As a businessperson, the worst feeling is when you do everything right in the negotiation process but can’t close the deal.
The weeks or months of hard work you put into luring a prospective client go down the drain, and it’s disheartening. Closing is the final stretch you need to bring home the bacon—arguably the most important step of the sales process. Without a tested strategy in place, time and effort are squandered and the deal goes nowhere.
Closing sales is one part art and one part science, but that doesn’t mean it’s complicated. Here’s how to master it:
1. Pinpoint your customer’s pain points.
Too often, salespeople rush to show off their products or services without first figuring out what the customer needs.
When you first meet with a client, you have to take time to understand their pain point. The best way to do that is to come to your meeting armed with questions designed to get to the heart of what they truly need. Here are a couple ideas:
What’s the greatest problem you or your department is facing right now?
What metric would you most like to improve on?
Once you know your customer’s issue, tailor your pitch around how your product can solve that problem.
It helps if you have the meeting somewhere less formal than a conference room. People want to do business with people they like, so try meeting at a restaurant. Take the client to lunch or dinner. Getting them out of the office and sharing a meal with them will build companionship and make them feel cared for.
And don’t assume your work is done after the meeting—follow-up with an article on something they mentioned during the meeting to show you were paying attention.
Even if you’re selling online—which is likely—you need to be equally mindful of the customer’s needs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re closing the deal over cocktails or email.
Here are some tips and tricks for navigating the sales process in the digital realm:
- Clarity: Present your offer as clearly as possible. Eliminate distractions like banner ads, and make sure nothing else is obscuring the offer.
- Relevancy: Tailor your offer to your audience, or tailor your audience to your offer. Test a number of audiences, from Reddit threads to online forums. Use Google Analytics to see what delivers the most traffic.
- Reduce anxiety: Customers often feel anxiety when spending their hard-earned cash, especially when buying things online. Eliminate their unease by offering a 30-day money back guarantee, and adding every question asked through your live chat onto the FAQ section.
When you have their business, the work will be well worth the investment.
2. Try the assumptive close.
We all know the phrase about what happens when we assume.
During a sales cycle, assuming can set you up for disappointment and cause you to not be as thorough as you should be. But this rule goes out the window when it comes to an effective assumptive close.
With this strategy, you begin the sales cycle assuming the prospect is going to buy your product or service, and you subtly let him or her know that you’re assuming that they will be a customer. To do this, you ask a question that—when the customer answers it—implicitly closes the sale.
Consider trying out one of these:
- “Help me understand your process and how your company will purchase this product.”
- “I’ll go get the paperwork ready.”
- “When should we begin implementation?”
Be careful with this one though, because assuming too much may backfire—just as the phrase goes.
The assumptive close is most appropriate when you’re not sure your customer is convinced. You need to use frequent “temperature checks” of your customer to make sure that she is following along with your assumptions. Talking about the details will either confirm the customer’s decision to buy or allow for further discussion. Otherwise, this tactic can be seen as shady or manipulative.
But if you’re careful and respectful, you’ll gain your customer’s trust and win their business.
3. Create a sense of urgency.
People might love what you’re offering, but if they tell themselves they’ll get on it “soon,” they’re likely to forget or never really take action.
Give the client an incentive to commit. Whether you’re offering a discount or giving them something for free, it’s important to make them feel like they have the upper hand. Try to give them a little extra reason why your product or service is not only the right choice but also the right choice right now.
The trick is not pushing people into the sale, but rather preventing them from delaying the purchase until later.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of urgency—real and implied. An example of real urgency is when an offer expires in 24 hours, after which point it will never exist again. Studies show that a time-sensitive $100 savings incentive with an actual deadline increased enrollment in an online course by 992% in the three days following the promotion.
Implied urgency is when you use words like “now” and “today” to nudge readers to take action. There is no real urgency, but you suggest a need to act now. Studies show that implied urgency by using a date-stamp on the page of a “lowest price” deal increased sales by 10% for 48 hours after the page was shared via email.
The next time you go to write an email, landing page, or advertisement, consider what you might be able to do to add some urgency to what you’re offering.
Closing a deal takes careful planning, but with a solid strategy in place, you can up your chances of making it happen.