The old saying “All that glitters is not gold” certainly holds true in sales. In some instances, sales professionals may mistake buying signs that are verbalized by the customer as an indication that the time is right to advance the sales process to the close. Examples of such buying signs might include:
- “I like what I’m hearing.”
- “What you’re saying makes good sense.”
- “Everything sounds good.”
- “It looks like you can help me.”
- “What would we do next to get the ball rolling?”
- “This is great! What’s next?”
- “You definitely have my interest.”
Those are certainly all signs that things are going well in the sales process. Even so, there are still a few criteria that must be met before you should move to the next step of gaining the customer’s commitment and closing the deal.
Four Critical Closing Techniques
What exactly does it mean to close the sale? Closing can be defined as asking the customer to place an order or make a purchase commitment. Effective closing techniques are important to the sales process, but closing early can have devastating consequences on the final sale, as we will discover.
Customers more readily recognize the “early close” today and have a tendency to disengage in when this happens. Simply put, premature closing causes customers to feel pressured and look for ways out of the sale. In fact, studies have shown that closing too early in the sales process can actually produce negative effects on customers who are making larger purchasing decisions.
What should you do to avoid a premature closing? The following closing skills can help you to ascertain precisely the right time to move the sales process forward.
Before you even begin to attempt to advance the sales process, you should always determine whether you have a clear understanding of the customer’s needs. Sales professionals who have encountered positive buying signs and felt they were about to close the sale might be surprised later when the customer refuses to make a commitment. This is often due to failing to take the time to ensure they have a solid understanding of the customer’s needs prior to advancing the sales process.
Once you have pinpointed the customer’s needs, you must then make sure you have identified the right solution to meet those needs. Keep in mind that while a customer may like what you have to offer, if it does not meet his or her needs, the customer is not likely to make a purchase commitment.
Next, ask yourself whether you have articulated to the customer the solution that you have in mind. If the customer is not 100 percent clear on the solution that you are providing to meet his or her needs, you may be surprised at the response you receive when you actually ask for the business.
Finally, has the customer confirmed his or her agreement with the recommended solution you have provided? Before a customer can agree to an order commitment, he or she must be in agreement that the solution you have provided actually meets his or her needs.
It is only when you have gone through these four critical steps that it is time to actually move the sales process forward. “Dazzling buying signs” can be tantalizing, but do not let them tempt you into closing the sale prematurely. When you attempt to push a customer into making a commitment before he or she is ready, trust is lost. At this point, you lose all credibility with your customer as well as the chance to try again and make a sale in the future. In addition, closing prematurely puts your customer on the defensive and raises the likelihood that he or she will offer objections. This also makes it that much harder to build a relationship with that customer in the future.
Closing skills are critical to sales success, but keep in mind that closing is only one of the steps involved in the sales process. There are also many other elements that must be addressed before you can begin closing sales. Comprehensive sales training can assist you in understanding the sales process, including when is the right time to ask for the business.