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Closing Techniques Explained

sales closing techniques

Closing is a skillset that every sales professional needs to master in order to not just successfully achieve their target/quota, but to do this consistently. Multiple closing techniques can be used to win the sale, so having more than one technique in your sales armoury will position you well as you approach the end of the sales process.

The closing stage of a reps sales pipeline can be daunting, especially for new hires reaching this milestone for the first time as it leaves the sales professional in a vulnerable position where there could be a chance of rejection from the prospect. The key is to make sure you have done a great job through the earlier stages which should put you in a position to just nudge the prospect into the close. However this will not always be the case, so let’s have a look at some closing techniques that can be used in different scenarios to help you push the sale over the line.

1. The Assumptive Close

Probably the most common closing technique used in sales today. The assumption close works if you have completed all steps of the sales process successfully and have the right to assume the sale is a done deal. If you have not been successful in prospecting, discovery, delivering the right product and value in your demonstration or answered the objections satisfactorily, then this close can simply turn into a pretentious push.

When deploying this technique, you should continually assume that the buyer will become a customer from the very beginning, so that when you get to the proposal or closing stage it’s all about when the prospect will start using the product or service. You will feel confident in saying to the buyer sentences such as “Now that we have confirmed everything, how does Tuesday work for delivery?” or “OK great, well the good news is we can have this all in place for you by Friday this week!”

2. The Now or Never Close

Also referred to as the “The Urgency Close” this is where you put pressure on the prospect to make a purchase. For example, if you have offered the prospect a discount during the proposal stage, you would use this to push the close. If the buyer  said “Let’s catch up next week” you would respond “Ok no problem, but I have to let you know that the discount we applied in your proposal will only be available to purchases made this week. I don’t want you to miss out.”

In this technique you are putting a time limit on the purchase and the fear of the prospect missing out pushes the sale across the line. You have to be certain this close technique will be successful otherwise you will see yourself back tracking to win the sale a week later. This can cause the prospect to lose trust and credibility in you and all the hard work put into getting the prospect to the final stage maybe for nothing.

3. The Takeaway Close

This close is exactly that. You take away from the negotiations in order to close the sale. It works better when you’re deep into the closing stage of the sales pipeline, you have worked out and provided the proposal to the prospect, discounts and/or special terms may have been laid out, but the prospect is still not signing and holding out for more. The next part takes confidence and resilience from your end to say, for example, “I would really like to get you where you need to be, but I am at my limit on this offer and the only way to bring the price down is to take items away.” The information you have retrieved from the buyer throughout the sales process comes into play here as you start to remove the features or benefits you know are the most important to bring the price down, these need to be individually addressed and the buyer needs to know what they will miss out on and what the repercussions would be. This close works when your prospect does not want to lose out on all the features and benefits of the full package and your knowledge from the phone calls and meetings will be paramount for this close to work.

The Takeaway Close will only work if there are a few items on the ticket or deal, different packages or inventory options as an example. You need to be confident that the prospect wants the full package and for this close to be successful you will need to hold firm when discounts are requested. The purpose of the close will be defeated if you go straight back to discount selling. This close should be a win-win, if you hold firm and close the sale at the higher price there is more towards your quota, but if you end up having to offer a small addition you still get the sale.

4. The Columbo Close

This close is named after the classic detective series and one of my favourite shows growing up (I still watch it now). The Columbo close is based on the famous line Columbo would say to the murder suspect when he/she thought the detective was done questioning them. Columbo would then turn around and say “One more thing” and what he would say next would strike a verbal blow upon the suspect.

This works for sales reps in the same way. When you’re speaking with a prospect and everything has been discussed with the client, but no confirmed sale or next action has been agreed have a meaningful question ready to ask them before you leave. Examples could be “Just one more thing, what would you say is the main factor when making your final decision?” or “Just one more thing, what’s more important to you low price or high value?” or “just one more thing, how did we compare to your current supplier?”

These are all open-ended questions which will allow you to potential uncover hidden feelings and also could reopen the conversation and extend the meeting. The answer might not always be what you want to hear. They may say they will never leave their current provider, but by uncovering the reason you can better prepare to revisit that prospect at a later date and, if the same happens with other prospects, you will be better set to handle them.

5. The Summary Close

This close works when you have gone through an extensive evaluation over a period of time. Sales professionals using the summary close will reiterate items discussed and laid out in the proposal by stressing the value and benefits of the offering to ease the prospect towards the finish line. An example would be “We have the three piece suit in gunshot grey, the tailored footrest with built in storage, complete with a two year warranty and nothing to pay for the first six months. We can delivery that free for you, shall we say Thursday morning?”

By summarising the points previously agreed and articulating the package, you’ll help the prospect visualise exactly what they are getting from the deal. Making sure you emphasise specific features or benefits they have highlighted as key is critical as this will excite the buyer and hopefully make them want the product or service sooner rather than later.

6. The Puppy Dog Close

This technique is also referred to as the Emotional Close. Based around the concept that when you walk into a pet store the owner shows you the puppies they have to sell, then you would look into a puppy’s sweet, cute little eyes and fall in love with it, and that would be that. You would become attached and never want to give that puppy back.

The same rules apply with products and services and it’s something a lot of companies use today. Quite simply you allow the prospect to trial the solution, confident in the fact that once they have tried it they will want to buy it.

In order for this to be completely successful you need to make sure you have done an in-depth discovery and that the potential customer is fully qualified. If you give them a solution that is not 100% what they want then you can pretty much say goodbye to the sale, they won’t fall in love with it and they will not want to keep trying different versions until it’s right. Credibility is key to this close.

