One of the questions I often get asked in sales training seminars by salespeople and business owners wanting help with closing the sale is, “How do I close more sales and what closing techniques would you recommend?”
In my experience, closing the sale is one of the three most feared areas of the sales process. The other two are fear of canvassing (cold calling) and fear of objections. But the real question is, what is it about these three that creates such a fear? Especially, when even some of the most successful sales professionals face challenges in one or more of these three areas.
The answer is simple – fear of rejection. Humans are social animals and the fear of rejection is one of the primary human drivers so it takes a different line of thought to face this issue. Mere techniques will not suffice.
There are books about closing the sale with hundreds of different types of sales closes in. There are hundreds of different sales training programmes out there focused on closing the sale. Some are great examples, some are awful but all of them have one thing in common. They are just examples. They are often not usable as “off the shelf” solutions for your sales scenarios because they each represent a model and that model only works if the person you are dealing with is “running” a similar model in their personality and if your situation is nearly the same too!
Now, I am not saying don’t study about sales. Infact, quite the opposite. I do recommend that you read everything you can about sales and human communications because you will learn more about sales and communications in that way than from virtually any other. What you learn however may not always be what the author intended as you should be a student of human behaviour and influence, not beholden to any one particular book! When Bruce Lee studied kung fu he took the best of each style of kung fu and designed a new art which had no set forms. This new style was flexible so that it could try to be the most effective for each and every situation. A good sales professional will be aiming to achieve the same.
The first sales training tactic for closing the sale is to change the words that you use. Why not “ask for the business” or “take the order” or “provide a solution” instead? These words don’t create the same fear. I have tested this on thousands of salespeople. Removing the word that the fear is associated with removes the fear too. If anyone has read Anthony Robbin’s material he describes how you can only experience feelings that you have words for and that words only have the meaning that you ascribe to them. He describes how, because the quality of snow is important to their survival, Eskimos have dozens of different words for snow but we just have very few. Their experience of snow is different than ours and we cannot comprehend that because we have no words to describe it.
Secondly, it is important that you start with the end in mind. Whenever you go to a client sales meeting, sales presentation or sales negotiation think through it in your head first. Think about what outcome you want from the sales meeting or sales call and think through the possible ways this might occur. Think also of what the minimum outcome is that you are prepared to accept from the sales meeting or sales call. When you have built rapport, asked questions, uncovered your clients’ needs and provided a solution it’s only natural to ask for the business. After all, you have provided a solution so asking for the business is the next step! Why would you accept less than your minimum acceptable behaviour from the client?
I once worked with a talented sales professional. He was great at prospecting, built elegant and effective rapport and uncovered client needs effortlessly but he wasn’t closing many sales. In a short sales coaching session I discovered that he disassociated the sales process from “closing” hence he would “do the meeting” and then think, “Oh dear! Now I need to close!”. Cue panic. His customers could see it and the sale was lost, every time. He was in “sales” mode and they were resisting. He was a nice guy so it was easier to walk away than risk rejection or upsetting the client by closing the sale!
Simply by viewing the sale as one seamless process with a natural conclusion he was able to see the “time-line” and “path” of the sale and achieved more sales success. If the client deviated from this he was able to maintain control and bring them back on track. He achieved a sales breakthrough in closing the sale, literally overnight.
At this point, I might add that you must remain flexible. There will be times when you cannot close the sale for unexpected reasons. On these occasions, it is important that you assess your performance objectively. Ask yourself whether next time you could ask better sales questions to uncover the unexpected situation earlier and help you closing the sale. If the answer is “no” then reset your objective for the client sales meeting. If the answer is “yes” then take on board what you have to learn and reset the objective for your next meeting. But, and this is very important, always remember to set a new objective for the meeting.
When was the last time you heard this conversation:
“How was the sales meeting?”
“How did you get on?”.
“Oh, great I think he / she will use us!”.
My next question for you is, ”So what’s the next step?”
This should have been agreed, with time-scales with the client. If it hasn’t then you haven’t reached your objective. Maybe this was because you didn’t set one or you didn’t achieve it but this sales meeting was not “great”!
Lets face it, you work hard to find clients and get that all important meeting with them and you listen hard to understand their true needs not your perceived ones. When you provide a sales solution that matches their needs they are expecting you to “ask for the business”. When this becomes a relaxed, natural part of the meeting you will achieve more success closing the sale and win more business.
To make sure you never miss one of my articles again join my success newsletter today. It’s full of tips, tools and strategies and it’s free!