Closing techniques: A key factor in sales success | Sunday Observer

Closing techniques: A key factor in sales success

Anyone involved in selling understands that the closing stage of the selling process is the most important and probably the most difficult part.

More often than not, salesmen fail at this stage due to fear and the lack of understanding of the significance of closing techniques. Even if the salesman is highly skilled in communication, if he falters at the final part of the process, the prospect will not make the buying decision. The importance is doubled because the sales person has to carefully balance the act by not being too smart and aggressive or sense of fear to close. This demonstrates weakness and lack of confidence about the product or service on offer.

Most of the time, closing comes after a tedious process of going through a communication routine. Closing is the point where the seller asks the prospect to make the actual purchase. This is also the time where the prospect hesitates or tries to reevaluate before making the commitment. This is why a salesman must prepare properly to face this contest by learning a few strategies. If the prospect rejects your product at this stage, it is virtually impossible to revive his or her decision.

Communication skills

Contrarily, even if the buyers are satisfied with the seller and the product, they delay the buying decision due to dissonance and lack of confidence. A skilled salesperson subtly assists the prospect to make the purchasing decision more easily. Persuasive communication skills along with proper knowledge of selling techniques can be of tremendous assistance to the salesman to close a sale.

Persuading a prospect to purchase a product or service is not an attempt to manipulate him to make a decision which he does not want. In fact, the basis of selling is to understand the need of the buyer and satisfy that need. Persuasion is a skill to assist someone to make a decision and not ‘making’ someone take a decision. The key factor to remember is that the best moment to close a deal can occur during any stage of the selling process. Along with experience, learning closing techniques is vital for salesmen.

Let us look at some of these methods:

Identifying the real need of customers and providing advice to the customer or ‘The Needs Close’ is one of the techniques most used by me in my long career as a salesman. Listing the prospects needs and understanding them before the negotiation begins will immensely help this technique. Your knowledge about the prospect’s needs and wants will make him happy and it will help him to conclude easily. Points that are listed as needs and how your product can be beneficial to those will close the deal comfortably.

In a selling situation, ‘The Objection Close’ can be used very effectively. When your presentation is over, the prospect invariably raises objections by asking questions or by making comments. If he does not, it is a clear sign that the prospect is not interested in the product. In this situation, the sales person can bring up questions himself and answer them efficiently until the prospect is impressed. This stage of the process is probably the easiest time to directly ask for the order and close the sale.

‘Assumptive close’ is a popular and relatively easy technique for a sales person to adopt in a negotiation. At the first opportunity to close, the salesman acts as if the deal has been made. This technique is used when the prospect has gone through most of the details and is ready to purchase. ‘Assumptive close’ is successful because the sales person does not extend time for the prospect to call up any more issues or objections, disallowing him to back out of the deal.

Drive a bargain

‘The take away close’ technique seems risky, but works well depending on the prospect’s behaviour. This technique works when you are on the verge of closing but your prospect is reluctant and hesitant to proceed further. This can happen because of further doubts or if the prospect wants to drive a bargain. A skilled salesman identifies the correct mentality of the prospect before complying.

The salesperson offers to withdraw and retreat. By this action, the sales person shows his confidence about the offer. By this method, you can also identify whether the prospect is a time-sink and whether he is taking your time without progress.

Sometimes prospects procrastinate without a real reason although they have made up their minds to purchase. An experienced sales person creates a sense of urgency in the prospect by using various tactics such as offering reasons such as discounts or that the stocks are diminishing. This is called ‘the urgency close’. Most often the salesperson makes a special offer of discounts; add on or extended warranties to complete the sale.

Alternative choice

‘Summary close’ is a commonly used technique by many sales persons throughout the world. This is similar to a well executed closing argument delivered by an Attorney in a court. Without bringing in new facts, the salesman methodically runs through carefully lined up information. He summarises the details, pointing towards a logical conclusion. This usually is done after an extensive discussion and evaluation. However, it is imperative that the salesman combines this close with the assumptive close technique to bring the negotiation to a successful end.

Giving an alternative choice can help salesmen to close a deal in some situations. ‘Alternative close’ is a variant of the assumptive technique where the salesman offers two different preferences to the prospect to move forward by assuming that he has already made the buying decision. Whichever choice the prospect selects, the salesperson is invariably close to the completion of the deal.

This technique is best suited when you have overcome objections successfully and when the prospect has no further queries. Through this move, the salesman simplifies the decision-making for the prospect.

At the start of a sales negotiation to sell a product, the prospect usually is neutral, genuine and unbiased. If the salesman was successful in the previous steps of the selling process, completing the deal with testimonials is a powerful technique.

Testimonials establish credibility, stability and trust with the prospect which are salient features in a business relationship. Sharing experience and success stories of actual users with evidence will be tremendously beneficial. Existing customer references and credentials dispel any doubt the prospects may have at the final stage.

There are more methods and techniques to assist salesmen to complete a sale. However, these techniques should be applied taking into consideration the individual behaviour of the prospect, type of product, prospect’s needs and the selling situation. The art of closing a sale comes from experience and practice and none of the methods will work if you do not consciously practise constantly.

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