It’s the goal of every sales professional to have more prospects say “yes” to a purchase, agree on conditions and commit to the sales transaction. However, often a lot has to happen before you can successfully close a sale.
Research from RAIN Sales Training shows that top sellers achieve significantly higher win rates (48% vs 37%) and hit their goals more often with fewer points of contact with the lead. How do they accomplish this?
In most cases, it’s a matter of asking the right questions, emphasizing the alignment between product value and buyer objectives and promoting a slight sense of urgency.
By understanding which steps you should be following 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 what may be required to close sales in different industries, and explore some well-established closing techniques in sales, along with some tips from the experts for your sales team.
You’ve worked hard to understand your prospect’s pain points. You’ve used your best sales pitch, demo or sales presentation to present a solution that will help solve their problem. Now it’s time to convert your prospect into a customer.
These seven steps will walk you through the basics of closing out 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.
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 their buying decision.
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.
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 ask is important, however.
You’ll close more sales faster, for example, by asking a close-ended (yes or no) question like, “Shall I send you the terms and conditions?” than you will with a vague, open-ended question like, “So, what do you think?”
3. Address your prospect’s questions or concerns
Sometimes your buyer will want additional clarification or reassurance around the information you’ve provided, especially if multiple decision-makers 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, it’s especially important that you put your closing skills in sales to work at this point by listening carefully, providing thoughtful answers in a timely manner and, when appropriate, asking probing questions that 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 the necessary 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, you may still need to negotiate around common sales objections as part of the closing process.
These might involve:
Price or competitor offerings
Purchase timing or product fit
Trust issues, lack of decision-making ability or a reluctance to commit to change
The good news is there are almost always ways to reframe a customer’s perspective if you approach their concerns in the right way. To start, you should make learning about and practicing overcoming sales objections part of your ongoing sales closing training.
You should also have a clear idea of what concessions you’re willing (or authorized) to make to close out a sale, whether they include multi-item price discounts or free shipping.
5. Use the right sales closing technique
You can usually improve the outcome of your negotiation by taking advantage of one or more effective sales closing techniques.
We’ll look at some expert tips for putting these “how-to-close-sales” techniques to work in more detail later. But here are a few examples to get you started:
If your prospect expresses pricing concerns, offer to reduce their costs by removing certain product features or delivering a shortened service plan
Suggest your prospect try your product free of charge for a specified time period
Remind your buyer of the benefits they stand to gain by citing a specific example (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 using 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, how and when is the best time to follow up?
You may need to use your best judgement at this point.
But if you believe your buyer is still planning to do business and has simply been held up (by an illness or absence, for example), a good rule of thumb is to do a sales follow-up by email or phone after one to two days for single buyers, or four to five days for buying groups (to give them time to discuss the 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 persistence has paid off and you’ve succeeded in closing the sale, congratulations! Now’s the time to shift focus and deliver on what you’ve promised so you can start earning your customer’s loyalty.
If, on the other hand, your prospect has been unresponsive, do your best to determine if the deal’s still alive 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
Although the steps outlined above can be tweaked to suit most businesses, salespeople in some industries—like SaaS, finance or real estate, for example—may need to apply some 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 prospect 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 (89% of the buyers in LinkedIn’s 2021 report agreed the salespeople they do business with are “trusted advisors”)
Ask deep-dive questions to help develop a consultative selling relationship with your prospect
Only ask for the sale once a solid partnership’s been established
Finally, to close out finance-based deals faster, stay focused on your prospect’s most urgent need—the one that put them in your pipeline in the first place—rather than trying to sell them on all the ways you could be helping them financially.
Closing strategies in real estate sales
It’s not uncommon for property buyers or investors to worry about taking on big debt or parting with large sums of money.
To close your deals with more real estate clients, you may need to spend extra time talking through their concerns and:
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 intact, 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 so they’re ready to sign on the dotted line.
Many high-profile professionals rely on an assortment of well-established closing techniques in sales. Below, we’ve summarized six of these sales tips and techniques from the experts, along with some phrasing examples you can experiment with as you try different ways of closing more deals.
“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 Tracy
1. Summary close
With the summary close, you’re basically recapping all the ways your product or service will work to fix your prospect’s problem. By describing these value points all at once, you intensify their impact on your buyer. 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 close by reviewing the needs expressed by your customer and then stating the exact actions you’ll be taking to fulfill them.
2. Question close
We already know incisive questions help close sales faster by making it easier to address a prospect’s concerns. 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 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 developing a partnership with your buyer.
3. Assumptive close
The assumptive close is a psychological selling technique. By projecting complete confidence (through a positive attitude and your verbal and body language) in your product’s ability to overcome your prospect’s challenge, you can often influence their 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: According to SOCO Sales Training, the key to making the assumptive close work lies in transitioning seamlessly from outlining the benefits of your solution 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 create a sense of urgency around your sales offering by explaining any time or supply limitations.
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. LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2021 shows 48% of buyers won’t buy from sellers who provide misleading information.
5. Puppy dog close
Based on the notion that it’s hard to give up a puppy once you adopt it temporarily, this sales closing technique 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 that can help grow your business, it’s tough to do justice to them all in words. What I can do, however, is arrange for you to try it free of charge for one month if you’d like me to make that happen starting tomorrow?”
Pro tip: According to sales expert Brian Tracy, a simple approach often 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
The soft close is often your best choice if a prospect has lingering doubts about your solution being the right choice for their needs. It involves asking direct, but low-pressure questions that will give you the opportunity to prove your solution’s value and fit. Many of the above could be called hard close techniques.
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: The last thing you should do with today’s highly informed customers is push for a transaction. By using the soft close, you can adopt an advisor mindset and offer personalized advice to enhance what your prospect already knows.
It’s putting the customer first by taking a human-centric approach to closing that will get you ahead of the sales curve.
Now that you know how to close a sale by prioritizing your prospect’s needs in seven steps or less, 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 in sales (Brian Tracy suggests the best way to learn these is by practicing them, over and over, in your business and personal life)
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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