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How to close a sales deal in 7 steps

How to Close A Sale
Closing sales in 7 steps (or less)
Sales closing techniques in different industries
6 tips and techniques for closing sales
Final thoughts

The ultimate goal of every sales professional is to close more sales.

Research from RAIN Sales Training shows that top sales reps don’t just achieve higher close rates (48% vs 37%), they do it with fewer touches. You can do the same.

In most cases, it’s a matter of refining your sales technique, i.e.:

  • Asking the right questions

  • Emphasizing the benefits of your product

  • Noting the alignment between product value and buyer objectives

  • Promoting a slight sense of urgency

By understanding which steps you should follow to close a deal, you can often shorten the sales process and win more deals.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to close a sales deal in seven steps (or less). We’ll also look at the different requirements to close sales in various industries and explore some well-established closing techniques.

Closing sales in 7 steps (or less)

You’ve selected your qualified leads and worked hard to understand their pain points. You’ve used your best sales pitch, demo or sales presentation to present a solution that will help solve their problem and move them along your sales funnel. Now it’s time to convert your prospect into a customer.

These seven steps will walk you through the basics of closing a standard sales deal.

  • 1. Send through the costs

    If you’ve yet to discuss price in detail, the first thing you should do is send your prospect an official sales proposal or quote. This is also a good opportunity to re-pitch your product or service by recapping how it will positively impact your buyer – especially if the sales cycle has been long or complicated.

    Whenever possible, try to provide your prospect with multiple pricing options. Often offering a free test drive of your product helps seal the deal, particularly in software and B2B sales.

    If you’re selling a SaaS subscription, for example, you might offer two or three differently priced plans. Consumer research shows that by allowing your prospect to make a value comparison, you can satisfy their desire to shop around and speed up the decision-making process.

  • 2. Ask for the sale

    If you’ve been thorough in your presentation and pricing, your prospect might be ready to make a purchase right now. That’s less likely to happen, however, if you don’t directly ask for the sale during your sales call.

    There are two main ways you can do this.

    • You can include a clear call-to-action in your proposal that makes it easy for your prospect to click on their preferred buying option and e-sign your contract

    • You can schedule a follow-up call or appointment to review the pricing information you’ve provided, answer any questions and ask for the sale then and there

    The way you word your request is important.

    You’ll close more deals faster, for example, by asking a close-ended (yes or no) question (e.g. “Shall I send you the terms and conditions?”) than you will with a vague, open-ended question (e.g. “So, what do you think?”).

  • 3. Address your prospect’s concerns

    Sometimes your buyer will want additional clarification or reassurance around the information you’ve provided, especially if multiple decision-makers or stakeholders are involved.

    LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2021 shows that, even though 60% of sellers say they always put the buyer first, only 24% of buyers agree.

    So, listen carefully, provide thoughtful answers in a timely manner and, when appropriate, ask probing questions. These will:

    • Encourage your prospect to elaborate on anything that isn’t working for them

    • Help you quickly drill down to the root of their hesitation

    • Enable you to gather information to effectively address their concerns

    You might, for example, say something like, “If I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds like you’re concerned about X. Have I got that right?” You can then move ahead with alleviating your prospect’s specific doubts by reiterating how and why your product is the right fit for their needs.

  • 4. Prepare to negotiate

    Even if you’ve done a good job qualifying your prospect, sales negotiation is a key part of the closing process.

    Your customer might have hesitations about:

    • Price or competitor offerings

    • Purchase timing or product fit

    • Reluctance to commit to change

    There are almost always ways to reframe a new customer’s perspective if you approach their concerns in the right way. Learning about and practicing overcoming sales objections should be part of your ongoing sales closing training.

    You should also have a clear idea of what concessions you’re willing (or authorized) to make when closing a sale, such as multi-item price discounts or free shipping.

  • 5. Use the right sales closing technique

    Different prospects require different closing techniques, so you might need to change up your sales strategy sometimes. Here are some examples of effective sales closing techniques.

