This is it, the stage where you close the sale, where you earn commission or bring revenue into your company. All the work you have done so far in the sales process has been leading to here.
Your sales process may be short, you may have a simple product that requires a few questions, a brief informal presentation, and now you are going to ask for the sale, well kind of.
Your products could be high value, have lots of options, require several meetings to gain information and prepare a lengthy, formal quote. Now you are going to ask for the sale, but not in such a direct way.
What you will find surprising now is how easy closing the sale is. Not because we use any pressure closes or linguistic tricks, no magic bullets, but because you have done all the closing through the agreement gaining in each of the stages. You have done all the work already, that’s why the close you will use now is so simple.
Table of content
- Where In The Sales Process Do You Close The Sale?
- The Closing Stage
- Stepping From The Presentation Stage To The Closing Stage
- Create The Questions To Close The Sale
- The Need To Close Chains
Where In The Sales Process Do You Close The Sale?
You close the sale by including agreement and commitment gaining throughout the Sales Process. This is all part of the sales closing process that you should have woven into every part of the sales conversation with your prospect. The positive responses, commitment, and agreement you have gained from the buyer on the way to this point have made gaining that final agreement to a sale a simple, straightforward task.
Actions in the Introduction Stage that help to close the sale
In the Introduction Stage you gained commitment to the agenda, the process you and the prospect are going to follow. This included a very important line that gained commitment to you presenting a proposal, based on the information they give you, and then asking them if they would like to go ahead with that proposal. All in your own words and appropriate for your products, marketplace, and prospects. Because you gained that agreement in the earlier stage of the sale, it is unlikely the prospect will object as you now move into the Closing Stage and ask them to move to the next step and give you a decision on placing the order.
Gaining agreement in the Questioning Stage
In the Questioning Stage you summarised the prospect’s needs, wants, and desires and gained agreement that the information you had gathered was correct. The buyer agreed that if your proposal showed how they could gain the needs, wants, and desires you summarised, they would place an order or move to the next stage of the process that you outlined. Again, you chose the level of commitment you were asking for.
Commitment to the proposal you have presented
In the Presentation Stage you presented the elements of your proposal in neat topic packages. You gained agreement that the buyer could see how they would gain the benefits they had earlier agreed they wanted.
See how it all stacks up?
The Closing Stage
Now we are at the stage where all the agreement and commitment gaining actions you have included in the sales stages make closing the sale just another simple step forward.
View the Closing Stage as just another stage where you ask for commitment and agreement to move forward to the next stage of the sales process, the close. This next step could be: ordering a service, arranging delivery of a product, a payment, commitment to a trial, subscription to a service, agreeing to installation of a product. Whatever it is, think of it as just another step, and because of the process you have used it is a logical step for the prospect.
It’s small step to the close – Not a big leap
For many sales people the Closing Stage is tough to move into. It’s a big leap from the nice conversation you were having with the prospect to asking for an order. If you haven’t been gaining agreement throughout the sale it can come as a shock to the prospect.
My aim is to make closing sales easy for you.
I have witnessed sales meetings where there was so little agreement gained that when it got to where the sales person asked for an order the prospect was shocked that this friendly conversation suddenly became a request for decision on buying.
I have a question for you
How do you close sales now?
If you paused and couldn’t give an immediate answer, you probably haven’t got a process, technique, or way of closing sales that you consciously put into action.
If you have been meeting or calling potential customers and introducing your business and products, asking them about their needs, and showing them what your products can do, what do you do next? How have you been asking for the sale up to today?
Some sales people don’t use a close. They continue presenting features and benefits in the hope that the prospect will see how good their offer is and ask to order it. Not a good strategy if you want to close more sales.
We will now create a Closing Stage for you, one that is right for your prospects, your business, your products, and your marketplace. A Closing Stage that builds on the agreement and commitment you have gained up to this point in the sales process and is just a small, logical, next step forward.
Stepping From The Presentation Stage To The Closing Stage
You want to know if the presentation you have made has met all the buyer’s needs, wants, and desires. There is no point asking for acceptance of a proposal, a close, if the content of that proposal isn’t what the buyer wants.
In the previous sales stage, the Presentation, you should have gained agreement to each of the topic packages as you presented them. The step into the Closing Stage now comes as you ask if the proposal you have presented, as a whole, has met the buyer’s requirements. We want a line that asks that question, and we’ll create that shortly.
Put simply, you are going to ask if the proposal you have presented meets the prospect’s requirements, and if it does you are going to ask them if they will move to the next step – an action that closes the sale.
So the close comes in 2 parts:
- Gaining agreement to the proposal.
- Asking if they will move forward.
Gaining agreement to the proposal
Here are some examples of very simple questions to gain agreement that you have got the presentation right.
Does what I’ve shown you match what you want?
