6 Techniques To Closing

Closing any transaction, whether it is securing a new client relationship or closing a sale, is like landing a plane.  It can be a smooth landing at the end of a pleasant flight or it can be a bumpy, frightening experience.  Much of the success or lack of it depends on the pilot, the person in the driver’s seat.  Similarly, the successful closing depends largely on the skill of the representative.  When a pilot is trained, the training covers all facts of flying – take off, instrument flying, turning, and landing.  All of these elements must be learned and continually practiced for the pilot to make smooth, safe trips.

Before each landing, a pilot must go over the checklist to make certain everything is ready for the approach.  There are times when the course must be altered or even diverted to another landing field.  Just like the pilot’s checklist, certain elements must be okay before the representative can close any transaction. Use this mental checklist to make certain you are ready and prepared to close the deal. This may take only minutes or it may take years depending on your specific service or product.

  1. Are you talking to the prospect?  Trying to close someone who does not have the capacity or authority to make a final decision is impossible and frustrating.
  2. Do you have a valid proposal?  Is your proposal a good one?  Is there something in it for the prospect?
  3. Does the prospect understand the benefits?  No matter how good your proposal, if the prospect does not understand the benefits, it is worthless.
  4. Are you in the proper position to close?  Trying to close a prospect on your brand of product, service or idea when the concept is still pending is usually a waste of time.  The best you will usually end up with is noncommittal:  “You have convinced me that your service is the best, and if we ever decide to make a change, the business will be yours.”
  5. Are you in the right place in the presentation?  Do you have the prospect’s attention?  Have you supplied enough logic, built enough value?  Have the emotional fears been overcome?  The real key to closing is to duplicate the natural behavioral patterns the prospect would have taken in coming to a final decision if left alone.  Is the prospect ready to be closed?  Close as soon as you can – remembering that it is the client who must be ready for the close.
  6. Do you have the right mental attitude?  Do you believe that “No” means the prospect loses?  Do you really believe in your proposal?  No closing technique should be such that the representative is not welcome back.  It is within this framework that we refer to the right mental attitude.

If you believe the prospect is making a mistake by saying “No,” you have an obligation to prevent this mistake.  Over the years, we have seen some good, firm closers and after the call we asked them how they had the courage to continue closing and strongly persist until they got the business.  Their reply was always, “I really believe the company should have my service or product.  In three months, the client will shake my hand and thank me.”  You must believe you are right!

Unless you can answer “yes” to those six items, you have not completed your checklist and you are not ready to close.  Trying to close without completing those steps is high pressure—trying to force your proposal on someone who is not yet ready or able to buy.  “Firm pressure” – a positive aggressive attitude – is certainly proper at the right time and place.  Even though many times you may be able to say, “Yes” to the checklist, there are certain difficulties that you may still encounter.  The prospect, fearing change, may remain reluctant.  What is the representative’s role?

Each client is different, and closing techniques must be tailored to the individual.  Remember the golden rule in selling is, “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”  Some techniques work well and are desirable for some people, yet they would infuriate others.  Occasionally, you may have to persist until the client is almost angry.

The common fear is “If I do that, my customers may not like me.”  Instead we suggest you ask, “Do they respect me?”  The two words, “like” and “respect” are not synonymous.  Of course, you prefer that your clients both like and respect you.  However, you must not prostitute self-respect in an attempt to get people to like you.  Look up some of your current best clients.  How many came as a result of a blow-up, where you stood up for what you believed was right?  If you earn respect you will probably be liked, and at the very least admired.

Sometimes, while the customer is at an emotional peak ready to buy your product or service, a twinge of fear caused by uncertainty may creep in at the last moment.  It is your job as the representative to help the prospect over the last emotional threshold.

In some cases, this may be accomplished by sharing the emotional burden of responsibility, particularly in a case where a husband and wife are involved, or a boss or subordinate.  While both parties may want your service or product, neither wants to make the decision alone.  If it turns out positively, they want the credit.  If it turns out negatively, they do not want the responsibility.

We suggest that the representative recognize this and accept some of the emotional burden.  “George, this will cut your retraining cost by twenty percent, eliminating one job nobody likes to do.  I want to stand next to you in the meeting the day you introduce this just to see the smile on your face.  It is right, believe me.”  You went through your closing checklist before doing the above!  Now, if the decision is unfavorable, the blame is on the representative.

These are powerful and assertive tactics to close more transactions. The feeling you leave with the client is very important, it must be one of mutual respect and not the all too common feeling of being coerced into committing. So, remember these six critical steps and close more deals!