When you get into sales, you’ve got to be committed. Without commitment, you can’t follow through with the sale, which is a crucial part of closing deals. Sales professionals don’t dip their toes into the sales waters, they dive right in and swim with the sharks. That level of commitment is what gets you sales. It’s what closes the deal.
This post is going to break down for you everything you want to know about how to close like a pro — from crushing your sales goals to learning from the mistakes that other sales professionals have already made — all in one nicely assembled article that you can reference anytime you want. These sales secrets come directly from industry pros that know their way around the block and back, blindfolded. If you really want to tap into your inner sales guru, read on to learn how to close like a pro.
Lesson # 1 – Set Attainable Sales Goals
If you plan on succeeding in sales, you have to set attainable goals for yourself. This is the only way to measure your success (and your failure). When you’re setting your sales goals, start small. If you bite off more than you can chew, you’ll find yourself choking on customers. Keep in mind that while sales quotas are helpful in that they provide a concrete goal for you to shoot for, however quotas can be anxiety-inducing for many people. This in some ways is a measure of one’s ability to work in sales, as you need to be able to meet certain goals within the department and the company as a whole. When you set attainable goals, you’ll have a better chance of closing because you’ll already know exactly what you want from any given sale.
Lesson # 2 – Master Different Closing Scenarios
If you really want to close like a pro, you need to master the various closing scenarios so that handle any type of customer and whatever they throw at you. It’s about being able to adjust your approach to closing a sale and adapting your closing scenario to the customer. Now, based on the customer, you may need to adapt several different scenarios before you can nail them down, but once you master each closing scenario, you’ll soon be closing like a pro whether it’s assumptive, conditional, or high-pressure. The following are specific types of closing scenarios:
A.) An assumptive close is when you meet with the client under the assumption that he or she has already agreed to sign the deal. You review terms & conditions with the customer and accept payment. This goes smoothly and is an ideal sales scenario.
B.) A negative close is one of the riskier sales scenarios, as you essentially turn the tables on the customer, casting them in a negative (but not insulting) light. You may even let it slip that your product or service is too good for them, but not dismissing them. If it’s the right client, this can pay off big-time.
C.) The compelling event close is a favorite of many contemporary salespeople, as you relay a story behind the pitch that builds a sense of urgency. This type of sales scenario is designed to get at their bottom line through the bottom of their hearts, relying on the emotional side of clients to get them to take immediate action. Another ideal scenario.
D.) The choice close is when you offer the customer a choice between, say, two different packages (i.e.; basic vs premium), which makes customers feel empowered, and in turn, alleviates the pressure put upon the salesperson because that proverbial ball is now firmly in the customer’s court. Options are always good.
E.) The conditional close is when a customer is “rewarded” for signing the deal. This could be anything from an introductory price to a discounted subscription or any other perk that could be offered on the condition that they sign the deal on-the-spot. While there are some customers that may be apprehensive about such offers, others will realize the value of a promotion when they see it.
F.) The high-pressure close is the one usually associated with salespeople. It is how salespeople are portrayed in popular culture. Some seem to think this style of selling suits the most confident salespeople (or rather the ones that are okay going in for the kill and whose ruthlessness precedes them before they enter a room). While not a popular sales scenario, it does produce results.
Lesson # 3 – What To Talk to Your Prospects About
A. Show Them What You Can Do For Them
When dealing with customers, you have to realize that whatever solution you are trying to sell to them, you have to let them know that you first understand their needs. Most customers could care less about the technical specs or any general marketing numbers; they want to know what your product or service can do for them. This is how the customer-slash-salesperson dynamic works.
There are various things you can do to assuage your customers’ apprehensions when it comes to mastering the art of the sale. Tell them, or better yet show them, exactly what they’re missing and how your product or service will meet their business needs. You may even reveal a solution to a problem they may not have even known they had or any potential problems that could otherwise be preempted with your product or service.
B. Make Your Presentation Sharp
Your sales presentation should be up-to-snuff, with an emphasis on relevant information that is relevant to the client and their needs. The first thing you can do is reveal the customer’s financial losses without your solution. Once a customer sees the stark contrast between using your product or service versus not, this makes for a great selling point. Again, you are showing them that you can meet their needs, and if they see in black-and-white the amount of money they could be saving, the more likely they will be to purchase. This can also work when you stress a lack of inventory. Everyone understands that when it comes to products, it takes raw materials, manufacturing, and assembly to create that final product you need. Because there is finite materials, there may be a shortage of supply or overwhelming demand, which requires customers to commit to a sale right then and there or run the risk of not getting their order. Remember, if you can tie this to how your product or service will solve their issue(s), they will likely sign on the dotted line.