Is the …insert product or service… the solution to your problem?
You said you were looking for …insert a main need… can you see how …insert product… can give you that?
No tricks, no high pressure closing, if they have been giving you agreement all the way through the presentation why wouldn’t they agree with you now.
If they don’t agree you can circle back to the Questioning Stage, ask what you need to do for the proposal to be accepted, then present a revised presentation and you are back at this point of the sales process.
There is more we can do with this important, agreement gaining question
What if, we don’t just ask if the proposal we have presented covers all the buyer’s requirements, what if we also ask: Have we have missed anything?
If we are confident they liked the presentation another option is: Ask if this is a proposal they would like to go ahead with.
What if we ask: Is there anything we have missed, or can add, that will make this a proposal that they would be happy to go ahead with, more agreement gained.
Asking if you have missed anything or if you can add anything will not only allow you to add further features and benefits to match any needs they now tell you about, it will also give you an indication of any other concerns they may have about your proposal, or doing business with you.
Their response will tell you how ready they are to buy. If there are concerns, something they are unsure about, these doubts will come out now. Much better to get them out of the way before your closing question.
Think about this question
In the above examples we used the question: Is there anything we have missed, or can add, that will make this a proposal you would be happy to go ahead with?
If the prospect answers yes, they are going to tell you what you must add for them to agree to the sale. They are again telling you what should be in your presentation, your proposal. Providing you can do what add there is a very good chance you will close the sale.
If the prospect says no, there isn’t anything that needs adding, you should take that as agreement that they are happy with the presentation and they will buy from you. The only exception to this would be if they somehow knew you couldn’t give them what they want, which would have been highlighted and dealt with in the Questioning Stage.
I also like the use of the word, We, in the line: Is there anything we have missed…
This is saying, we are working on this together. Asking: Is there anything you and I have missed makes ensuring the presentation is acceptable is a joint venture.
We are not closing yet
In the options above we have not asked for agreement to a sale or to place an order yet, we are asking about the suitability of the proposal we have presented. If the buyer says no to the questions about the suitability of the presentation, they are not saying they will not buy from you, they are telling you the proposal isn’t quite right yet.
This leaves you free to change the presentation, you haven’t lost the sale. Think of it as an objection, which is the next topic of this course. Turn the buyer’s response around and frame it as: This is what you need to do to get them to take the next step.
The way to deal with any objection is to question the buyer on what needs to change in your proposal for them to want to move forward.
The Presentation isn’t acceptable – This is where you negotiate
When the buyer tells you there is something about your proposal that they can’t agree to, or that something they need is missing, or gives some other reason why they can’t agree to take the next step forward, think of what happens next as a negotiation. And remember, they are not refusing to buy, they are asking for a change to the proposition being presented.
It could be that there is a benefit the buyer wants that you cannot provide. Here the negotiation starts. You look for ways that you can meet the buyer’s needs.
Maybe there isn’t a way that your product, or anyone else’s, can do what the buyer wants. You can then try to add other features that approach the need from a different angle but provide similar benefits.
Show why your proposal is the best solution, or change your proposal and make it acceptable to the prospect.
After questioning and negotiating you can present a new proposal or summarise the changes you have agreed. Then you are back at the point where this sales stage started, Closing the Sale, and you again ask an agreement gaining question.
2 parts to the close
If the buyer responds to your agreement gaining question by saying the presentation meets their requirements, you can ask the 2nd question in the Closing Stage and close the sale. Remember we said there are 2 parts to the close, once they agree to the proposal you can use part 2.
- Gaining agreement to the proposal.
- Asking if they will move forward.
Consolidate the sale
When you have gained acceptance to the proposal, you want to consolidate the sale by gaining agreement to the next step, closing the sale.
You may have had to deal with questions, added other features and benefits to the proposal, and maybe negotiated with the prospect to finalise a proposal that you can both, working together, agree on. Now the prospect has agreed the proposal meets their requirements, what do you do next?
The simple way to consolidate the sale is to get the prospect to move to the next step. The next step will be specific to your sales process. It could be signing an order, making a payment, maybe you send a contract, arrange delivery, get the prospect to take an action online. Whatever it is, ask the prospect to take that step.
How to close the sale – Ask a simple question
When you have agreement from the buyer that your proposal meets their requirements, you ask a simple question. You ask them to move to the next step.
- Would you like to arrange a delivery date?
- How would you like to pay?
- Can we get the ball rolling by…
If you think the above are too assumptive you can ask a more definite question:
- If that covers everything shall we set this up?
- You seem happy with the proposal, would you like to arrange an installation date?
- Would you like to start your subscription?
Find the right question for you and your prospects. Choose how formal and assumptive you want to be.
For example, how would you like to pay, is an assumptive question compared to, would you like to get started by arranging the payment?
