I’ve been wondering lately why they call it “closing” a sale.

Closing sounds like you’ve reached the end of something: Turn off the lights, lock the door and move on. End of story.

Of course, that’s not what happens in sales. Closing is a beginning, not an ending. Your prospect has just become a customer – and the close is the first conversation you’re having with that customer.

Here are ten questions to ask yourself – before you sign the deal – to make sure you get off on the right foot:

  1. Have the customer and I agreed on outcomes?
  2. Are those outcomes clearly defined and captured in writing (e-mail, letter, contract, etc.)?
  3. How much time will I have to invest in this account to meet my customer’s expectations?
  4. Do I know why the previous vendor is no longer in the picture – and how I will avoid the same fate?
  5. What’s the most likely reason this relationship could turn out to be UNsuccessful?
  6. How will I keep that from happening?
  7. What’s on the line for the buyer? What’s at risk for her if I don’t meet her expectations? What’s the upside for her if I do?
  8. Whose expectations – other than my buyers’ – do I have to consider? What are those expectations and how will I meet them?
  9. If the customer is dissatisfied, will he tell me? If not, how will I know?
  10. Do I know what my next sale to this customer will be and how I will get there?

The number-one reason why new customer relationships go bad is misaligned expectations. Either the seller didn’t understand what the buyer wanted or the buyer didn’t understand what the seller could deliver. To turn a sale into an ongoing relationship, you MUST get this alignment.

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