Closing a sales deal is often seen as the grand finale, the drumroll moment that either validates your exploratory and presentation process efforts or sends you back to the drawing board. But what if I told you that closing is less about that final “yes” and more about the steps that lead up to it?
Setting the Stage
First impressions matter. In fact, research suggests that it takes just 7 seconds for someone to form a first impression of you!
According to Mehrabian’s Communication Model
- 55% of first impressions are made by what people see (your appearance)
- 38% is the way you sound (your voice)
- 7% is what you say (your words)
From your initial outreach to the ongoing conversations, every touchpoint should be an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the customer’s needs and how your solution can close their Gap.
At Carew, we believe that every conversation you have should begin with Positive Contact – a friendly, professional greeting and an appropriate amount of non-business-related conversation that is of interest to your customer. Here is where we model positive attitude, energy, and appearance.
The Power of Listening
The first step in LAER: The Bonding Process® and one of the most overlooked aspects of sales – Listening. Active listening allows you to pick up on subtle cues, concerns, or areas of interest that may not be explicitly stated.
This information is gold when it comes to finding your customer’s Gap, tailoring your pitch, and, eventually, your closing strategy. Remember, people want to be understood before they are willing to understand what you’re offering.
Recognize that objections are a natural occurrence whenever someone is considering a decision, and handling them does not have to be a painful activity. When tackled with expertise, they can be invaluable opportunities to deepen and invest in the relationship.
Whether it’s a concern about pricing, implementation, or ROI, each objection is an opportunity to listen, acknowledge, and explore further. The key is to address these objections proactively, not as an afterthought when you’re on the brink of closing.
Learn more about this strategy by exploring our most recent white paper – Handling Objections Using LAER: The Bonding Process
Timing is Everything
In the sales profession, timing can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. Knowing when to push and when to pause is crucial. This doesn’t mean you should rush a customer into a decision or, conversely, let the deal languish. It means being attuned to the customer’s readiness to move forward and aligning your closing strategy accordingly.
Remember, sales don’t close themselves; you always have to ask for the sale! The closing technique you choose should align with the rapport you’ve built, the needs you’ve identified, and the buying orientation of your customer.
When it comes to the actual close, there are six major types and countless variations that you have at your disposal:
Direct – “May I get started with an order today?” This is a direct question.
Indirect – “We would like to begin implementing the benefits of this program today.” This is a statement rather than a question, hence indirect.
Guidance – “After evaluating the alternatives, I would suggest we take the following course of action.” Here, you are guiding the customer.
Choice – “Would you prefer to start the program today or schedule implementation for the beginning of next quarter?” You’re offering the customer at least two options to consider.
Benefit – “Can we start helping you increase profits today?” This can be direct or indirect and references a major outcome-oriented benefit.
Next Step – “Since a decision can’t be reached today, can we decide upon a next step?” Sometimes, your customer is not quite ready to make a decision, but you need to keep moving forward. You do this by creating a next step with a time and date.
Closure requires decisiveness as well as patience and stamina to wait for the customer’s answer. The close is not just about getting a signature on the dotted line; it’s about setting the stage for a long-term relationship. Make sure to follow through with exceptional service and ongoing value, turning a closed deal into a loyal customer.