How to encourage customers to invite you to close the sale
  • sales
  • Blog post

How to encourage customers to invite you to close the sale

What’s your goal in any sales presentation? Isn’t it getting the customer to “invite” you to close the sale?

Getting that coveted invitation is about gaining your customer’s full participation toward a shared objective, says consultant and sales coach
Ronald Karr.

Sounds easy but isn’t. For most decent salespeople it happens occasionally. But the very best somehow manage to get “invited” over and over again. How do they do it?

Our research reveals four strategies that winning salespeople employ instinctively. You can learn them, too:

1. They’re not put off by No
“No” answers come early and often in your discussions with potential customers, even in situations where you eventually get the business.

That’s just because “no” is the lowest risk answer. When people are not yet convinced to make the commitment to buy from you, they’ll say “no” – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the sale.

What it means is that the customer perceives that something is missing. You overcome this by making a value-adding proposition in one or more of these areas:

  • Improving top-line revenue or profitability.
  • Improving productivity and saving time.
  • Reducing internal or supply chain costs.
  • Gaining a competitive edge overall, or in specific market segments.

2. They ask issue-based questions
What kind of issues is your customer facing in any or all of these four areas?

Issue-based questions garner time and attention and almost always evoke answers that tell you where customers want to go.

They focus the discussion on the customer rather than the sale.

Here’s a good example: “You’re having a reject rate as high as 4%? That really runs up your costs, not just in materials but in production time. The customers I work with generally keep rejects below 1%. They couldn’t compete otherwise.”

You’ve displayed your in-depth knowledge of the product, the process and the industry. And you’ve demonstrated that you’re a potential resource – someone who’s more interested in meeting their objectives than in overcoming their objections.

3. They ask clarification questions
Make sure you understand exactly what your customer has told you about major areas of concern.

If you’re at all uncertain of what to correct or address, probe further into this area. Coming up with a great solution to the wrong problem isn’t going to move the sales process along.

Clarification questions also give you the opportunity to further demonstrate your expertise.

Example: “You say you want to reduce time-to-market. So how exactly do you measure time-to-market?”

4. They ask consequence questions
What would be the consequences of saying “no”? Would the cost of making the change you are recommending be higher or lower than the cost of not making the change?

If you can convince your customer that it would be lower, you’ve managed to establish the perceived value you’ve been striving for.

Moving ahead
When you’ve effectively asked issue-based questions, followed up with clarification questions and concluded with consequence questions, you’ve made customers realize that it’s in their best interest to move ahead with your proposal.

Now it’s time to close the sale. Some customers will need you to start the ball rolling.

But you’ll find many take the initiative, inviting you to close. They’ll also be inviting you to embark on something else – a mutually beneficial partnership and a long-term relationship.

Source: Ron Karr is a professional speaker, sales trainer and consultant. To learn more visit

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