Sales Closing: Effective Techniques to Seal the Deal
Sales closing is like building a house of cards. The rewards are great, but everything can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Usually, when you're placing the last card–or closing the deal!
So how to close a sale? Sales closing is considered to be the most difficult step in the sales process after . We'll go over what sales closing is and techniques on how to close a sale in this article.
Definition: What is closing?
Closing is the last step in the sales process. At the beginning stages of the closing period, an offer has been made and potentially even verbally agreed to. However, there is no financial or legal commitment yet, and thus still potential for negotiation.
The closing ends by the signing of a contract and successful payment. In other words, the prospect is converted into a customer, and they can finally take advantage of the product's features, which they've probably already enjoyed thanks to a or free demonstration.
The closing stage is one of the most exciting of the entire sales process for the sales team. A successful sale is just out of reach, but it's a volatile moment. After all, a prospect might pull out of the deal at the last minute, even despite all the work the sales team has done beforehand. A prospect could default on the sale for a few different reasons:
- The price
- The consequences for the prospect in the short term
- The conditions of the contract, etc.
To successfully close a sale, a salesperson must use persuasive arguments, have great timing, and leverage specific sales techniques. Let's dive a little deeper into how you can successfully close a sale.
How to close a sale?
First of all, let's demystify closing: there is no one miraculous solution for closing a sale. But certain practices, analyses and behaviours can, if combined effectively, help you improve your closing rate. Moreover, the approach to take depends on the prospect and especially on their needs, which must be clearly identified.
Each potential customer is different, so the biggest challenge you have to manage for one prospect won't be the same as for another. Even if similarities exist at the macro level and allow you to form global conclusions, don't forget each customer is unique.
Below, you'll find a few tips that have proven to be worthwhile.
Be subtle and give the prospect some freedom
If the prospect doesn't feel confident in their choice, or trapped into one option, there's little chance of a successful sale. They need to feel the final decision is theirs and theirs alone, based on their own product research and needs.
Therefore, the salesperson should be open and flexible. Presenting the prospect with several choices, and as much freedom as possible in customising the offer, is key to empowering them during the sales process.
Let's talk about this in more concrete terms. Here are some examples of opportunities where the salesperson could offer the prospect flexibility:
- Customization of features and functionalities to achieve a tailor-made, unique product offering.
- If your product is based on a subscription model, offering multiple tiers allows prospects to adjust their spend according to their budget and their business needs.
- Payment terms, like deadlines.
But one thing that shouldn't be compromised is the trust you build with your prospect. Maintaining transparency throughout the sales and closing processes is key to building a trusting relationship.
The summary close
The summary close is a very useful closing technique, especially in B2B sales where sales cycles can be long.
This technique is based on a hard truth. In all likelihood, you're not the only tool the prospect is looking at.
So you'll need to take into account the advantages and drawbacks of your competitors, and the fact that your prospect may have forgotten all the benefits of your product as they researched other tools. Enter the summary closing technique. When using this closing technique, you summarise the benefits of your product/service and clarify your pitch.
This affords you the opportunity to check if the prospect has understood your product, service, and pricing. Plus, you can gauge their level of commitment–we'll go over signals to help you evaluate their interest level later in the article.
In fact, checking in on a prospect's commitment level is a general best practice as you progress through the sales process with a prospect.
If you're up-to-date on their level of interest and engaged in a healthy dialogue with the prospect about their concerns, you'll have the chance to address those hesitations as they pop up. That way, by the time you get to your summary close, you'll already have eliminated most of the objections, and the balance will be in favour of your company.
Eliminate the last obstacle head-on
Dispelling the prospect's doubts is important if you want to successfully close a sale. So you'll need to ask the prospect about any remaining obstacles, deal with them, and negotiate if necessary.
This technique consists in refocusing the sales pitch on the prospect's expectations. How do you do this? By giving your prospect the lead: let them talk, and listen carefully.
