Closing the Sale

Want to close sales like a star? Learn how to ask the right questions and never watch prospects walk away.

By Tom Hopkins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Typically, when I talk with my students on a one-to-one basis, they ask me a lot of questions about how to close sales. That's to be expected because it's the positive end result all salespeople seek in any contact with potential clients.

In most situations where sales aren't closed, it's usually because the salesperson didn't ask the right question. In all my training, you'll hear it repeated over and over that every answer you need to get in order to meet someone, qualify them as to their needs, get permission to give a presentation or close a sale will come to you if you only ask the right questions.

Sometimes, it's not just the question that matters, but how it's presented. You may have to set the stage or tell a story leading up to the question that helps the client rationalize the buying decision. No matter how good your lead in or story is, however, you won't get the sale if you don't ask for it.

Let me give you a few closes that have proven successful for my students the world over. Don't be concerned if they seem a bit wordy--you're painting pictures and involving the emotions of your potential clients. Say the words with warmth and sincerity, and they'll work for you.

When your clients hesitate because they aren't sure it's the right decision, try what we call "The Best Things in Life Close." This is a great close to use with a personal sale, especially when you're trying to sell something to a husband and wife. Compare the decision they're considering right now to other decisions they've made and have been happy with. It's especially helpful when they've admitted they want the product but are just struggling with saying yes. It goes like this:

"Isn't it true, John and Mary, that the only time you've ever really benefited from anything in your life has been when you said yes instead of no? You said yes to your marriage. . ." [And this next part's optional: ". . .and I can see how happy you are." But don't add this phrase unless you've seen signs that they truly are a happy couple!] "You said yes to your job, your home, your car--all the things I'm sure you truly enjoy.

"You see, when you say yes to me, it's not really me you are saying yes to but all the benefits this product offers... [and then list a few of the benefits they were most excited about.] Those are the things you really want for your family, aren't they?"

With these words, you're helping them focus on the benefits they want from the product rather than their hesitation to make the investment to own it. The little agreements you ask for during the close get the "yes" momentum started. If they do truly believe your product is good for them, these words will help them get over their hesitation to give you the final yes and close the sale.

Another situation might be during a business sale where the decision-maker uses "the budget" as a reason not to go ahead. This purchase might not have been in their plans, so the money isn't in the budget. If you truly believe your product would provide excellent benefits to their company, your goal in this situation is to get them to admit and agree to that point. Ask this: "John, if the money for this investment was in your budget, would you proceed?" If he says yes, agree with him by saying "That's wonderful, John. I'm glad you see the benefits our XYZ product can bring to your business."

At this point, you can either move on to a discussion of their return on investment or try these words:

"I can understand your concern with your budget, John. That's why I contacted you in the first place. I'm fully aware of the fact that every well-managed business controls the flow of its money with a carefully planned budget. The budget is a necessary tool for every company to give direction to its goals. However, the tool itself doesn't dictate how the company is run, does it?

"It must be flexible to allow the company to manage crises or take advantage of unplanned opportunities. As the controller of that budget, you retain for yourself the right to flex it in the best interest of the company's financial present and competitive future, don't you?

"What we've been examining here today is a system which will allow your company an immediate and continuing competitive edge. Tell me, under these conditions, will your budget flex or will it dictate your actions?"

Hopefully, you see the difference between just asking for the sale and helping people make decisions that are good for them. That's the difference between an average salesperson and a great one!

Tom Hopkins

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as "the builder of sales champions." For the past 30 years, he's provided superior sales training through his company, Tom Hopkins International.

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