    • If your prospect expresses price concerns, reduce their costs by removing certain product features or offer a value add-on like free delivery

    • If your prospect is hesitant to commit to change, allow them to try your product free of charge for a specified time

    • If your buyer has doubts about product fit, cite a specific example of what they stand to gain (e.g. “By signing this contract today, you’ll have reduced your administrative costs by X% this time next quarter”)

    Don’t forget to ask for the sale again at this point. Use a suitable, straightforward question like, “I can offer a special, reduced subscription term of six months. Can you commit to this plan today?”

  • 6. Follow up with your prospect

    If, despite your best negotiation efforts, your prospect asks for more time to consider your offer, you need to choose the best time to follow up.

    A good rule of thumb is to send a sales follow-up by email or phone after one or two days for single buyers, or four-to-five days for buying groups (to give them time to discuss the purchase decision).

    When you do reach out, make sure you summarize the highlights of your sales offering once again and remind your prospect exactly how your product or service will benefit them.

  • 7. Know when to move on

    If your prospect is still not ready to sign on the dotted line, do your best to revive the deal by:

    • Contacting them to see if they have any further questions

    • Inquiring about the next step they’d like to take

    • Asking directly if they’re still interested in doing business

    Once you conclude the sale isn’t going to close, remove it to your cold files and document the experience in your CRM so you can apply what you’ve learned (and possibly reestablish contact) in the future.

    "Stay focused, persevere in your outreach efforts and drive value for buyers in your sales conversations, and you’ll see an increase in sales wins soon enough." - Mike Schultz, President RAIN Group

Sales closing techniques in different industries

Although the steps outlined above can be tweaked to suit most businesses, salespeople in some industries, like SaaS, finance or real estate, may need to apply additional sales tactics.

Closing SaaS sales

Because prospective customers sometimes view SaaS products as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, you may have to do some extra work to connect the dots between their pain points and your solution.

One way to do this is by asking a series of pointed questions during your sales presentation or negotiation.

Here’s an example.

  • “What would you say is the biggest challenge about your business process?”

  • “What have you been doing to overcome it?”

  • “How many resources do you devote to this workaround?”

You should then be prepared to show – via live demo, verified data or client testimonials, for example – how easy your SaaS product is to use and how much time and money your prospect will save by applying it.

Closing financial services sales

Closing a financial services sale can be especially challenging since there isn’t usually a tangible product for your potential client to see or touch.

According to business growth, sales and leadership expert Meridith Elliott Powell:

The key to selling financial services is to focus first on building trust with your consumers.

To do that, you may need to take a few additional closing steps.

  • Position yourself as a specialist or trusted advisor in your field with the help of proven results or testimonials

  • Ask deep-dive questions to help develop a consultative selling relationship with your prospect

  • Only ask for the sale once a solid partnership has been established

Finally, to close out finance-based deals faster, stay focused on your prospect’s most urgent need, rather than selling them on all the ways you could be helping them financially.

Closing strategies in real estate sales

Property buyers and investors will often hesitate about taking on big debt or parting with a large sum of money.

To close more deals with real estate clients, spend extra time talking through their concerns. Do this by:

  • Helping them recognize that having cold feet is normal

  • Reminding them about the property features they love

  • Stressing any extra value built into the sale (like a house that comes with appliances, for example)

By summarizing everything they stand to gain, be it a preferred property feature, location or price point, you can help reframe your prospect’s purchase concerns in a more positive light.

6 tips and techniques for closing sales

There is an assortment of well-established closing techniques in sales. Below, we’ve summarized six sales tips and techniques from experts, along with some phrasing examples you can experiment with.

If you remember that a closing technique is simply a way of helping a person to make a decision, you will actually find it enjoyable and fun to practice different methods.

