Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Closing the Sale

Once you've laid the foundation, it's time to ask for the order. These tips can help make the process easy.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

Lay the proper groundwork

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

Reach the decision maker

Make sure you are speaking with the person who makes the buyingdecisions. Sometimes a person won't say "yes" to yourproduct or service because they're not authorized to do so. Ifthis is the case, find out if there is anybody else that getsinvolved in this decision that your prospect recommends you speakwith.

Provide a deadline

If you have a customer who is vacillating, one way to close isto tell them that your service will not be available past a certaindate. For example, if a client says they are interested in hiringyour firm but cannot make a commitment, set a deadline date or saythat you will be unavailable for a certain amount of time. This ishigh risk because it can mean that you won't work with thisclient in the near future. However, it will also separate liveprospects from prospects who are likely to drag on forever withoutmaking a decision. Forcing a decision, one way or the other, isgood for your business. If they decide not to buy, it frees you topursue other business.

Work back from the date they need it

Find out when your customer needs the product or service you areselling and then work back from that date to make a case for whyclosing now is important. For instance, if you are a PR firm, youwould want to know when your prospect intends to introduce theirnext product. You could then explain why they would need to hireyou 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 callingpeople in October to get them to buy before the price increaseoccurs. Positioning here is critical--remember that you are callingto provide a service to your prospect, not to intimidate them intobuying. Not only will this help you close, but your prospects andclients will appreciate the advance notice.

Talk about the implication of not moving forward on asale

Ask them questions in order to get them to say what it wouldcost them if they didn't buy your product--a disaster withoutinsurance, a car accident because of a lack of a tune-up or newtires, an off-base product launch because of a lack of marketresearch. Cost can be financial, time, reputation, among otherthings.

The viewsand opinions contained herein are not necessarily those of AmericanExpress and are intended as a reference and for informationalpurposes only. Please contact your attorney, accountant or otherbusiness professional for advice specific to yourbusiness.

Copyright © 2002 American Express Company. All RightsReserved

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks