We all know the profession of selling is tainted by the “typical car salesman” who wants to know, “… what will it take to get you into this car today?” These individuals give the concept of “closing” a bad name. “Closing” is, in fact, a critical selling skill, yet many sales professionals struggle with this part of the sales process.
Why is it that some sales professionals either don’t close or hesitate to ask a customer for their commitment? Ask yourself if you fall victim to any of these closing detours:
- If the customer says “no,” I take it personally, as a sign of personal rejection. Consequently, I avoid rejection by avoiding whatever might produce rejection.
- Maybe I need just a little more information…
- I expected more resistance than this. This is too good to be true. Maybe I should ask if they have any concerns or objections.
- I said my part; now it’s up to the customer to say “yes.” They know that’s why I’m here.
- Stereotypical sales people ask the customer for the business.
- It feels manipulative to close.
- They seem like they want to go forward; let’s set up a trial or pilot that still makes it clear they haven’t fully committed yet.
- If I close and they say “yes,” then the ball (responsibility, next steps) is back in my lap.
There is research that suggests many customers won’t buy unless they have been asked to do so multiple times. That same research also reveals that a high percentage (50%) of sales people don’t come out and ask for the sale. The disconnect is obvious.
Our closes will be more productive if we plan them. There are as many ways to close as there are products and customers. In Dimensions of Professional Selling, we examine six major types of closes (Direct, Indirect, Guidance, Choice, Benefit, and Next Step) that can be used independently or in combination. Their deployment will depend upon the solution being proposed and the styles and preferences of both the customer and the sales professional.
Closing effectively is NOT a result of clever, glib phrasing. It is a logical result of a thorough Exploratory Process; a well-planned and executed Solution Presentation and effective handling of resistance and objections along the way. If you’ve done all this, your successful close rate should be very high, and your anxiety around closing will be extremely low. But if you haven’t done all the things you need to do to be awarded the business, asking for the sale 100 times won’t make any difference.