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Closing the Deal

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Successful salespeople do not give a presentation and then ask for the order. Successful salespeople cultivate selling techniques that help develop an instinct, sensitivity and timing for when and how to close with each buyer. This section wraps up our discussion of the main sales presentation element. We begin by discussing when to close, showing examples of buying signals and discussing what makes a good closer.

Next, we discuss the number of times you should attempt to close a sale, along with some problems associated with closing. Eleven closing techniques are presented followed by an explanation of the importance of being prepared to close several times based on the situation.

To be a good closer, you must be able to handle objections. Objections frequently arise as the salesperson nears the end of the presentation, as in the case of John and after the close, as experienced by Lisa. However, as Ralph found out, price objection can pop up anytime.

While there are many factors to consider in closing the sale, the following items are essential if you wish to improve your chances:

  • Be sure your prospect understands what you say.
  • Always present a complete story to ensure understanding.

Tailor your close to each prospect. 80% of your customers will respond to a standard close. It is the other 20% of customers that you need to prepare for. Prepare to give the expert customer all facts requested to give the egotistical customer praise, to lead the indecisive customer and to slow down for a slow thinker.

Step 1 - Reading Buying Signals

After prospects negotiate each stage of the mental buying process and are ready to buy, they often give you a signal. A buying signal refers to anything that prospects say or do indicate they are ready to buy. Buying signals hint that prospects are in the conviction stage of the buying process. Here are several ways prospective buyers signal readiness to buy:

Ask questions – “How much is it?” “What is the earliest time that I can receive it?” “What are your service and returned goods policies?” At times, you may respond to a buying signal question with another question. This helps determine your prospect’s thoughts and needs. If your question is answered positively, the prospect is showing a high-interest level and you are nearing the close.

Asks another person’s opinion – The executive calls someone on the telephone and says, “Come in here a minute; I have something to ask you,” or the husband turns to his wife and says, “What do you think about it?”

Relaxes and become friendly – Once the prospect decides to purchase a product, the pressure of the buying situation is eliminated. A state of visible anxiety changes to relaxation because your new customer believes that you are a friend.

Pulls out a purchase order form – If, as you talk, your prospect pulls out an order form, it is time to move toward the close.

Carefully examines merchandise – When a prospect carefully scrutinises your product or seems to contemplate the purchase, this may be an indirect request for prompting. Given these indications, attempt a trial close; “What do you think about it?” If you obtain a positive response to this question, move on to close the sale.

A buyer may send verbal or nonverbal buying signals at any time before or during your sales presentation. The accurate interpretation of buying signals should prompt you to attempt a trial close. In beginning a trial close, summarise the major selling points desired by your prospect. If you receive a positive response to the trial close, you can wrap up the sale. A negative response should result in a return to your presentation or to determine objections. In any case, a successful trial close can save you and your prospect valuable time, while a thwarted trial close allows you to assess the selling situation.

Good closers have a strong desire to close each sale. They have a positive attitude about their product’s ability to benefit the prospect. They know their customers and tailor their presentations to meet each person’s specific needs.

Good closers prepare for each sales call. They take the time to carefully ascertain the needs of their prospects and customers by observing, asking intelligent questions and most of all, by earnestly listening to them. To be successful, salespeople should know their ABCs. ABC is an acronym for Always Be Closing. Be alert for closing signals and close when the prospect is ready to buy.

The successful salesperson does not stop with the prospect’s first no. If a customer says no, determine the nature of the objection and then return to the presentation. After discussing information relative to overcoming the objection, use a trial close to determine if you have overcome the objection and then determine if there are other objections. If resistance continues, remain positive and remember that every time you attempt to close, you are closer to the sale. In addition, always ask for the order and then be silent.

Body Language Gives You Clues:

From birth, people learn to communicate their needs, likes and dislikes through nonverbal means. The salesperson can learn from a prospect’s raised eyebrow, a smile, a touch, a scowl or reluctance to make eye contact during a sales presentation. The prospect can communicate with you literally without uttering a word. The ability to interpret these signals is an invaluable tool to the successful sales professional. In conjunction with the interpretation of body language, the salesperson’s skilful use and control of physical actions, gestures and overall body position also are helpful.

The buyer can send nonverbal signals via five communication modes. They are the body angle, facial expression, arm movement or position, hand movements or position and leg position. These modes generally send three types of messages:

  • Acceptance
  • Caution
  • Disagreement

Step 2 - Ask for the Order

No matter when or how you close, remember that when you ask for the order, it is important to be silent. Do not say a word. If you say something – anything – you increase the probability of losing the sale.

You must put the prospect in a position of having to make a decision, speak first and respond to the close. If you say anything after your close, you take the pressure off the prospect to make that decision.

Imagine this situation: The salesperson has finished the presentation and says, “Would you want this delivery in two or four weeks?” The average salesperson cannot wait more than two seconds for the prospect’s reply without saying something like, “I can deliver it anytime.” or starting to talk again about the product. This destroys the closing moment. The prospect does not have to make the decision. There is time to think of reasons not to buy. By keeping quiet for a few seconds, the prospect cannot escape making the decision.

All individuals experience the urge to say no, even when they are not sure of what you are selling or when they may want what you propose. At times, everyone is hesitant in making a decision. To help the prospect make the decision, you must maintain silence after the close.

The professional salesperson can stay quiet all day, if necessary. Rarely will the silence last over 30 seconds. During that time, do not say anything or make a distracting gesture merely project positive nonverbal signs. Otherwise, you will lessen your chances of making the sale. This is the time to mentally prepare your response to the prospect’s reaction.

It sounds simple, yet it is not. Your stomach may churn. Your nerves make you want to move. You may display a serious look on your face instead of a positive one. You may look away from the buyer. Most of all, you may want to talk to relieve the uncomfortable feeling that grows as silence continues. Finally, the prospect will say something. Now, you can respond based on the reaction to your close.

Constantly practice asking your closing question, staying silent for 30 seconds and then responding. This will develop your skill and courage to close.

Step 3 - Get the Order – The Move On

Talking also can stop the sale after the prospect has said yes. An exception would be if you ask the customer for the names of other prospects. Once this is done, it is best to take the order and move on.

In continuing to talk, you may give information that changes the buyer’s mind. So, ask for the order and remain silent until the buyer responds. If you succeed, finalise the sale and leave.