Have you ever felt like you were talking with a strong prospect for your product or service but somehow the sales process stalled?

Here are the ten most powerful "action activators" to help you push through to close the sale.

1. Set an Up-Front Agreement. This powerful sales technique is used at the start of your sales conversation. Essentially what an up-front agreement has you do is to create the context that at the end of your sales conversation your prospect and you will give each other the courtesy of a clear decision about whether to proceed or not. Here is an example of this might sound.

"My prospect, here is the agenda I recommend for this conversation. First, I want to get very clear on your specific situation and needs. Then I'll give you my very best recommendation based on your situation about what I think best would help you meet those needs. If we're the best solution, I'll tell you that. If we're not, I'll point you in the direction that I think would best serve you. Of course I would like to be the one to help you, but I'm agreeing up front to do my best to counsel you on your best option moving forward. I do ask one thing in return. At the end of our time together I just ask that you give me a clear, direct decision as to what you want to do. It's perfectly okay if you tell me no, and of course, it's great if you tell me yes. All I ask is that you tell me one or the other, not "I'll think about it and get back with you". I promise to give you the same candor and direct input from my end. Are you willing to agree to this courtesy? Great, I appreciate that, so with that understanding, tell me about your situation..."

2. Tap Into the Fear of Loss. People do more to avoid a loss than to get a gain, so how could you strategically and intentionally design in the fear of loss into your sales process? This could include an offer with an expiration date, the addition of an immediate value add if they make the decision to proceed now, or even the introduction of competition for the scarce supply of your product, service, or even sales attention.

3. Turn Up the Pain. While it is great to build up the intensity of the future gain or benefit your prospect will enjoy as a result of purchasing your product or service, remember the cardinal rule of selling: People are magnitudes more motivated to get out of pain than to go from a comfortable feeling of the status quo to a higher level. So a real need in your sales process is to "turn up the pain". This means to help agitate and connect your prospect with all the emotional and visceral ways your prospect is suffering from the current status quo. Generally this is done in the form of probing question cascades like:

"Tell my Ms. Prospect, what is the real problem you're dealing with?"

"And if you were to just leave this problem alone, share with me how it is going to continue to get worse... And what would the cost of that be on your organization?"



4. Leverage Social Proof. People look to what other people like themselves (or like people they aspire to be) do in situations. We follow the lead. This is why market leaders tout the fact that they are the "largest" or "most popular" product or service. This is why stories that your prospect can identify with that share how a customer just like them made and benefited from the decision to buy are so powerful. This is why customer reviews on Amazon, Google, and Yelp carry such weight. Don't leave this up to chance. Intentionally layer social proof strategies into your sales process.

5. Lean on Authority. People look to the opinions and direction of experts and authority figures. Can you establish yourself as the expert and direct them to your product or service? Can you leverage a third party expert to legitimize your sale (e.g. a great review by an industry reviewer)?

6. Establish a Bond. How can you build rapport and the emotional and social connection with your prospect? This can mean taking the time to get to know them. Using self-deprecating humor to make yourself more approachable and real. Sincerely complimenting your prospect on something you observe about them. It's your job in the sales process to consistently build bridges of like and trust with your counterpart.

7. Engage Reciprocity. Never underestimate the power of a well-timed gift! The gift can be a physical thing, or it could be an intangible like extending yourself to make an introduction to a third party your prospect would love to meet. The key is that your offering has to be framed as a "gift" for it to work.

8. Press and Re-Press Your Prospect's Hot Buttons. If your prospect has told you their biggest pain point is the hassle their problem is causing them, keep reminding them of the hassle and inconvenience of the status quo. If your prospect's big hot button is the financial cost of the current situation, keep coming back to this hot button. There is a core principle of selling which says sell to your prospect's hot buttons. This means being prepared to sell to a spectrum of hot buttons, but then as you learn what your current prospect really cares about, narrow your sales presentation to be about that key thing.

9. Use Risk Reversal. The final way to set the stage before you close is to take away the risk to your buyer. This could be a quality guarantee; a performance guarantee; or even a commitment that come heck or high water you'll make things right with your new customer just like you have for all your past customers over the previous 23 years in business.

For example, for qualified business owners we coach, we guarantee that they will enjoy a 200 percent return on their coaching fees within the first 12 months or our service is free.

One CPA firm we coach promises to help its new clients realize twice the cost of their tax services in additional found tax savings the year they do a new client's first tax return. If they don't save you twice their fees that first year, you don't pay anything for their service.

If you believe in the value of what you offer, isn't there some way to lower your new customer's perceived risk to make it that much easier for him or her to say yes?





10. Ask for the Sale. Strange as it seems, too many sales weaklings shy away from directly asking for the business. Don't let this be you. Boldly ask them to buy. Confidently start to fill out the sales paperwork with them if you choose an assumptive close. Ask for and expect to get the sale.

So there you have 10 powerful ways to spark action and close the sale.

If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.

Published on: Apr 4, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.