Brian TracySales Expert

  • 1. Summary close

    With the summary close, you simply summarize all the ways your product or service will address your customer’s needs. By describing these value points all at once, you intensify their impact. This can prove especially effective if you’ve been sharing information over a lengthy sales cycle.

    Example: “So with this house, you’re getting everything on your wish list: three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a large, updated kitchen and a low-maintenance lot. It’s also walking distance to school and comes with those stainless-steel appliances you love. The owner is motivated to sell quickly, so are you ready to snap this up and sign the contract today?”

    Pro tip: Baker Communications founder James A. Baker advises that, even if you gain a sales commitment using an alternate technique, you should follow it with a summary closing conversation. Review the needs expressed by your customer and then state the exact actions you’ll be taking to fulfill them.

  • 2. Question close

    We already know incisive questions are a powerful tool to help close sales. The question close lets you build on that practice by asking close-ended questions designed to cut through buyer confusion and reignite enthusiasm for a purchase.

    Example: “Here’s what I suggest. Does that sound good to you, too?”

    Pro tip: Sean McPheat, Managing Director at MTD Sales Training, suggests not thinking of sales closing questions as closing at all, especially if you’re nervous about selling. You’ll feel more relaxed, and worry less about rejection, if you simply view these questions as the next step in a partnership with your buyer.

  • 3. Assumptive close

    The assumptive close is a psychological selling technique. By projecting complete confidence in your product (through your attitude, language and body language), you can influence the prospect’s buying decision and close the sale faster.

    “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

    Example: “How soon would you like these delivered? Does Thursday work, since you’ve indicated that’s your slow business day?”

    Pro tip: The key to the assumptive close is transitioning seamlessly from outlining the benefits to asking for the sale.

  • 4. Now-or-never (urgency) close

    The now-or-never close can be useful if your prospect is on the fence about buying and you’re confident your product is a good fit and value. The idea is to use a limited-time offer to create a sense of urgency.

    Example: “You have every right to think about this great offer – take all the time you need. Please remember, however, that it ends tomorrow and if you wait and call at the end of the week, you will miss out.”

    Pro tip: It’s important to be truthful and authentic when using a sales closing technique like the now-or-never close. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also illegal to mislead consumers under section five of the FTC Act.

  • 5. The puppy dog close

    This sales closing technique is based on the notion that it’s hard to give up a puppy once you adopt it. It involves letting your prospect try your product or service for a short time (free of charge or at a reduced price) with the expectation that they’ll love it so much, they’ll want to keep it.

    Example: “This software comes with so many great features, it’s tough to do justice to them in words. Instead, I can arrange for you to try it free of charge for one month, starting tomorrow.”

    Pro tip: According to sales expert Brian Tracy, a simple approach works best. If you know your prospect likes your product, but they’re feeling a little overwhelmed, you might try a disarmingly simple closing phrase like, “Well then, why don’t you give it a try and I’ll take care of all the details?”

  • 6. Soft close

    Many of the above could be called “hard close” techniques. The soft close is your best choice if a prospect has lingering doubts. It involves asking direct but low-pressure questions that will give you the opportunity to prove your solution’s value and fit.

    Example: “If I could show you how to reduce your manufacturing costs by X% this year. Does that sound like something you’d want to learn more about?”

    Pro tip: By using the soft close, you can adopt an advisor mindset and offer personalized advice to enhance what your prospect already knows.

Final thoughts

Putting your prospect’s needs first in the closing process is a win-win that will get you ahead of the sales curve. You’ll get consistently better at it if you:

  • Research and apply different methods for dealing with common sales objections

  • Try out different closing techniques, practicing them over and over in your business and personal life

  • Take advantage of closing tools like Pipedrive’s Smart Docs, sales insights and sales reporting

With a CRM like Pipedrive, you can track all your leads and prospects through your sales pipeline, ensuring you never miss an opportunity to convert them into a customer.

For more on closing sales deals, read our article containing stories from sales experts about the best deals they closed.

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