In all my years, I have eschewed trying to teach "closing." Not because I feel it is unnecessary, but because, all too often, the problems I am asked to fix in a business are far bigger than whether or not an entrepreneur can ask for somebody's business.
Nonetheless, if there was ever an art in sales, it is how to transition from the presentation to the close. Years ago, I was taught the basic sales system to sell encyclopedias door-to-door and still, volumes have been written about this and closing is still one of the most misunderstood concepts in sales. At its best, it can be awkward, at its worst, it can be painful. In your business, you may not even view yourself as a "seller" in the classic sense, but there still comes a point when you have to close, be it on a cup of coffee, an oil change, or a new piece of software.
Can you do it? Of course you can - and a few of you are wondering why I would spend time on this most basic of business ideas.
Simple - most people do it poorly!
Let's take a few minutes in these pages to think about, review, and list some of the most critical things that too many entrepreneurs forget about when it comes time to make the sale. As you read, understand that these notes are geared towards you, as the sales professional, having put forth some time to present something to the prospect, not having just hit them with an elevator pitch. Just because the poor soul is in front of you at the coffee shop doesn't mean you need to be strong-arming him for a sale.
- Smoothly transition from presentation to close. If you have been rolling right along in a friendly style, then shifting to an adversarial style to close is just harsh. Remember, closing is a part of the presentation, not an exception to it.
- Qualify your audience and make sure they know they are a good fit. Simple phrases like "Here's who this works for..." or "The ideal scenario is..." and make sure they see that they fit that description.
- List the benefits of the product or service. In the presentation, you undoubtedly discussed the features (didn't you?), now you need to switch to benefits. The feature is the "Rich Corinthian leather" - the benefit is "it is super comfortable." They aren't the same and one man's benefit is another man's liability.
- Reveal any bonuses and volume discounts. If you have an add-on, now is the time to discuss it, but NOT as a retort to a pricing objection. Like benefits, you are using this to sweeten the deal, not close the sale.
- Reveal the price. Don't make it too hard for them to buy!
- Reveal the justification. This is not about objections, this is about restating specific value points. If your price is higher (or lower) than similar offerings, then why is that?
- Mitigate risk. Again, you are still building value here - showing how they cannot lose in this deal because of the success rate of your customers, the guarantees offered, or the monthly pricing structure and lack of a contract.
- Summarize the offer. You might have been talking for more than an hour in a larger presentation, so being able to effectively summarize the "whole enchilada" in a specific bulletized screenshot or powerpoint is a great way to bring it all together.
- Give your call to action. This is where most closings go awry. People never ask for the business. You need a specific point in the presentation where you actually ask for the business. It could be something simple like, "All we need to do to get the process started is your name right here on the agreement and my team is ready to get started." (Pro tip - unless you have to, don't call it a contract - it has a negative connotation with many people who aren't used to dealing in them.)
- Shut your mouth. I can't emphasize this enough. The first one to talk after number 9? They are the loser. If the client asks for you to clarify something after #9, then you are now able to just effectively negotiate the details of the agreement. You can still botch it, but most of the time, you can effectively move them from prospects to clients.
Don't think too hard about all this - the best time to close new clients is to have a powerful marketing strategy that reassures them that you and your company are ready and capable of providing the products or services they need. In many cases, there is no need to "sell" something, you should have led the prospect right down the garden path to a product or service that is easy to buy, beneficial to use, and offers specific attributes that they will find hard to resist.
As with so many other things, creating the system to educate your prospect can make "hard" closing a thing of the past and put more money in your pocket.
Isn't that what it's all about?