A formal question: We’ve agreed the proposal will be a good solution, so would you like to agree to accept it?
Informal question: It looks like we have the right solution, shall we put it in place?
Closing on a strong need and benefit
If there is one very strong need that you have presented a benefit for, or a solution that the prospect has agreed the proposal will solve, you can use it to close the sale. In the examples above you were closing on the whole proposal. With this technique you are closing on one strong benefit.
You’re looking for ways to increase the profits on the products you manufacture. (Restating a Need)
You like the way our machine can reduce the waste materials in the manufacturing process (Restating a Feature) and how this will increase profits. (Restating a Benefit)
Would you like to order the machine and start making those increased profits? (Closing Question)
I like this technique, it has served me well in many sales roles, including while talking to potential clients at Sales Agents UK. When a prospect has a specific need it’s at this stage that I restate it, and follow with the feature that will meet that need and the benefit it will provide.
Let’s now create the words for your questions that will close your sales…
Create The Questions To Close The Sale
As you have read this section you may be thinking, is that it, just a question about agreement to the proposal in the presentation and another about moving forward?
This is always a surprise to delegates when I present a live course. They look at all the work, the information, the slides, the exercises completed in the earlier stages, and they were expecting to have to do a lot more work in the Closing Stage.
It’s because of all the actions you take in the earlier stages of the sale that the Closing Stage is just a couple of questions to gain agreement and acceptance of the proposal and to moving to the next step. You have been closing since the first lines of your Introduction Stage, no need for anything more than 2 simple questions now.
- Gaining agreement to the proposal.
- Asking if they will move forward.
Gaining agreement that the proposal provides the prospect’s requirements
Create 3 lines that ask if the Presentation meets the buyer’s needs, wants, and desires.
- You can simply ask, does our product/service meet your requirements.
- You can ask if you have missed anything or is there anything that needs adding.
- You can frame the questions to ask if they would like to go ahead based on the proposal.
- You can consider a question based on working together to make this a proposal they are happy to move forward with.
Use the exercise to create a question that works for you and is in your own words.
Gaining agreement to move forward – the close
This is where you create a question that consolidates the sale by gaining agreement from the buyer to move to the next step of the sales process, whatever that is for your products or services.
Create 3 questions that ask the buyer to move forward to the next step of the sales process.
Remember, you are not asking for a sale. They have agreed that what you propose meets their requirements, why wouldn’t they buy from you? It can actually seem a bit strange if you now ask: Would you like to buy? A direct question such as that can be out of place in the conversation, break the rapport you have built, and stop the flow of the conversation.
Refer back to the text and examples in this section, get a real feel for the 2 types of questions you are creating and their purpose.
Now let’s add more to your sales process to make it even more successful…
The Need To Close Chains
A good sales training exercise that is really worthwhile practicing for both teams and individuals, is the Need to Close Chain. You will not have seen this concept anywhere else. I created it as an ice-breaker for courses and meetings and developed it into a way to teach sales teams product knowledge, how to link customer needs to features, benefits, and closing questions.
And it is a very effective sales motivation tool to get sales people into a selling state before meetings or calls. It really wakes up sales teams in morning meetings as well.
Need to Close Chains are a great way to link Needs – Benefits – Closes and use them in a sales conversation. They fit well with the Presentation Stage and Closing Stage where you want to put good lines to together to gain agreement.
The Need to Close Chains Sales Closing Exercise
Think of a common need your prospects have that can be addressed by the products or services that you sell.
Now picture a benefit you can provide to the prospect that addresses that need. Using the knowledge we built up earlier on the features and benefits of what you sell, identify the best feature that provides the desired benefit to meet the need. Explain how the feature provides the benefit and how the feature meets the need.
Create a question that gains acceptance from a prospect that the feature and associated benefit match the need. Identify the next step in the sales process, e.g. payment, agreeing installation or delivery dates, or other action by the prospect. Add another question that gains agreement from a prospect to moving forward to the identified next step.
Repeat for all the common needs, wants and desires your prospects have.
At first you will progress slowly, having to think about which benefits match the prospect’s needs, and what features can provide those benefits. As you practice this technique you will become faster, quickly reeling off Need – Benefit – Feature – Closing Question.
Try it out, it’s also a great way to learn new product knowledge and a superb motivator to get you into the best mental state to access all your sales resources before a meeting or call. For me, the above process is the sales process in a nutshell. Practice this exercise, mentally and verbally, for each of the needs, wants, desires, that your prospects have. This is a great way to learn and practice selling your specific products and services.
This is an exercise and not necessarily how you would use features and benefits during a face to face meeting or telesales call. It’s designed to create new neural pathways that give you easy access to the key sales elements, benefits, features, and the lines for closing sales, and how they are connected to a specific need.