Sometimes getting the prospect to share is difficult, but there's a couple of ways to get them going. First, ask the prospect to list what could convince him to buy with a question like:
"What elements (features, benefits, payment terms or characteristics) would be the most compelling when making your decision?"
By inviting the prospect to list their needs, you'll gain valuable insight into what points to bring up when you're making your final argument.
Projecting into the future
This is an essential method that consists of leading the prospect to imagine life after the purchase, including your product's positive effects on their daily life and routines.
But for this technique to work, your product/service must be very reliable, or you risk losing the prospect's trust and attention.
Concretely, you can take action by:
- proposing a trial offer including the key functionalities or features
- giving a detailed, personalised demonstration that focuses on the prospect's challenges and needs
With this sales technique, you invite the prospect to imagine or literally experience an ideal post-purchase situation. As a result, you'll likely tip the balance in your favour.
When to close a sale?
Finding the ideal moment for the closing is not always obvious. There are always a few last obstacles to finalising the closing phase, so you'll need to take stock to find out what is holding up the purchase.
What are the signals indicating the closing is at hand?
Pay attention to the prospect's signals, some of which indicate they're ready to purchase. Here are a few examples:
The prospect is planning to buy
The prospect has been able to test the service, and that glimpse of its benefits was enough for them to indicate their desire to purchase.
Silences are meaningful
If your prospect doesn't speak after you respond to his or her objections, that's potentially a good sign, indicating you've successfully responded to their concerns. But, tread carefully. Silence can be synonymous with hesitation, in which case, you'll need to reassure the prospect without rushing them.
When the prospect is looking to negotiate
If your prospect is looking to negotiate, they are definitely interested. After all, it would be counterproductive to negotiate just for the sake of it. As you go back and forth, try to reach a win-win agreement.
Additional questions about the sales proposal
If the prospect asks very specific questions about the terms of sale, he's most likely still in the decision-making process. Be transparent, show empathy and patience to reassure them, and eventually you'll close the sale.
A generally favourable attitude
Some attitudes and reactions are difficult to hide, so paying close attention to the prospect's expressions and body language will help you to interpret where they are. Look for these signals in particular:
- nodding in agreement
- Tone of voice: if it's relaxed, this may indicate enthusiasm. If it's monotone, this may indicate your offer leaves him indifferent or even decisively disinterested.
- if the prospect leans towards you and smiles naturally
- an open posture, like facing you directly, with hands apart
- Eye contact: a prospect who seeks to catch your eye is usually engaged and feeling positive.
- Speech rate: an enthusiastic and satisfied prospect will show excitement through increased speech speed and agitation.
What are the key skills to close a sale?
In order to put into practice all these tips, certain skills are essential:
- Know your product/service perfectly, otherwise you won't be able to handle objections effectively.
- Be in tune with your market. With this knowledge, you'll be able to anticipate trends, adjust your offer, and respond more specifically to the needs of your prospects.
- Empathy, and more globally, emotional intelligence will help you manage your own negative emotions and better detect and understand the emotions of your prospect.
- Active listening will allow you to understand the needs and interpret the reactions and emotions of the prospect to provide an adequate response.
- Persuasiveness: find the right pacing and arguments to successfully persuade your prospect without making them feel rushed to the sale.
- Perseverance and patience are essential. You will inevitably face difficult or exhausting situations, but it is important to keep working, if only to understand what went wrong in case the sale fails.
Closing: What are the mistakes to avoid?
Below we have listed what practises you need to avoid to make a successful closing.
The forced sale ❌
Gone are the heady days of the 1980s when the only objective was to sign contracts, no matter the cost in terms of reputation or loyalty. Now prospects are bombarded with advertisements, messages from other salespeople, and more. So, empathy is a must.
Though your end-goal is obviously to make a sale, you should think of and present yourself as an advisor to the prospect, guiding them in the decision-making process. This will help the prospect to maintain their free will. Unless they feel secure in their own free will, they won't convert.
