By: Thomas Young
The final step in the sales process is the close. Despite what you might have read or heard about sales, this step should be easy and quick. It is the cumulative effect of all your hard work during the first three steps of prospecting, qualifying and presenting. If there is no sale at this point, then something was missed in your presentation or qualifying stages. The sale will happen only after you do your job effectively during the entire sales process. Following are the critical points to remember when closing a sale.
Ask for the Sale: Trial Closes
Always ask for the prospect’s business. This is best done with trial closes and in honest discussions with the prospect. A trial close is a final qualifier that brings you a step closer to closing or determining the key concerns of the customer. An example of a trial close is, “Mr. Customer, are you ready to buy today?” or “Do you think we should go ahead and get started right away?” Trial closes are usually questions that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No.” If the prospect responds with a “No,” ask, “Why?” If the prospect says “Yes,” you have a sale.
It is important to ask for the sale at the appropriate time. Attempting to close too early can put the client on the defensive and jeopardize your sale. For this reason, it is important for you to recognize where you are in the four-step selling process. Do not jump ahead. There should be no surprises at this point. Often times, the customer expects you to ask for his or her business and will wait for you to take the initiative. You should always ask for the sale following your presentation.
Closing Techniques are a Thing of The Past
Forget closing “techniques.” There is no substitute for the hard work that takes place in the sales process. Do not look for magic bullets or quick fixes. In fact, a customer will see through these tactics and probably delay the sale or end the process altogether. If he or she is not ready to buy, you are not yet at the closing stage.
Follow the Four-Step Selling Process
The four-step sales process of prospecting, qualifying, presenting and closing should be learned and implemented until it becomes second nature. The key is to know which step of the sales process you are in and follow effective guidelines to reach your sales goals. Be aware that the four steps can become intertwined and mixed together during the sales process. This is especially true of qualifying and presenting.
Before you begin selling, carefully plan out your activities in each of the four areas. Prepare a checklist of information for each step. Target those customers most likely to buy. Prepare a feature/benefits worksheet, script and set objectives for each step. Write down a list of probing questions and gather information to determine benefits that appeal to customers. Research and understand the customer’s business and related issues. Determine materials to use in presentations and practice your pitch. Be ready for objections and know your competitive advantage. Ask advice of your prospects and build a relationship with them. Cultivate even the brief conversations you may have and use these interactions to build your knowledge base.
Make Closing More Profitable
When possible, focus on selling high price point products and services. It takes about the same amount of energy to sell high price point products and services as it does to sell more inexpensive products. Yet, the rewards are higher with more expensive products. Successful sales people usually sell high-ticket items. Low-priced items do not usually produce high rewards, unless sold in large quantities.
Most sales people never ask for the sale. Be the exception and always move toward closing by asking for the business and following the four-step selling process of prospecting, qualifying, presenting and closing.
Tom Young, MBA is a sales trainer and marketing consultant in Colorado Springs helping companies increase revenues.