You nailed it!
You just delivered the most awesome sales pres – and it landed a treat!
But now what?
That awkward (but familiar) feeling starts to creep in as you look at your customer. They look at you, back at their partner, back at you…
And in your head your thinking “please say yes, please say yes, please say yes…”
The truth is that most people who are in sales are shitty closers.
For clarity’s sake, closing the sale is the industry term that simply means asking the customer for the business. It’s effectively a question (or statement) who’s answer will mean that the customer will choose you to help them solve their problem or deliver them some wonderful solution.
Reality is that most people in the critical moment (or range of moments) either say too much, not enough – or completely the wrong thing!
(RELATED: Need a presentation or sales pitch training for your high-value products and services? Check out the ‘Million Dollar Sales Pitch’ Video Masterclass and learn how to sell more by delivering a perfectly structured pitch that creates instant positive response from your customers in any industry niche.)
The reason is pretty simple – humans are simply coded to not like rejection, and when you close – there’s a chance that the customer might say “no”. A close second reason is that if you’re in the game of high value products and services ($5000+ average order value), you’ve probably spent a good deal of resources developing the opportunity – and a “no” might feel like that was all a waste.
So instead of elegantly controlling the moment, most business owners and sales people just flounder around until the customer says the inevitable, “let us think about it.”
Said differently, they don’t close.
(Secretly, this was what the sales person unconsciously wanted, because it means they get to continue to dream that this prospect will eventually turn into a sale – similar to how you might buy a lotto ticket and not check to see if you were the winner after the draw.)
This presents two obvious problems:
- Customers will (almost) never respond to this awkward moment with a non-provoked, “Shut-up, take my money, give me your thinggy!“
- No closing the sale = no money = that’s not a business, that’s a hobby
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Closing the sale is so important, every business owner should know how to close easily, effortlessly and elegantly.
As you’ll see, this is a very learnable skill when you learn the basic rules below.
Rules For Closing the Sale
Rule #1 – Always ask for the business.
The first and most important rule though is to ALWAYS ask for it, even if you don’t think that they will say yes. The most unforgivable habit of inexperienced business owners is when they present their product, service or idea (features, benefits, opportunity, return on investment etc), then make NO attempt to ask for the business.
Note: This is applicable to both offline and online selling. In the online world we call ’the close’ a ‘call to action’ or CTA.
(Related: If right now you’re thinking, “That’s great DC, but how the f#%k do I ask for the business?” Don’t fret – I wrote this follow up article to give you the “11 Ways to Ask For the Business” – enjoy)
Rule #2 – Hard closing is for amateurs
We’ve talked about how people don’t like rejection and so avoid confrontation. So what stops people from learning to be more persuasive in closing the sale to reduce the rejection?
It’s often because of the misconception that ALL closing is hard closing.
Hard closing is when you get to the end of your under-cooked presentation, the customer is clearly not ready to buy, but the salesperson uses pressure tactics to force the outcome anyway. This might include misuse of time constraints, emotional blackmail and other dirty tricks that tarnish an otherwise honourable industry (yeah, I said it – come at me haters!)
Note: Hard closing is NEVER an acceptable strategy for professional communicators and marketers. Hard closing is never required if you follow the 5 steps of successful selling because by the end of the process, you will have a prospect who is ready buy (gentle close), or knowing that it’s not for them (referral / future follow up).
If you find yourself at the end of your presentation and you feel you need to “hard close”, it simply means that you haven’t completed the other steps adequately. The best closes in the world (below) are gentle, authentic and very, very simple.
Rule #3 – Know their reasons before you close
If you don’t know why the deal makes sense for your prospect, you are not ready to start closing the sale.
Where many salespeople make the mistake of trying to push their own values or reasons to buy onto the customer, a professional communicator is taking all the time in the world to listen and understand their prospects’ deepest pain points and problems. When you know the key motivations of your prospect, you are ready to match your solution in the close.
When we’re selling a technology solution, this may mean understanding how our prospect’s business makes money, how they invest it, and what their future aspirations are for their brand and shareholders.
