Of all the sales opportunities you’ve had in the past couple of months, how many of those deals have just slipped away?
And how many have gone into a really long sales cycle—so long, you don’t even remember exactly where they are in the process?
You’ve probably been told that “sales is all about closing the deal.”
But in reality, this view of sales isn’t very helpful. In fact, it’s likely to be what’s causing your opportunities to slip away, and your sales cycles to drag on forever.
Prospects are very sensitive to closing techniques. When you just go for the hard close, they get turned off immediately.
In this video, I’m going to show you 6 critical tips on how to close the sale. Check it out:
PEP stands for pitching, enthusiasm, and persuasion. If you were to take all the key elements of old-school sales closing techniques and bundle it all into one concept, it would be PEP. And we’ve got to throw that out the window.
Prospects today are very, very sensitive to the PEP approach. They’re used to being pitched; they’re used to overly enthusiastic salespeople who are bubbling over with excitement about their offerings. They’re also used to persuasion techniques.
The first step to learning how to close the close is to drop the PEP—and instead, use an approach that makes you completely distinct from what your prospect expects.
2. Demonstrate authority.
If you introduce yourself to a prospect and say, “Tell me about your business. I’d love to learn more about what you do,” the prospect is going to say, “Why the hell should I do that? Who are you? Why should I be talking to you about my business, or about my life, or about what I do?” This reaction is actually quite reasonable. If you use this approach, then you fail to demonstrate any authority up front. Can you blame the prospect for not wanting to waste time talking to you?
Think of the ultimate example of this. Say you walk into a doctor’s office and the doctor says, “So, what brings you in today? Tell me about what’s going on.” This is a totally acceptable opening, because the doctor has built-in authority. Just by being a doctor, they already have authority—we don’t need them to tell us all about their degrees or every surgery they’ve ever done. But salespeople don’t have that. Not one bit. We need to demonstrate authority up front, because we don’t walk in the door with instant authority—far from it.
When it comes to being able to close the deal, it’s imperative that you’re able to demonstrate insight at the beginning of the conversation that gets the prospect to say, “Oh, okay, yeah, I’m willing to talk to this person. I see value here. I’m willing to open up.” That’s how you demonstrate authority up front, close the deal, and make prospects more likely to sign the contract.
3. Dig super deep.
Now that you’ve demonstrated some authority, it’s time to flip that switch and dig deep. Get the prospect talking, and riff off of every single thing they say to try to get them to go even deeper. You always want to think of your prospect’s challenges as an iceberg. What most prospects are happy to talk about is only what’s at the tip of the iceberg. But what you really need is to understand what’s going on at a much deeper level.
The key to being able to close a sale is to use spontaneous questions to go deeper and deeper with the prospect. These questions are what will help you to eventually understand (even better than they do!) exactly what’s going on in their world. Once you have this information, you can ultimately determine whether the prospect wants to do business with you—or with someone else. If you understand their challenges and their situation better than anyone else, they will go with you. So dig super deep.
4. No pitch.
Most salespeople today are still pitching to their prospects. I know I mentioned this before when I said to stop the PEP—but it’s so important that I need to say it again. Pitching doesn’t work anymore.
When you begin conversations with your prospects, do you start talking about yourself, your organization, what you offer, your products, your services? Are you basically just trying to ask for the sale? Do you have a PowerPoint slide deck where you present an About Us page? If you’re doing any of that stuff, it means you’re pitching. And you’ve got to stop, if you want to learn how to close the sale.
The goal of a selling interaction is to engage the prospect in a conversation—not to pitch or persuade them, but simply to engage them in a two-way dialogue. Throw out that early pitch, which is focused on you and your offering, and instead focus on demonstrating insight. At no point in the sale should you ever be doing a fancy pitch. Instead, just show that you can solve their challenges.
