People develop reputations in the business world and in their workplace whether they realize it or not. These reputations run the gamut from high achieving and visionary to lazy and ineffective.

Particularly in the sales world, there's one reputation everyone seeks, but few rarely earn: "a closer." It's the woman or man who has that special touch when it comes to getting the customer to sign on the dotted line--even when the stakes are at their highest.

In large companies closers are found in highly specialized roles in the sales organization, but in small business and for entrepreneurs, everyone needs to be a closer. The survival of the business depends on it. In a previous article, I wrote about what it takes to go ahead and ask for business, but now it's time to focus on how to be a closer.

Here are five ways I've learned to close a deal like a boss.

1. Eliminate risk

When making a significant buying decision--either in your personal life or in business--most people weigh the risk of spending their hard-earned money vs. the perceived value they will receive from the product or service they want to purchase.

But if you can eliminate, or at least mitigate that risk as much as possible, you are in a much stronger position to close the deal. Some practical ways of doing this are offering a trial period, special promo rate or other value-added bonus. It simply puts people at ease.

2. Create scarcity

This is a somewhat more aggressive tactic than eliminating risk, but it can be just as effective. By creating scarcity for your product or service, you force the hand of the decision maker.

This can be done by limiting the supply of the products and services, including things like free consultations, you have available. In the end, the risk of alienating a few customers is far outweighed by strongly encouraging people to make a buying decision. You can't let people wait forever.

3. Create urgency

This is similar to creating scarcity, but with a static timeline in place for the buying decision. This has been used effectively for decades--just think about every promotion built around a season or holiday. "President's Day weekend only! All cars must go! Zero money down!" We've heard these a million times, but part of the reason for that is because they work. Urgency forces the buying decision for many.

4. Overload on value

This goes hand-in-hand with eliminating risk. If you can continue to add value without raising the price, you're nearly making it impossible for them to say no.

Of course you need to be careful here not to give away the farm. One of the best ways to add value is by offering service and support above and beyond what your competitors are willing to do. This provides your potential buyer with the belief they are getting a fantastic value.

5. Provide social proof

This is the salesperson saying, "Don't take my word for it, talk to our existing customers." This is a tried and true way to close a deal, and it's easier than ever because of social media and all the ways happy customers can endorse your product or service.

Testimonials from customers and others in the industry are often the final piece of the puzzle in closing a deal. Make sure to know up front who you will refer a buyer to for that social proof.

Of course, part of being a great closer is having a willingness to walk away if the deal isn't right. Some buyers will always ask for the moon, and it doesn't make sense to cave if it will ultimately hurt the business.

I've had to mold myself into a closer over many years, from creating a $100 million software company to raising more than $127 million VC money and hiring senior executives away from leading brands. Confidence and believability are hugely important in the closing process, but don't forget the tactics above. They could be the difference between a satisfied customer and a lead walking out the door.

Published on: Apr 28, 2016