7. The Option Close

A very straight forward closing technique in which you would supply multiple options to a prospect and allow them to choose the most suitable based on your explanation. It’s important to keep these options to a maximum of 2 or 3, but no more and will of course only work for companies with multiple packages or price brackets.

Keep this close nice and simple. After you have supplied the proposal they should have everything in writing, so it will be easy for them to picture and understand your explanation. Layout all the details and include how they meet the buyers needs and end goals. The skill here is to ascertain by the prospects demeanour which one they are more keen on and pull those strings. Once everything has been discussed then you need to ask for the business.

Tips: You have completed a thorough discovery during the sales process so be confident that one of the options you have provided is perfect for the prospect. Do not offer more than three options, ideally two. You don’t want to overwhelm the buyer. Be prepared to action changes to the proposal on the spot, you shouldn’t need to, but it´s good to have a plan B ready. Finally make sure you ask them to buy.

8. The Sharp Angle Close

This technique also referred to “If I – Will You Close” is best used when the buyer is most likely to buy, but they bring one main objection, typically in the way of a challenge. They may want to test the water to see how much they can push, this could be in the form of a discount, a specific delivery objective or an issue they would like resolved.

The sharp angle is when they bring this objection and as long as it can be met you would respond “of course no problem. If I can guarantee X are you ready to move forward today?” If the customer responds yes, then the deal is effectively closed. If they provide a different response then you know there are other issues to resolve and, once you are able to clarify these, you’d ask the same question again. If you receive another negative response then is likely they may not be serious about making a purchase.

9. The Suggestion Close

In order for this technique to be successful it is imperative to build strong rapport with the prospect during the sales process . They will need to view you as a trusted advisor and expert in recommending them a solution that best suits their needs.

If you have built a strong relationship with the buyer and proved that you understand exactly what their issues and end goals are then this closing technique can be the best approach.

An example of this close would be “Based on everything we have discussed and the need you have to improve “X”, then our “Y” product will completely eliminate the issues you’re having with “Z”. If we get this in place for you by Friday this week you will start seeing results within 14 days. Shall we get this put in place?”

10. The Something for Nothing Close

This is a close technique deployed in many organisations, especially in competitive markets. The technique works by giving the prospect a discount for first time buyers, a free period of usage or a free add-on which will benefit their purchase. The offering is made to secure the purchase in return. Offering a specific benefit or add-on for free can also set up potential cross-sell or upsell opportunities later on, so it can be a good business decision depending on your offering.

The something for nothing close works because people like free things as long as the offer is of value for them. If done correctly and your company has structure around this approach it can be highly lucrative to a business when selling additional products or services at a later date.

11. The Artisan Close

This closing technique focuses on what’s behind the scenes of a buyer’s purchase. You emphasise the expertise, work and time that your company invested in the product or service, instead of focusing on the features and benefits.

The technique is designed for buyers that appreciate a solution where a substantial amount of hard work and effort has been or is applied. By using this to bring a product or service into a new light can make closing the sale easier.

An example would be advising the prospect that a platform took designers and engineers three years of study and a team of 100 people are in place to maintain quality of day-to-day procedures.

12. The Ben Franklin Close

This is an old technique, well as old as Benjamin Franklin and has also been referred to as the Balance Sheet Close. If you’re in a meeting with a client and when it’s finished they are still undecided you turn to them and say “I can see you’re still undecided and what has seemed to help a number of other customers is to list the benefits, some of the reasons to make the purchase and then the negatives. It will only take a few minutes and should provide some good insights, ok?” Once you have the agreement you quite simply draw a line down the middle of a plain piece of paper and then either write the pros and cons or I’d recommend using a plus and minus sign. Then list down every good thing about your product or service and then the negatives.

It’s a good idea to have the prospect list the majority of these with your help as you want them to see the inevitable conclusion on their own. The most important thing to remember before attempting this close technique is to make sure there will be more pros than cons on the list, it would be a little embarrassing if it ended the other way around. Do your research on the customer thoroughly including their competitors so you know your product or service will come out on top.

13. The Nothing to Lose Close

Also referred to as the “The Hard Close” this is typically used as a last effort to finalise the sale. This closing technique is better used towards the end of the sales cycle, if used too early this can completely shut down a potential sale or can make it difficult to continue with a prospect.

Asking closed-ended questions like “Shall we go ahead and get this set up for you today?” or “If you have your payment method at hand and we will get that purchase arranged now!” These are to the point and asking for direct commitment, essentially asking the customer to buy.

It is recommended to use softer closes before the Nothing to Lose Closing technique. If the buyer is still saying “let me think about it” after all information has been exchanged then it is likely they are attempting to let you down easy. Initiating the Nothing to Lose Close here would not be detrimental to the sales cycle if they have no intent to buy. If you have this feeling and want to know in detail why, you can ask direct open-ended questions like “What’s holding you back from buying this today.” If asked in the right tone the buyer should know you know they have no intent and be honest as to the reason why they will not purchase.

In Conclusion

Mastering multiple closing techniques will inevitably aid in the success of any sales professional. The key is to find which closing techniques can be implemented in different steps of the sales process instead of saving everything until the end.

Remember closing is not a stand-alone event and by completing all steps of your sales process and action all stages of your sales pipeline properly and in order it will dramatically increase your Closed-Won success rate.

“Begin by always thinking good things will happen”

– Tom Hopkins

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Closing Techniques Explained

by Ben James time to read: 10 min
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