The key to closing the deal isn’t some fancy presentation or pitch, but rather, the “solve” phase of the sale. This phase comes after we’ve demonstrated some insight, and asked questions to understand exactly what’s going on in their world through disqualification. Now it’s time to demonstrate that we can solve their challenges. This doesn’t require a 50-slide presentation. Instead, you simply need to demonstrate that you can solve their challenges.
The shorter your presentation is, the shorter your solve phase is, the more likely you are to close the deal. (Of course, within reason, right? It can’t be one minute.) Most salespeople spend so much time on the presentation—and on the features and benefits of what they sell—when, in fact, all they need to do is demonstrate that they understand the prospect’s challenges and that they can solve them through whatever their offering happens to be.
6. Be N.S.O.
N.S.O stands for next step obsessed. Next steps are the big distinction between traditional selling and modern selling. Traditional selling focuses on the close at the end of the sales interaction. But most sales today are pretty complex, so if you’re going for that hardcore close at the end of the sale, you’re going to be getting a lot of think-it-overs. And that is the death of a sale.
Don’t focus on the close; focus on next steps. Chances are there will be other decision-makers, particularly in a large B2B sale, you’re going to have a number of steps in the sales process. Just focus on holding those steps together with very clear scheduled next steps that involve some type of calendar invite where the prospect accepts putting a next step on the books.
And this is true even for consumer sales. Always have next steps. Be N.S.O…next step obsessed.
So there you have it. Now you know 6 critical tips on how to close the sale. Which of these tips about closing the deal did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
More Critical Tips on How to Close Sales…
There’s no better feeling in sales than hearing your prospect say these magical words: “Yes, I’d like to move forward.”
It’s the beautiful sound you only hear when you close a sales deal.
Yet so many salespeople miss great opportunities to hear those magical words simply because they don’t follow a consistent sales process.
In fact, most salespeople don’t even know what key steps to take to close a sales deal.
It’s time for you to find out, so you can start hearing the sound of success a lot more often. In this video, I’m going to show you three absolutely critical steps to close a sales deal.
Bonus Step #1: Insight.
If you want to close a sales deal, insight is the first step. You must earn the discussion you have with prospects. You’re not just entitled to a great conversation. Insight is the key.
In today’s world of selling, many salespeople are focused on qualifying prospects and asking lots of questions. They think they can just start a conversation with a prospect by saying, “Hey, I’d like to learn more about your challenges” or “I want to understand more about your business.”
But if you’re a prospect who receives an email from a salesperson saying, “I’d like to learn more about your business,” what are you likely to think? Hell no. I don’t want to get on the phone with some stranger so I can teach them about my business. Go take a hike.
Instead, salespeople need to earn that discussion by demonstrating expertise. This is where insight comes in early on. You must demonstrate to the prospect that you are a true expert who can actually help them grow their business—so that way they want to tell you about their business. They understand that you’re going to help them improve it in some way.
The best way to accomplish this is to give the prospect real value up front. Demonstrate expertise by sharing actual valuable insight that makes the prospect think, “OK, you know what? I want to have a conversation with this person. This person has shared great information with me that makes sense.”
This is an important shift in effective selling nowadays. You need to be giving away something of value early on—and that comes in the form of real information. It could be data. It could be what we call a “whiteboard pitch.” It could be sharing key challenges you see in the prospect’s industry. You can share some case studies. You can share insight on the prospect’s particular business. You can even do some kind of complimentary audit of their business. Whatever it is, you want to share real information early on in the sales conversation to truly engage the prospect.
The whole purpose of sharing this insight is simply to engage the prospect in a conversation. But you must earn that conversation—particularly with high-level prospects. That’s the only way to consistently close a sales deal.
If you’re selling to low-level prospects (which you probably shouldn’t be, by the way) then it’s going to be easier to engage prospects in conversations just by asking them questions. But if you’re dealing with a high-level prospect such as a CEO, a CIO, or a VP, they need to see value first. So use insight as your first step to close a sales deal.
