The Top 5 Ways to Close a Deal
A famous Philadelphian once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” This wasn’t the only advice Benjamin Franklin offered to the dealmakers of the future. In his autobiography, Franklin talked about a lesson he learned when he tried to convince farmers to supply wagons for an expedition. When he showed the farmers how it would benefit them personally, they immediately agreed. This discovery would soon be translated into his famous sales principle: “It’s all about them!”
Basic sales techniques haven’t changed much since Franklin's time. As an entrepreneur, business leader, or sales executive, you know that nothing happens until you close the deal. In my experience, closing business deals comes down to two basic principles: empathy and logic. Empathy allows you to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and understand their “pain points,” and logic permits you to make connections between the prospect’s needs and your solutions, thereby positioning your products to sell themselves.
After practicing what I like to call “instinctive selling” for many years, I often credited my success to a good economy or the strength of my product knowledge. But more recently, as I've mentored younger salespeople and created training materials, it dawned on me that I’ve been using five proven techniques all along.
Build connections and trust
As someone who’s been blessed with a great memory, I’ve never had to keep a “file” to remember details about my clients, but it’s a great way to make them feel important. Knowing a few tidbits about your client’s personal life, dream vacation, birthday, or favorite sports team never hurts, but it’s important to do this with sincerity. Anyone can memorize a few facts, but being able to express a genuine interest in your clients’ success can truly make a difference. I’ve found that making introductions to potential business partners, forwarding relevant articles, or sending thoughtful, hand-written notes are the best ways to earn a prospect’s confidence. According to Salesforce, 79 percent of buyers say it’s “absolutely critical” that they interact with a salesperson who they see as a trusted advisor.
Be excited about what you’re selling
Nothing replaces enthusiasm, and in my opinion, it is the number one reason people want to do business with me. But how do you maintain that enthusiasm, day in and day out? That largely depends on how much you love what you’re doing. If your confidence is wavering or your pitch sounds scripted, it may be time to work on your “elevator pitch.” Everyone should be able to convey in 1-2 minutes what they do, why they do it, and how it benefits others. Take the time to practice this pitch, and then tailor it to match your prospects’ objectives. Learn about how your product or service stacks up to competitors; memorize statistics that back up your claims and be prepared to share a case study from a satisfied customer. And perhaps most importantly, remember to smile when you talk about your product!
To create a win-win proposition, listen before talking
No matter how great you are at building a rapport and conveying enthusiasm, the time will come to get into specifics. It will be tempting to share all the key benefits about your company, but don’t do it! Even if a customer asks for your “pitch,” don’t give it to them. This might sound counterintuitive but trust me on this. No one really wants to hear a sales pitch. They want to know how you will solve their problems, and the only way you will solve their problems is if you listen more than you speak. Asking open-ended questions will reveal the most important pain points and provide clues to what is needed to solve them. Only then can you give them the right solutions and create a win-win proposition.
Make your prospect a rockstar
How do you close more business deals in a crowded marketplace? With so many experienced sellers out there, how do you set yourself apart and close the deal? In my experience, the key is “Insight Selling.” If you haven’t heard about this, I recommend reading, “Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently.” When the Harvard Business Review wrote about this concept, they called it the “most effective means of empowering buyers to succeed in gaining organizational buy-in.” In a nutshell, only with a deep understanding of a business’s needs can sellers equip their prospects with insights that build a “compelling business case.” It’s about coming in with a bigger idea and changing the conversation. Providing insights that convey value will make your client a hero, and result in a longstanding partnership.
Go in for the close
If you really want to close sales like a pro, you need to ask for the sale. Please don’t be shy about this! Asking for the sale doesn’t have to be painful. It can be done in many subtle ways, such as the “assumptive close”, where you start reviewing terms and conditions as if the client has already agreed to buy. The “impending event close” is when the seller relays a story that builds a sense of urgency. The “choice close” is when you offer the client a choice between two packages, which makes them feel empowered, and a “conditional close” is where the customer is rewarded for signing now, through an introductory offer or special promotion.
You may need to adjust your approach and adapt it to the customer, but never assume the client will give you a "yes" before you ask the question.