Closing a sale -- getting your prospect to say yes -- can sometimes be as easy as asking for it. Once you've laid the foundation by qualifying your prospect, discovering their needs, and showing how your product/service meets those needs, it's time to ask for the order. These tips can help you make this process easy and natural.

Lay the Proper Groundwork

If, in your sales process, you have found out what their needs are and have helped them to recognize that what you are selling is meeting their needs, a "close" should not be necessary. If you are frequently wondering how to close, you should probably examine your methods for uncovering your customer's needs and demonstrating the benefits of your product or service.

Reach the Decision Maker

Make sure you are speaking with the person who makes the buying decisions. Sometimes a person won't say "yes" to your product or service because they're not authorized to do so. If this is the case, find out if there is anybody else that gets involved in this decision that your prospect recommends you speak with.

Provide a Deadline

If you have a customer who is vacillating, one way to close is to tell them that your service will not be available past a certain date. For example, if a client says they are interested in hiring your firm but cannot make a commitment, set a deadline date or say that you will be unavailable for a certain amount of time. This is high risk because it can mean that you won't work with this client in the near future. However, it will also separate live prospects from prospects who are likely to drag on forever without making a decision. Forcing a decision, one way or the other, is good for your business. If they decide not to buy, it frees you to pursue other business.

Work Back From the Date They Need It

Find out when your customer needs the product or service you are selling and then work back from that date to make a case for why closing now is important. For instance, if you are a PR firm, you would want to know when your prospect intends to introduce their next product. You could then explain why they would need to hire you now to ensure their press efforts are a success.

Use the Threat of a Price Increase

If your business plans to raise prices in January, start calling people in October to get them to buy before the price increase occurs. Positioning here is critical -- remember that you are calling to provide a service to your prospect, not to intimidate them into buying. Not only will this help you close, but your prospects and clients will appreciate the advance notice.

Talk About the Implication of Not Moving Forward on a Sale

Ask them questions in order to get them to say what it would cost them if they didn't buy your product -- a disaster without insurance, a car accident because of a lack of a tune-up or new tires, an off-base product launch because of a lack of market research. Cost can be financial, time, reputation, among other things.

The views and opinions contained herein are not necessarily those of American Express and are intended as a reference and for informational purposes only. Please contact your attorney, accountant or other business professional for advice specific to your business.

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