Bonus Step #2: Disqualify.
Salespeople have been hearing for years that they should be qualifying prospects. While qualification isn’t bad, it sort of misses the point when it comes to how to close a sales deal. After all, the goal shouldn’t be to try to get someone to be a fit. Instead, the goal is to disqualify those who are not a fit.
Top-performing reps spend more of their time with truly qualified prospects than they do on anything else. And that’s only possible because they’re willing to disqualify prospects. They move on. This requires a shift in mindset—a subtle but important shift where we focus more on understanding the prospect’s challenges by asking questions.
Again, the goal is not to get everyone to be qualified. Rather, you want to disqualify a bunch of people immediately and then focus on those who are truly a fit.
Disqualifying is a powerful tool to close a sales deal that will help you understand the prospect. Come at it from a place of thinking like a doctor. Start by understanding their challenges and then clarify their top priorities before assuming you are the one who can help them.
One of the key pieces here is understanding the cost of their challenges. This goes back to understanding top priorities. When you know the cost of a specific challenge, you understand whether there’s enough value in solving that challenge to justify the cost of your service. Ask prospects questions around the costs of their specific challenges—simple questions like, “What would you say that challenge is costing you right now?” If they say a small number, chances are they’re not qualified. If it’s a big number, they’re much more likely to be qualified.
Disqualifying in this way will help you avoid tons of objections down the road, and will enable you to weed out “think-it-overs” and time-wasters—so you can focus on actually closing sales deals.
Bonus Step #3: Drop the Pitch.
There’s a reason why solve is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to closing a sales deal. If you want to close a sales deal, you should focus on solving rather than presenting in the old-school selling sense. This is because you’re not just trying to pitch prospects or present to everyone with a pulse. Instead, you’re in the business of solving real challenges.
Whatever challenges the prospect mentioned in that disqualification conversation are exactly the challenges you want to be presenting to. In fact, you only want to present to those key challenges that you can solve. Don’t present other stuff, such as features or benefits that your offering has. Only focus on the challenges they have mentioned.
You’ve probably been in a selling situation before where the sale was on a good track and then you said something like, “Oh, and let me show you one other thing that we can do for you…” And then the sale suddenly started to fall apart, because the prospect wasn’t interested in that bell or whistle. They probably said something like, “Um, I don’t really need that. This isn’t relevant to me at all.” Then you had to backtrack and scramble to get things moving in the right direction again…
You can avoid situations like this by only presenting to the prospect’s challenges.
One of the most powerful ways to present to prospects is to use case studies. You can kick off presentations with quick examples that are similar to the prospect’s situation. It might sound something like this: “You know, we were recently working with a client who was dealing with these exact same types of challenges, A, B, and C—and here’s what we did.” Tell the story of when you fixed another client’s situation to demonstrate how you’re going to help them. The prospect can’t argue with a true story, because it’s a true story.
Use case studies as a way to springboard into the actual offering and what you’re going to do for them. This is an effective way to connect their challenges to the solution you’re presenting.
If you’re looking to close a sales deal, you should also be getting consistent feedback during the solve phase. This should be a two-way dialogue that helps to ensure the prospect is fully engaged. When you’re sharing information about a particular part of your offering, use “feedback loops” to make sure the prospect is on the same page with you. It might sound something like this: “What we’re planning to do here is A, B, and C. Does that make sense in your particular situation?” And then they’re going to just nod their head and say yes. Or you might say, “What we’re going to do here is X, Y, Z. Can you see how that would be useful for you?” They’re going to nod and say yes. That’s what getting feedback is all about.
And by the way, if they say, “No, that doesn’t make sense,” that’s a good response, too. You need to know if you’re not on the same page so you can course-correct. So much of the solve phase is making sure it’s not a one-way monologue where you just drone on about your offering. Instead, make it a two-way dialogue that truly engages the prospect and you’ll be on your way to closing a sales deal.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.