Business Sales Tips

Sell Smarter: Don’t forget to close.

The following is an excerpt from The Sell Smarter Collection.

Don’t forget to close

Would you ever consider working a full week then tell your boss to just keep the paycheck? Of course you wouldn’t. Occasionally, as salespeople, we do just this. We prospect, we set appointments, we pitch, and then we set a follow-up, all without closing. Just like working that forty-hour week, going through the entire sales process without actually asking for the business is one of the dumbest things we do to get in our own way as sales folks, yet we do it every day.

Not closing comes from a few places. All of which can be addressed and tweaked in your game.

One such place not closing comes from is not recognizing when the client is ready. This can be a tough one. Very rarely does the prospect ask us “So… what’s the next step from here?”.

We must learn to recognize buying signs, both subtle and otherwise. If it’s in person and you are pitching to more than one person, one such cue is when one client looks at the other and gives the head tilt and eyebrow as if to say “What do you think?”. At this point, that non-verbal can either mean one of them is on board, both is on board or the slightly worse, neither on board. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter, because a trial close here flushes that all out. If one is on board, you now have a sales assistant and someone to bounce things off at the other. If the trial close reveals that both are on board, you merely have to follow up with a major call to action “Sounds like everything is in order, let me fill you in on the process from here and we’ll get everything rolling.” If none of them are on board, the trial close offers you the opportunity to handle their objections. Responding relevantly and closing again will push you one step closer to having that aforementioned sales assistant.

When selling over the phone, one great buying sign to me is the first question that does not involve price.

I like to get the price objection out of the way early by letting them know I will work with them and ensure they get the best pricing available. Everyone wants to know price because it is always a concern. I like when they ask me other questions like “What’s the turn time?” or “Would we be able to tweak it like this?” At this point it’s easy to toss a close out there with a call to action to get any final objections out. “We certainly could alter the payment plan to your needs. Let’s go ahead and get everything started and if you change your mind on the payment terms tomorrow, we can make that switch at your request on the fly without skipping a beat.” This second part will take away the objection of

“OK, I will think about which way to go tonight and call you tomorrow.” They’ve told us they want to work with us, that final piece is all that needs to be ironed out and it is the tiniest of speed bumps. No roadblocks in sight.

Of course, these are just a few generic ways to recognize that the window to closing is open.

I cannot give definitive buying signs for all products, industries and situations. It’s up to you to reflect back on your past sales calls to see where exactly those magic moments occurred. Hindsight is 20/20 here. It’s also so much easier to recognize when it is time to close when you are not the salesperson. As a leader of sales teams, I learned to recognize the simplest non-verbal cues even without hearing both sides of the call. I could be caught waving my arms multiple times a day mouthing “CLOSE!” to my proteges even without knowing what the client on the other end of the phone was saying. You can feel the ebb and flow of the sales call just from the rhythm of the conversation.

Get me on the phone with my own clients however, and I sometimes miss simple buying signs while trying to dazzle the client with my knowledge and advice. Sometimes these things are not so visible when you are in the bubble.

I am beginning to think I may have hung with the wrong crowd as a younger man,

because I have yet another quote given to me by a co-worker years ago about not knowing when to close. “You’ve got her lying there naked in the bed waiting and you’re wasting time blowing out candles dummy.” Yeah… crass, but true. Once the client is ready to buy, we can easily talk them right out of the sale.

Continue to talk when the client is ready to go, and we run the risk of feeding them objections or giving them reason to think. Every feature/benefit we give at that point has them wondering if this is reallywhat they want or if company x down the road can do that thing better. Buyer’s remorse sets in regardless. The more we bullshit with them without moving the sale forward, the higher the chances of that remorse hitting before they even buy!

Learn to recognize buying signs and capitalize.

Learning when to close is something that comes with time, but when you figure out these sweet spots, your job gets that much easier. Pay attention and learn! Don’t worry about the candles. If she wants them blown out, she’ll let you know.

Find the homework for this chapter and much more in The Sell Smarter Collection (available on Amazon and all digital formats). More great insights can also be found in Scott’s Seven Minute Sales Minute podcast (available on iTunes and myriad other podcast outlets).

Scott Fishman
With over two decades of experience as a sales professional, Scott has seen it all. Not only has he been consistently at the top of his field, but he has helped to train, coach and mentor an entire new generation of sales professionals as well. It's time that Scott has shared his expertise with the world. It started with The Seven Minute Sales Minute podcast and continues with The 30 Minute Sales Coach Books. Scott is excited to share his knowledge with you.
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