Closing the Sale - Timing is Crucial
Waiting until the end of the sales process before closing a sale is akin to waiting until the last ten minutes of a flight to Venus before making course corrections. In both cases, there is a very low probability of success.
It is of little value to wait until after presenting your product or service to begin applying "closing techniques". You must create a sound foundation for the sale throughout the sales process. Without that foundation, salespeople feel pressured and trigger prospects' natural resistance. The probable outcome is lost opportunities and lack of sales.
Top salespeople, the Top 1%, close at the beginning of the sale, and many times throughout the sales process:
- They spend most of their time with people able, willing, and ready to buy - these are High Probability Prospects.
- They only do business with prospects they respect, and who, in turn, respect them. These are genuine business relationships, with both parties mutually agreeing to move forward each step of the sales process.
- This Mutual Respect results in Total Disclosure of the prospect's needs, wants, and buying intentions - as well as Total Disclosure of the product's (or service's) benefits and limitations.
- Mutual Agreements and Mutual Commitments happen early, and often, throughout the sales process.
- These mutual agreements lead to Closed Sales. The 'Closing' is the sum total of the entire series of agreements. Closing must begin at the initial stages of the sales process.
During the sales process, almost any point of discussion provides an opportunity for a commitment. It's as simple as asking:
- "This system will produce at least 20% more sales by salespeople that utilize it. Is that what you want?"
- "Is it profitable to spend approximately $3500 per salesperson to achieve that magnitude of result?"
- "The system requires that your salespeople learn a new sales process. Is that acceptable?"
Each 'Yes' to questions like these is a commitment, and integrates 'Closing' throughout the Sales Process. Depending on your products and services, closing should occur between 25 and 45 times before consummating the sale.
If this sounds simple, it is. If it sounds easy, it is not. It requires preparation, so that every point of discussion is followed by a simple request for commitment or acceptance. It also requires a thorough understanding of a sales process that appeals to the way the human mind works.
By the end of the sales process, most prospects will have agreed that every one of your product's features is acceptable, and they also will have acknowledged your product's benefits to them. At that point, it is an easy, natural transition to ask the prospect what s/he wants to do to acquire your product or service. In most cases, the prospects will create the consummation of the sale. That is, they will design the final close for the salesperson's approval.
If this were a sales discussion, rather than an educational monologue, I would have asked for a commitment - a closing question - on each point. Go back through this article and see how many closing opportunities you can find.