SALES

Closing a Sale: 7 Mistakes to Avoid

Stop doing these seven things and you'll close more business. It's really that simple.
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Selling is pointless unless you're closing business, which is why it's important to hone your closing skills.  In a previous post, I explained how to close a sale. This post explains what not to do when you're closing.

1. Believing that sales materials can close business.  Your website, emails, and brochures are only useful insofar as they help you open a dialog with the customer.  With the exception of plug-and-play commodities (which can be ordered online), customers only buy after they've discussed their needs and assessed the value of buying from you.

2. Attempting to close too soon. The ABC rule (Always Be Closing) is horrible sales advice.  When you ask for the business too early in the discussion, it makes you seem pushy, which makes the customer LESS likely to buy.  Remember, it's a law of physics that the harder you push, more resistance you get.

3. Trying to close with the wrong person. In most cases, the real decision-maker is the operational manager who is chartered to make money or reduce expense. While the purchasing department may have go/no-go authority, it isn't responsible for making money or solving problems.

4. Twisting the customer's arm. This makes usually takes the form of a statement like this: "The price is usually $1,000 but if you buy today the price is $900."  Attempting to punish the customer for not making a decision on your timetable makes the customer wonder why you're so anxious to close the deal.

5. Waiting too long to close.  There's a natural point in a sales conversation where it's time to ask for the business. If you keep the conversation going beyond that point, you could easily end up raising issues that didn't exist before or problems that you and your offering can't solve.

6. Failing to notice the close. Customers sometimes signal that they're ready to buy right now. Example: I once called an appliance store asking to buy new dishwasher.  Rather than taking the order, the salesperson tried to get me to come down to the store and then referred me to their website.  I ended up buying elsewhere.

7. Selling after the close. When a customer has said "Yes!" it's always a mistake to continue to talk about your product or services.  Trotting out additional features and functions raises new objections like "I'm not sure I need that, so why should I pay for it?" In other words, shut up and take the order.

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IMAGE: plantronicsgermany/Flickr
Last updated: Jan 8, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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