The Art and Science of Closing
Top-performing sales reps recognize that closing is both art and science. It requires carefully balancing moving the sales process forward without being pushy (or coming across that way). To successfully close requires being able to read the customer’s buying signs correctly, have identified the solution for the buyer’s specific needs, and addressed indicated concerns and objections. It also means recognizing that closing isn’t a one-step asking for the sale. Instead, it’s a multi-step process that – perhaps most importantly – doesn’t signify the sale is done, even if the customer says yes.
- Summarize the journey to the point.
Whether a complex, long B2B cycle or a high-velocity, short cycle, when you’re ready to close, you should start it by summarizing. Specifically, you’re identifying the mutually agreed-upon best solution and highlighting how it will solve the customer’s specific problems or achieve specific goals.
The reason you do this is to gain final confirmation and agreement that this all sounds correct. It also helps alleviate any lingering anxiety about the purchase. If the customer raises objections or disagrees with you, abort the close and cycle back to handle the objection – you’ve missed something earlier in the process.
- Secure commitment to move forward.
Once you’ve summarized and everything checks out, shift to advocating for your proposed solution. Highlight how the features and benefits of your recommendation explicitly address or resolve the buyer’s identified desires, needs, and challenges.
For example, say something like, “We’ve talked about how you’re looking to reduce your delivery time. With our Roadrunner level of service that includes expedited package processing, we estimate you can reduce delivery time of products to your buyers by 25%.”
After you’ve advocated and outlined the reasons why your proposal is the best solution for the buyer, ask for the commitment directly. Whether it’s something like, “Are you ready to move forward?” or “Should I put the order in for you?”, clearly demonstrate that you’re asking for the sale.
- Outline the next steps.
One of the biggest causes of stalled sales close to the finish line is the failure of sales reps to clearly outline next steps during the closing process – who needs to do what and when – with clear expectations. Therefore, once you’ve secured the commitment, be explicit in outlining what the next steps are.
As an example, something like, “I’ll email the PDF of the service contract by the end of the day today. Please sign and have it to me by Monday next week. Next Tuesday the 26th, one of our implementation specialists will reach out to your Vice President of Logistics to start the conversion process from your previous vendor to us.”
- Obtain agreement and confirmation on next steps.
Once you’ve outlined what the next steps are, ask if there any questions about said steps and gain agreement. It can be something as simple as, “Do these next steps work for you?”
This might seem a superfluous step. It isn’t. It serves three functions: 1) Your customer shows they understand the process, 2) Your buyer has greater confidence in the purchase because they know what’s taking place, and 3) You’re strengthening the relationship by being transparent about the process and acting in a consultative manner.
As you can see, closing is neither the endpoint of the sales process, nor is it just a single ask. It’s a multistep process that, when completed, boosts buyer confidence and improves the buyer-seller relationship.
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