C. Create a Sense of Urgency
Borrowing a play out of the conditional close playbook (see above), you want to press the sense of urgency with customers. If you give them too much time to think over the sale, the chances of you successfully closing that sale dwindle over that period of time. Sales should be short and sweet, which is why you want to make all your points, answer any questions, and move in for the close. Straight-up tell the customer that the offer only stands until such-and-such time, or is only available at the time of signing (car dealerships are fond of this type of promotion). The sense of urgency makes for impressive results as it makes customers feel like they got something special just for being there at the right time (when you’re running said promotion). You don’t even need to give specifics unless asked, to which you can give vague responses if you don’t have concrete info on-hand. You’re in sales, now go sell it. Likewise, you’ll want to stress when a promotion is ending. Again, it’s all about creating that sense of urgency to push the buyer into purchasing. However, that pressure can backfire and send the customer away if you do not use a bit of sales finesse.
Lesson # 4 – How to Communicate with your Prospects to Close More Deals
A) Honesty is the Best Policy
Customers appreciate honest salespeople because so many sales are forged on half-truths that sound good but many times are not. This is also true when it comes to disclosing how the sale will help you succeed, which you’ll want to let customers know is in their best interest. For example, if you’re closing a sale and you need that sale now rather than later, let the customer know that they’d really be helping you out if they decided to buy that day, which could mean the difference between earning enough commission to cover your rent and being homeless. In particular, if you’re trying to level with the customer about why they need to purchase that day, you start to scratch guilt-trip territory, whereby you compel the customer to sign the deal out of guilt (i.e.; Could you imagine what would happen to your company if XYZ happened tomorrow? Could you forgive yourself for not having this product/service?)
The whole honesty thing in sales is unexpected by customers because they’ve already bought into the stigma of salespeople being dishonest and self-serving, and when they get hit with some truth from your sales lips, they are taken aback before they give you their trust. This is when you know that they’re going all-in with your pitch. When you’re honest with customers, the trust that you gain is immeasurable and is something that you can’t afford to squander.
Being successful at closing sales is 90% about the relationship you build with a customer, and 10% about the actual product or service you’re selling.
Sales is about making connections with people and helping them succeed. This is the hallmark of a good salesperson—one that can understand the customer’s needs, actively listens, and genuinely cares about helping the customer achieve their goals, without having to “sell” them on anything.
B. Be Direct with Customers
When you meet with a prospect, you’re either going to bluntly ask for their business or you don’t. Obviously if you don’t get around to the fact that you want to do business with them, you won’t get the sale. If you want to succeed at sales, you can’t exactly be meek. Sure, you can get by in sales as introvert (that myth’s been busted many times over), but you can’t be meek, and by meek, that means you need to be clear and upfront with prospects and customers about what you need from them in order to do your job. This goes beyond just the pitch or any client meetings, this goes into any follow-ups you’ll do as well as the direction of your professional relationship with that customer.
Communication is always the key to a successful sales career, as you deal with people on a daily basis, trying to connect their business with your product or service. You have to know everything you can about what your selling and how it will benefit your customers. As a salesperson, you are expected to not only know all about it, you are also expected to be able to relay that information to the customer. That is your job. The better you communicate with the customer, the better chance you’ll have of closing that sale. Use plain language as often as you can. Even if you have a personally sophisticated vocabulary, try to keep it to the bare minimum and be direct with customers, as many people have no use for such flashy language. As for working in sales, this quality could brand one a “silvertongue”, which may or may not be advantageous to the salesperson.
C. Tone Things Down a Notch
When it comes to your sales approach, if you come off too strong towards the customer, you could end up scaring him or her away. The in-your-face sales approach works for some salespeople, but it’s been shown that customers actually appreciate a more reserved salesperson that doesn’t feel intimidating. When a customer feels intimidated by a particular salesperson’s style, it will be an uphill struggle to close that sale. Remember to lead with your best foot forward and don’t be aggressive.
