By Danielle Kennedy
When I entered the selling profession 25 years ago, I had no idea how to close a sale. Now, after years in the sales trenches, I've learned to follow my instincts, use common sense, and simply ask the prospect to tell me the truth. Here are my 10 best ways to close a sale:
1. Prepare well in advance, and you'll close effortlessly. Create a pre-close questionnaire, including as many questions as you can think of that the prospect may ask. For example: Is your product as good a value as the competition's? Be sure you can back up your reply in a way that doesn't knock the competition but exhibits impressive knowledge of both the competitor's product and your own.
2. Assume closing the sale is good for both you and the customer. As the closing process unfolds, a feeling should materialize of "There is no turning back. I have created so much desire in the customer, it would be cruel to stop now."
3. Create opportunities for prospects to disclose objections. Say: "Is this price out of the ballpark?" The more prospects trust you, the more likely they are to confess their true objections. Until they confess, you cannot close the sale.
4. Team close. Your past satisfied customers are more than happy to help you clinch the sale. Tell the prospect: "Don't just take my word for it. You deserve to hear it straight from the source--a current customer. Give them a call this morning."
5. Create urgency. Caution: Don't play games. When you tell a prospect you have people waiting in the wings to buy, you'd better be telling the truth.
6. Cut to the chase. Ask direct questions: "Are you getting the right answers from me to help you come to some conclusions?" "What kind of budget are we working with?"
7. Listen for the close. Sometimes it happens in silence. All the questions have been answered. Don't break the spell with meaningless conversation. Say, "This is exciting." Then begin to write the order.
8. When you can't close, ask for a confession. When out of the blue a prospect becomes resistant to buy, the hard sell is not the answer. Take all the pressure off and say, "Based on our discussions, I assumed you were ready to make a decision. If that's not the case, it won't be the end of the world for either of us. Feel free to tell me your thoughts. What direction do you want to go in?" (Say nothing until the prospect responds.)
9. Close on the relationship, not the product. Here's my favorite closing script: "Certainly it would make no sense for me to recommend you purchase something you will someday regret. It would damage our relationship and my credibility--two things that mean more to me in the long run than this sale. I am so sure that someday you will thank me that I can only recommend we move forward on this. Shall we proceed with the paperwork?"
10. Communicate a passionate belief in your product or service. If there is no gap between your inner belief and the outer language you use to close, that alignment produces a natural confidence and a strong presence that inspires the customer to buy.