In conclusion, don't be aggressive. You'll scare the prospect away and potentially tarnish the company's reputation.
Not identifying or dealing with objections ❌
If you don't address your prospect's objections, the risk of failure will be greater. Make sure to communicate with them–even question them–regularly and thoroughly so you can understand their expectations and needs.
Failure to meet commitments ❌
Were you supposed to call your prospect back or send him a summary email? Not following through can have a strong negative impact on your relationship, even breaking the trust you've built. So stick to your deadlines and commitments.
Yes, sales cycles can be long, but there is no point in letting them draw out unnecessarily. Lay out all the necessary groundwork, then avoid phrases like "take time to think, and come back to me."
Be proactive and if the customer hesitates (which is normal), help them articulate the reason for their hesitation. Is it the price? Is it the onboarding process? Security? Legal constraints?
Once you have identified the obstacles, reassure them by giving them the clearest possible answer and ideally an actionable plan for how they will be addressed.
Which tools to use for the sales closing?
There are many, many different options when it comes to sales support tools. You will find software for each step of the process, from prospecting to closing, including building. Here is a selection of the best tools for closing:
- Electronic signature and sales proposal software like GetAccept, which will reduce delays and returns due to contractual issues.
Summary of the closing process
Closing is the final step in the sales process, and is a delicate and crucial moment when a prospect converts to a customer. There is no one way to close successfully, but there are some tips you can apply, such as
- Be resilient
- Address all objections
- Employ the summary closing technique
- Identify verbal and body language signals
- Keep commitments
- Avoid forcing sales
Equip yourself with the right tools to optimise your sales process and especially the closing (for example, a contract management and electronic signature software, a virtual demo tool, a call transcript tool, CRM, etc.).
To learn more about the communication and analysis tools that can help you throughout the sales process, browse our many on the subject or for free.
FAQ on sales closing
What does closing mean in sales?
Closing in sales is when a prospect agrees to purchase, signs the contract, and completes the payment, officially converting from a prospect to a client. The closing is a key moment, the culmination of the sales cycle and all the work the sales team has put in.
Closing sales is extremely important because it allows salespeople to make their quotas and businesses to grow their revenue. In short, without closing sales, a business cannot grow or even survive.
What are the 4 types of sales closes?
Four types of sales closes are:
- The summary closeOne of the most effective closing techniques, the summary close involves summarising the product features so the prospect easily understands all the advantages they will receive. To successfully employ the summary closing technique, you must know what the prospect needs to accomplish with your product. If you're armed with that knowledge, you'll be able to focus on the advantages that most appeal to the prospect and will be more likely to convert the prospect.
- The urgency closeAlso known as the Now or Never Close, this technique depends on a limited-time offer that puts pressure on the prospect to buy now, or risk missing a discount or promotion. If your sale has stalled and you need to bring back momentum, this closing technique is a great option. However, don't make the mistake of thinking a discount or promotion is a substitute for the overall value proposition of your product. You'll still need to address your prospect's needs and how your product will resolve them in order to successfully close the sale.
- The assumptive closeWith the assumptive close, you assume from the beginning that your prospect has an intent to purchase, without forgetting to maintain clear communication throughout the sales process. You'll need to constantly check in with your prospect to affirm your product and service has met their needs and expectations. Don't be afraid to ask about objections either, so you can assuage the prospect's concerns. If you combine careful communication with a positive outlook, the closing process will have an authority and intimacy that gives you a higher chance of conversion.
- The sharp angle closeThe sharp angle close is a technique that leverages the negotiation process, which can at times be a frustrating part of closing a sale. Often a prospect will ask for a perk or discount during the contract negotiation. This is where the sharp angle comes in. If you feel the negotiation is coming, get the necessary approvals from your manager before taking the meeting with the prospect. Once the prospect makes their ask, you'll be able to say “No problem, but if I do that for you, will you sign the contract today?”