Listen and understand what the customer needs, then provide them with solutions. You don’t need to a five-alarm fire in your pitch, your passion will show through in your presentation and you’ll engage the customer on an acceptable level that will lead you to the close of the sale. If you start to feel yourself going over the top, reel yourself in and tone it down a notch.
D. Check Your Ego At the Door
Salespeople are sometimes known for being braggadocious and ego-driven, qualities that most people find offensive, but are right at home in the world of sales. However, if you want to succeed at closing sales, you’d better check your ego at the door. The last thing you want to do is get into a spitting contest with a prospect or customer, as this will create tension and animosity between you, your prospect or client, and the brand you represent. You don’t want to lose a potential sale because your ego got in the way. (Remember, your ego doesn’t pay rent each month.)
If you’re someone who suffers from a giant ego, there are mental wellness exercises that you can do to curb that nasty ego of yours, which would be beneficial to anyone trying to close sales deals. Not to mention that many of the prospects and customers you’ll meet also have large egos, so you’ll have to be able to deal with that as well as keeping your own ego in-check. Don’t worry, though. You’ll be in control of your ego, which will make it easier to face another ego with confidence but not endangering any chances of closing the sale.
E. Stop Talking and Start Listening
The gift of gab does not elude most salespeople, and talking is a valuable asset for salespeople, who use their linguistic prowess to woo clients. Essentially, they talk a great game. However, only some use their ability to talk well but lack the chops to legitimately close any sales. For example, as a salesperson you might walk into a client meeting and you build some great rapport, but when it comes to the sale itself, your excessive talking overshadows the sale. You might ramble off on a tangent regarding a point the client makes, only to fail to bring the conversation back around to actually close the sale. Use your speech sparingly, and if you have the tongue for it, impress them with your words, but don’t forget why you’re there.
Lesson # 5: Getting to the Right Prospects that Can Help You Close the Deal
A. Choosing the Right Prospects
One of the most oft-made mistakes of fledgling salespeople is choosing the right prospects to pursue. Many times, salespeople are given a list of prospects to work through and it up to them to discern which ones are worth putting their time and effort into. As a salesperson, there is almost nothing harder to swallow than having wasted x-number of hours working on a client only to spin your wheels when trying to nail them down for a close.
If you’re having difficulty choosing the right prospects, talk with your sales manager and see if they can help you devise a system for weeding out those prospects that will eventually go nowhere from the ones that are legitimately interested.Once you’ve pinpointed the right prospects, now you can put all your time and energy into them, hopefully yielding better results. Success in sales can be a numbers game, but there is a science to it as well. If you make informed decisions about the prospects you choose to follow up with, you will save yourself time, stress, and a huge headache.
B. Getting Past the Gatekeepers
Business-to-business (B2B) sales can be difficult, especially when you typically need to navigate a barrier of “gatekeepers”, that is the people whom screen incoming contacts for the higher-ups in an organization. This includes front desk personnel, secretaries, and executive assistants among others, who will try to shut you down in a cold-call, try to redirect you for follow-ups, and deflect you whenever the boss can’t be bothered.
Most sales decisions are made by the company executives or each department’s respective manager. These are the big fish that you need to talk to.
If you get past the gatekeepers, you’ll need be on the top of your game when you speak with the proper person. You’ll likely only have one shot at getting their attention, so you have to make it good. Have your sales pitch perfected and ready to go the second they answer the line. Be sure that if you’re meeting them in person, to have your presentation in order and you are ready to crush it when you get in front of said executive(s). Their time is not to be wasted, and neither is yours, so hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em fast with the sales presentation, saving questions for the end. If you played your cards right, they will either express further interest or possibly even purchase immediately. Essentially, you don’t waste your time with the guppies when you’re hunting whales.
Lesson # 6: Assess What Is Helping and Hindering Your Ability to Close
A. Utilize Your Fellow Salespeople
Any good sales department runs their ship as a team, because it takes one another to lean on when things get tough. If you’re working on a customer and are having difficulty closing, ask for some help from your trusted coworkers. If it’s a strong team environment, this should be no problem. Do you know the expression “two heads are better than one”? That applies in sales because sometimes you need to have a second brain wrap itself around the sale to figure out how to close. Maybe you’ve exhausted all your ideas and simply need someone to review what you’ve done, or you may be looking for a mentor, a senior salesperson or manager that can help you sift through your approach to closing the sale. In the end, your sales team will be there for you to help you succeed. Likewise, be sure to make yourself available to help out your fellow salespeople when they need it.
