask your colleagues for tips on what closing techniques they find work best.
9. Be persistent
Too many salespeople give up after one or two objections. In essence, clients are selling the salesperson on the idea that they can't buy.
However, there’s one simple truth when it comes to sales: If a client decides they need your product, they will find a way to buy. The close is how you get on the same page.
Don't be shy. Make a phone call. Send a follow-up email. As long as you’re respectful, and you're confident that the client is going to love the product, focusing on business development and persistently asking for the sale could eventually lead to a long and happy working relationship.
Pro tip: When you think the conversation is over, push yourself to ask for the sale just one more time.
10. Be positive
It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t make a sale, but remember: The average salesperson closes only a fraction of the time, and even rockstar closers typically don’t sell more than half the time, so striking out is just part of the game.
By staying positive, you can improve your close rate with clients. Customers want to buy from people who are positive — your confidence makes them trust the company you represent and, therefore, the product.
Pro tip: If a sale falls through, turn your attention immediately to the next opportunity, and don’t allow yourself to dwell on the past.
Prepare for your next close now
Don’t wait to implement these new techniques, because your close rate is not going to improve until you improve yourself. Increasing your odds of success is going to take some homework and preparation on your part. Follow these steps, and you could see your close rate jump almost overnight:
- Sit down and list every objection you’ve ever gotten from a potential customer while closing.
- Write down a simple response to each objection that affirms the client’s concerns but offers a reassuring answer (you should never disagree with the customer when closing).
- Find someone who can stand in as a client, give them some index cards with objections, and rehearse them until you can respond in your sleep.
- Take notes on how clients respond to these closing techniques so you can fine-tune your approach.
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