Marketers need to put on their sales hats when closing deals for service contracts. So much pressure. A lot is riding on getting buyer agreement. And even the best marketing professionals can misstep. Here are six closing principles to help you Close Deals Faster.
Closing Principle #1: You cannot close until the buyer is ready to buy
If you do try to close before the buyer is ready, it will almost always signal to the buyer that you are too “pushy.” From neuroscience studies, the image of the pushy car salesperson will flash up in the buyer’s mind and they will attach that image to you. You now have at most a five percent chance of ever making the sale to this buyer. Experienced salespeople will never try to close before the buyer is ready. They know the negative impact it creates in the buyer’s mind.
Closing Principle #2: Most buyers will almost never close themselves, even when they are ready
Once buyers decide to buy, they quickly become frustrated with sellers who do not recognize that they are ready. The window of opportunity to close the deal is short. If you miss this short closing window or are timid at this point, you have a 90 percent chance of losing the sale. I recall when my wife and I were planning an addition on our house. We were so impressed with the second of three contractors we interviewed that we were ready to sign with them. The architect pushed their proposal across the table to us and said, “I guess you will want to think about this for a week or two?” We went with the third contractor.
Closing Principle #3: The combination of the conversation and the buyer’s body language tells you when the buyer is ready (buyer’s shift)
This ability to recognize the buyer’s readiness to buy is the most critical principle of all. You need to watch and listen for the buyer’s shift – when the buyer changes their point of view and decides to go with your solution. You will get some verbal signals, but the shift is predominantly communicated by nonverbal signals. Body language is the most telling indicator. It accounts for 55 percent of the signals and the dialogue accounts for the other 45 percent.
Often, if you look and listen carefully, you will notice multiple buyer’s shift signals occurring simultaneously. If you see a mismatch between what the buyer is saying and the signals from their body language, always believe the body language. Body language almost always conveys a person’s true feelings and it’s not too hard to see what the body is saying. If there’s tension, they’re not ready. If they’re relaxed, they’ve shifted.
Closing Principle #4: Buyers want a definitive closing proposal
When it comes time to propose the close, buyers do not want a long story. They don’t want a two-paragraph close. Buyers want a clear closing approach. And they want you to be in charge of this part of the conversation. If you sense that the buyer is ready, it’s time to use an appropriate closing approach. There are many of these, yet most buyers at this point respond positively to a direct closing approach: “Joe, would you like to wrap this up on June 15th?” There is no ambiguity. You have directly asked for the sale. Buyers expect you to ask for their business, so don’t disappoint them.
A good way to think about more complex closings is closing the next step. As you go through the sales process, many small closes should occur that will keep the sales process moving forward. Examples of these are: setting a date for the next meeting, sending additional information that the buyer agrees to consider, and giving yourself an action item so that you have created a reason for the next meeting.
Closing Principle #5: Once you make the offer, be silent until the buyer responds
After you ask for the business, it’s imperative that you say nothing until the buyer responds. Everyone on your side needs to stop talking at this point. I cannot tell you how many sales calls I have gone on with a technical person in tow, who talks after I have made a closing approach. That interruption takes the buyer off the hook without having to say anything. A very experienced buyer will also know this principle and sometimes remain silent.
In most cases, buyers are not being silent as a negotiating technique. They are just analyzing, thinking, processing, considering and/or comparing. They may be comparing your offer to what others have offered. They may be projecting what their CFO may say about the cost. They may be thinking about a lot of things. And if you interrupt their thinking, they’re no longer THINKING! In addition, when you interrupt a buyer’s thinking, you will come across as rude. Now there is literally a zero chance of getting the sale.
Closing Principle #6: Once the buyer has agreed, QUIT TALKING ABOUT THE DEAL
Thank the buyer and shift the discussion to weather, news, or sports. Buyers are busy; it’s time to go. Not only that, the best way to “unsell” a closed deal is to keep talking about it. The buyer may discover some aspect of your offering that needs further discussion, delaying the sale. Here’s an example that I saw happen. After the buyer agreed and they shook hands, the salesperson said, “Thanks, this will be so great. It will be our first time using this technology platform!” (The buyer literally groaned.) Then the buyer responded, “Did you say this is your first time?” The seller sheepishly nodded. The buyer replied, “I need to rethink this.”
These six closing principles can help you with even the toughest of buyers. Start using them now and move ahead of your competitors.
About the Author: John Asher, author of Close Deals Faster, is the CEO of Asher Strategies, a high-level growth strategy consulting firm focused on improving sales for business-to-business companies. Asher is the #1 rated speaker on sales for Vistage, a worldwide network of CEOs. Over the last two decades, he has mentored a large cadre of speakers and trainers that has fueled the growth of ASHER.