In business there is a saying that is often attributed to salespeople. ABC – always be closing. The truth of the matter is that if you aren’t closing, you don’t have a sale. There are a mountain of books and notes dedicated to the art of selling. You always have to get your foot in the door before you make the sale happen. A lot of things can go wrong between the time you pitch and the time you try and close the sale. So while you have to learn a lot about the process of getting the actual sale and talking up your product to the client, closing the sale is the most important part. We asked several entrepreneurs and business owners for their tips and opinions how they close a sale.
Making a sale requires a lot of talk between the client and salesperson. For Bill Rosenthal of Communispond, asking ‘suppose’ questions is the key to closing a sale. “Rather than ask for the order, ask a series of “suppose” questions that are comfortable for the customer to answer. Example: “If you were to go ahead with this plan, how would you begin?” The key word here is “if,” because it allows the customer to envision a start-up program without feeling pressured. It's useful to ask questions throughout the sales process. Socratic taught his students to ask questions to help the other person consider new options- and the process is just as useful in selling as it is in any other kind of dialogue. Asking a question rather than making a statement also is useful when a customer makes a counter-offer the salesperson must refuse. Rather than counter the counter-offer the salesperson asks, “Would you like to talk about an approach that might work really well?” Rarely does a customer turn down that suggestion.”
Another option to making sure you can get the sale closed is by acting as though you have technically already made the sale. For executive coach Mike Harden it helps a lot, “I have done this for years, and I train all of my clients on how to do it…It's the “presumptive close.” In a presumptive close, you assume you have the deal, and begin to act that way. You start asking the prospect when they want it delivered, you start working out the schedule for installation, who will be involved, etc. You keep treating the prospect as if the contract is already signed and you are just working out all the details. Soon, it becomes a *fait accompli* to the prospect, and he/she begins to think of you as if you had won the deal and are now working with them. Getting a signature from them after this is simply a detail.”
The most important part of getting the deal inked is by simply making sure the product is the right fit for your client, says Megan Dougherty of Firepole Marketing. “The most important part of closing a sale happens well before you ever get to “signing on the bottom line.” It's really about establishing fit. If you have a product or solution that genuinely solves a potential customer’s needs – than the onus is on you to communicate that fact in a way that is honest and clear. If you do – there is no reason for them NOT to purchase it from you. The more you know about your customer, and their needs – the easier closing a sale becomes. Take the time before starting the buying discussion to talk to your customers, and learn how they self-identify their problems. If you come to them using their own language – communication about the benefits of your solution is a simple matter, and you'll be in a position to quickly and easily manage their objections.”
No matter what approach you take to closing a sale you should always have a few extra cards in the back of your pocket for that ‘what if’ moment that could happen. Knowing a lot of different ways to close a deal can save you a lot of trouble when it comes down to getting that name on the dotted line. Each salesperson has his or her technique for getting the sale closed and all entrepreneurs and other salespeople can learn the tricks of the trade from those with a long history of sales under their belt.