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.
Check it out:
How to Close a Sales Deal 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.
How to Close a Sales Deal 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.
How to Close a Sales Deal Step #3: Solve.
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.
So there you have it. Now you know three absolutely critical steps to close a sales deal. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to share in the comments section to join the conversation.
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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.