Four rules of thumb that will help you become a better closer
  • sales
  • Blog post

Four rules of thumb that will help you become a better closer

Closing is easily the most nerve-wracking part of the sales cycle for most salespeople. It’s also the most misunderstood. We reviewed several top authors’ thinking on “The Close” and came up with four rules of thumb:

1. Think of closing like a marriage proposal
(from Tony Allessandra, author of “Non-manipulative Selling”)

Asking for someone’s business should be like asking someone to marry you: If you’re worried about the answer, don’t ask. You’re premature.

The reason closing is seen as so distasteful by many salespeople is that they draw an imaginary line between “selling” and “closing.” In nonmanipulative selling, there is no such line. You’ve developed a relationship with the buyer, probed to determine his or her needs, demonstrated how your product or service fulfills them – you’re doing business together already – and the close is the natural next step. In fact, let’s call it the “confirmation.” No stress. No manipulation required.

Rather than “closing,” use an open question with direction, such as “Where do we go from here?” “How would you like to proceed?” or “What’s our next step?”

This is a straightforward, honest request. Since your prospect has participated fully and agreed on the solution, you will often be answered with a time or a date.

2. Fear of closing is a learned behavior — unlearn it!
(from Tim Breithaupt, author of “10 Steps to Sales Success”)

Many salespeople – even when they’ve successfully navigated through the previous steps of the sale – still fail to ask for a buying decision.

The reason is fear: of rejection, of sounding silly, of failure, of upsetting the customer. Psychologists say that the fear of asking is learned through negative conditioning experienced as early as childhood.

However, because it is a learned condition, it can be unlearned. Closing sales demands an attitude of confidence, expecting the customer to say yes. When the moment is right, just do it. Ask for the sale.

3. Don’t jump the gun
(from Brian Azar, author of “Your Successful Sales Career”)

If you’ve qualified and uncovered the pain, discovered the budget, established who makes the decision, and proven yourself, the close is easy. But don’t jump the gun. A buying signal from a prospect doesn’t always mean he or she is ready to close – test it with responses like these:

Prospect: That’s fantastic.
You: What’s the most fantastic thing about it?
Prospect: I really like that feature.
You: What specifically do you like?
Prospect: This would really solve my problem.
You: Tell me how…
Prospect: What about follow-up service?
You: Good question. What specific area would you like me to address?

4. It’s really about the long-term relationship
(from Stephen Heiman and Diane Sanchez, authors of “Conceptual Selling”)

The close is not the close. In fact, the future belongs to those who can sell beyond the close. Keep in mind that this call is only one step in an extended scenario and a long- term relationship. Once you pull down the order and the commission, you have to think of that order too as only part of a much longer selling process.

A final thought
Swedish consultant Hans Stennek once told his friend Neil Rackham, author of the book Spin Selling, “I’ve never been a believer in closing because my objective is not to close the sale, but to open a relationship.”

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