B. Avoid Sales Meetings (If Possible)
While sales meetings are useful to ensure that the sales team is on track and making progress towards its goals, when it comes to closing deals, you want to avoid sales meetings like the plague. Sales meetings typically are tedious info-dumps that are meant to fire up the sales team, and oftentimes the meetings are not productive except for a handful of people (usually sales managers), and only serve as a distraction from your closing a sale. Instead, explain to your manager (or team) that you are working on closing a sale and need to skip the sales meeting to prepare for client meeting, which always outweighs the sales meeting. Keep in mind that this is not advocating skipping sales meetings, but rather avoiding them if you are actively working on closing a deal. Your sales manager will respect you for prioritizing and recognize your ability to get things done.
C. Is Your Reputation Helping or Hurting?
When it comes to sales, who you are and what you’re about matters a great deal. You have to maintain a good reputation for yourself as a salesperson, but also in representing your company as a whole. Salespeople most definitely earn money, but their real currency is their reputation, which can precede them long before they even enter a room with the client. If you’re a salesperson with a reputation for being abrasive, shifty, or brazen may not have a chance at getting in the door simply because of their reputation.
As the late-night comic Conan O’Brien once said, “Work hard and be kind, and great things will happen.”
On the flip side, if your reputation is one of integrity, amiability, and honesty, you may not have to work as hard to get in the door and make that sale. Your reputation is created by you and your actions. This includes how you look, walk and talk, and what you have done in the past. People judge others based on their reputation (if they have one already established). If you’ve worked hard at building your reputation up, you don’t want it to come crashing down over something you did in your past.
D. Stop Wasting Time On Social Media
Unless you are using social media to prospect, do research on clients, or other sales-related tasks, STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. Too many times, we fall into the rabbit-hole that is the Internet, particularly when it comes to Facebook, the Twitterverse, and all points in-between. Social media is a great way to escape the grind of the day, but again, if you’re not using it for work-related stuff, it is best to steer clear or you risk losing productivity and the esteem of your managers and colleagues.
That being said, social media can be a powerful tool for prospecting, marketing, and follow-up with clients. It is a great way to connect your brand with your audience. This is in no way discrediting what social media can do for your sales, but rather a warning that personal social media use should be forbidden when you’re working. Otherwise, post and tweet away if you feel like it’s helping you in your sales endeavors.
E. Review Your CRM Data
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs are especially useful to salespeople because they offer up bundles of data that help us do our jobs in sales. There are a variety of CRM applications available that can help expedite the customer service process, making it easier for salespeople to follow up with their clients, and ultimately keep them satisfied and continue coming back to your product or service.
Make sure to keep all your notes and activities in your CRM, so you can quickly reference past conversations before picking up the phone. If you get a prospect on the phone and can’t recall what their pain points are, or when the last time you talked was, you’ll definitely have a hard time landing the customer. We suggest trying an AI-Powered CRM, like Spiro, that does the data entry for you, so you can focus on closing more deals.
Lesson # 7: What to Do After the Close (Once You Sell It, Leave It Alone)
If you end up closing the sale, great. Congratulations! Now, leave it at that. Once the customer signs the sale agreement, the only question you should have for them is, “How would you like to pay for that?” You don’t want to keep trying to sell the customer when you’ve just sold to them. At best this can be annoying, at worst it could kill the business you just worked hard to gain. Revel in your recent moment of triumph and get out of sales mode once they sign the dotted line. There will be future deals you can strike with the customer when the time comes, but for now, relax. You’ve done a great job closing the sale. Use that knowledge and experience to close the next one. And the next one, and the next one…
So you made it to the end. We understand that this was a long post and we’re glad you stuck through it to the end. We covered quite a bit of territory when it comes to the many sales secrets that are out there, and while it’s meant to be extensive, this is by no means an exhaustive list.
If you still want to read more about closing, here are some other posts we’ve written on this topic:
6 Closes to Help You Crush Your Sales Goals
8 Ways to Close that Sale Now
5 Reasons You Didn’t Close That Deal
When You Should Use the “Negative Close”
5 Closing Mistakes That Salespeople Make
10 Things That Can Get in the Way of Closing More Deals