In all likelihood, the prospect will be taken off-guard because they won't expect you to agree so readily, and because of the timing you've proposed. This gives you the chance to change the sales closing timeline and please the prospect by giving them a discount or promotion.
These four categories are among the main sales closing techniques. Try out one of these techniques, or a combination of them, in order to raise your conversion rate.
How do you close on a sale?
Here are the top 12 tips to close a sale and successfully convert a prospect to a customer.
- Confirm you've got the right person. This is a key step at the beginning of the sales closing process. You will need to verify the prospect is qualified, that your product can successfully resolve their pain points, and perhaps most importantly, that your contact is a decision-maker.
- Pitch yourself as a solution, not just a product. You can probably list all the features of your product. But that's not enough to close the sale. You need to put your product features into the context of the prospect's work life to show the positive impact they will make. What are the results each feature will bring about, and how will it resolve an annoyance the prospect must contend with on a daily basis? This is how you bring meaning to your sales pitch and elevate your product over other options.
- Write out a mutual-success plan. A mutual success plan outlines all the steps and accomplishments necessary to convert a prospect within a certain time frame. This is especially useful if your prospect has a deadline of their own. You should take into account post-sale activities like the onboarding process, in addition to the steps of the closing process. This will help you have a more global understanding of your client's situation and thus create a greater understanding with them.
- Use asynchronous and . This tip goes hand-in-hand tip #1, being persistent. If you use omnichannel communications, you'll have more options to contact the prospect in the ways which best suit them. This will help to keep you top of mind even as the prospect investigates and exchanges with your competitors.
- Create a sense of urgency. If you can offer the prospect a time-sensitive discount or promotion, they'll feel like they have a greater amount of leverage in the situation. But be careful not to rush the prospect, as that is one of the quickest ways to alienate them.
- Address objections head-on. If you don't shy away from the client's concerns, you'll establish a greater trust. In the end, a great relationship can go a long way in closing a sale. Asking about objections and concerns also allows you to understand the client's needs, and communicate to them how your product is a real solution for the pain points they struggle with.
- Offer a free trial if at all possible. Allowing the prospect to experience your product and enjoy its benefits without cost is a great way to create attachment. Once they see how your product truly makes their work life easier, it will be difficult for them to imagine turning to life without it.
- Be straightforward and ask for the sale. Just showing and telling the prospect about your product and its benefits is not enough. You are here to make a sale–and the prospect likely won't bring it up themselves, so ask for it. Just be sure your timing is right. If you've demonstrated understanding of the prospect's concerns and objectives and have shown them how your product addresses them, the time is ripe.
- Employ empathy and flexibility. If you listen to the prospect, you'll be able to empathise with their difficulties and ultimately, adjust as much as possible to their needs.
- Never forget honest communication is key. If you have good communication through the sales process, you'll have a trusting relationship with the prospect. The prospect will feel comfortable confiding their concerns to you, so you'll have the chance to get to the bottle of any obstacles to the sales closing.
- Take advantage of timing. If you're in constant communication with your prospect and empathetic to their feelings, you'll be able to identify the right moment to push for the closing. Giving the prospect a sense of urgency through a limited-time promotion can be a way to manipulate timing, but be careful not to rush the prospect. Making the prospect feel rushed risks breaking the trust between you.
What is a good sales close?
A good sales close is a matter of a few simple elements. You'll need to be prepared, respond to any objections or concerns, be direct in asking for the sale, then follow up until the closing is completed.
To be prepared, you'll need to ensure your contact is a qualified decision maker, and research the company so you have the context to understand their concerns.
Being prepared will also include knowing your features and benefits so that when the prospect expresses their concerns, you can pinpoint what aspects of your product will resolve them. Having that quality of communication with the prospect will allow you to establish a trusting relationship. That way, when you ask for the sale and follow up, the prospect won't see it as an imposition or too aggressive.