When we sell residential solar systems, we need to understand our prospects’ priorities i.e.. safety for their kids living under the installation, return on investment, warranties, aesthetics on the roof etc.
Tip: Listen more, talk less and keep asking “why” until you really understand their needs and drivers.
Rule #4 – Seed from the start
We’re taught from an early age that talking about money is anywhere from uncomfortable to impolite.
In the sales and marketing game, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that your prospect knows that you are discussing something that has a value, and if they are considering owning that value for themselves, it’s going to come at a cost. AND THAT’S OKAY!!
If you leave the money conversation to the end in the close, you leave a massive opportunity for your momentum to be derailed if the price is way too high / too low. The best way to tackle this conundrum is to seed.
‘Seeding’ is to casually embed key information in your language right from the start, so that the prospect is familiar with the info when the time is right later in the presentation.
For example, seeding the cost of your product is an elegant way to unconsciously prepare the prospect for the actual price when you get that point in the presentation. Alternatively, if you wait until you’re closing the sale to bring up the cost and it lands well – you may get to have a rational conversation about it (negotiate). But if it lands poorly – you’re toast.
Example: “…and John, it doesn’t matter if you get a cheap and nasty solution that you have to replace in 3 years, or you spend $30k on a market leading, top-of-the-line system. At the end of the day it’s about the system that makes the most sense to you, so we’ll look at that today too.”
This is the exact script that we developed for one of our companies that consults on home solar energy solutions. The above script is delivered literally in the first 2 mins of an hour-and-a-half presentation and perfectly sets up a price point that could be anywhere from $8k to $25k later in the presentation.
Is it starting to make sense?
Note: I’ve sneakily seeded some credibility points into this article about industries we’ve worked and absolutely smashed results in – can you find ’em?
Rule #5 – Don’t close too early
Influence happens in an instant and people decide to buy in a split second. However setting up this moment in time and space is the real game.
That moment (known as the transition instant or trigger zone) that someone has an emotional shift from “maybe” to “let’s do this” is a critical experience for the sale to be solid and lasting. When salespeople try to close or negotiate on the ‘little parts’ before all parties establish an overall agreed outcome, it will usually drive a wedge between themselves and the customer (a break in rapport) and ultimately undermine the process as a whole.
Take the time, clarify the details – ADDRESS ALL ELEPHANTS – then the close will be the natural progression of the conversation.
Some people say that in any linguistic encounter, it’s all about “closing the sale”. To an extent – it is. All the hard work, appropriate language and control of a customer interaction is worth nothing if you can’t ask for the business. Remember, the whole point of a business is the close.
But being a “closer” is not just about being able to close. It’s far more about the gentle balance of all the rules listed above – but also (and particularly) CONNECTING with your customer and make it all look easy…
In the next article we’ll go through some powerful language tools which will make closing the sale very easy. Just remember, these tools are only to be used with ethics and integrity and only to help someone to break through barriers that have been holding them back from making good decisions.
Bonus Tip: When closing the sale, as in every part of the interaction, controlling your tonality is key. Many salespeople make the tragic mistake of getting excited by seeing the finish line, and leave their customer in a state of overwhelm and uncertainty. To avoid this from happening, avoid any tone of absolute certainty by collapsing into reasonableness and calmness.
Did you like this article? Leave me a comment below and tell me about it. The universe rewards those who contribute 😉
In part two [of two] of this article, I’m going to give you the most potent closing scripts I’ve learned from working with the world’s most effective sales experts.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your copy of ‘The Million Dollar Sales Pitch’ sales masterclass. Save over 90% on this year’s best selling program.
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Discover Coaching Coaching Programs are tailored to each individual and align tactical, strategic and visionary leadership styles to reach both Professional and Personal milestones. DC is fully certified for the use of both proprietary (Neuro Linguistic Programming, TimeLine Therapy ®, Straight Line System) and authored custom programs (How to Boil an Egg, Million Dollar Sales Pitch, Mass Persuasion – Complete Sales Mastery, Coaches Collection).
David Cervelli is a certified NLP Master Practitioner and Coach with the ABNLP and ABH.