How to Close Business in a Complex World: Bring It in for a Landing
Updated: Jun 20
This article on how to close business was originally posted on September 9, 2019 by Lance Tyson in SellingPower
For sales professionals, there is perhaps no single word more enshrouded in mystery than “closing.” If you check out the descriptions for sales jobs, you’ll find that companies are always looking to hire closers. There’s a kind of mythology built around closing that implies a rarefied skill possessed by only a few elite salespeople.
But, in reality, closers are like pixies or leprechauns – they don’t exist. That’s because there’s no special skill required to close business.
To Close More Sales, Prepare to Lose Sales
A few weeks ago, I was conducting sales training for a major NBA team. At the break, one of the sales reps approached me and asked for some advice on how to become a better closer. I asked him to clarify what he meant by that, and he said, “I want to close more sales.”
My response back to him was: “Are you also ready to lose more sales?” He gave me a look of pure confusion. So, we walked over to the door of the training room, which was standing wide open. I said, “See this door?” He nodded. I slammed the door shut as hard as I could. “Now it’s closed.”
My point was not to act like a jerk or make the sales rep feel small – I was simply trying to illustrate that the act of closing business means bringing the deal to its final conclusion. As long as that door stands open, the deal is still a possibility.
As human beings, we tend to accept maybes because they allow us to keep the door open indefinitely. But clinging to “maybe” actually prevents us from closing the deal.
The Toughest Question in Selling
If you want to close a deal, you have to be willing to ask the toughest question in sales – “Are you in or out?” And, before you do that, you have to accept the fact that you might not like the answer. Because sometimes this question serves as a catalyst to help us close business. In other cases, it means walking away so we can find another, more suitable prospect.
That’s why I believe there’s no specialized skill to closing. You simply have to decide whether you are ready and willing to shut the door.
Is the timing right to close? To find out, ask yourself these four questions. Have you:
successfully established a rapport with the buyer?
done your homework in evaluating and diagnosing the problem?
offered a carefully considered prescription?
had a frank dialogue about objections?
If your answers to these questions are “yes,” then the timing is probably right to close.
Successful sales reps need to be confident – or at least act confident. Don’t be willing to live in a world of perpetual maybes. It’s okay to let the cake sit on the table and cool down a bit, but at least be ready and willing to ask buyers if they want a slice.
A Few Strategies to Close Business
I travel about 50 times per year, and I still marvel at the fact that a 60-ton piece of steel tubing can thrust itself through the air at a speed of hundreds of miles per hour and manage to stay up. By contrast, landing makes sense to me. After all, we have gravity in our favor – inevitably, the plane will come down.
Closing business is like landing a plane – at its core, it’s simply the act of bringing the deal to its natural conclusion.
That said, there are a few strategies for closing, and it helps (before you hit the runway) to choose which one you want to work with:
1.The Direct Close.
I always prefer this approach, which can be summed up in the words of Nike: “Just do it.” In this variant, you just ask the question directly, “What are your thoughts on this – do you want to do it?” At the very worst, the answer may mean walking away from the deal. But, if you’ve taken the other previous steps in the sales process, chances are that it will move you more quickly toward a positive resolution and closure.
2. The Alternate Choice Close.
In cases where the direct close seems too presumptuous or risky, you might opt for the Alternate Choice Close, where you offer a couple of options, e.g., “Do you want to go with the three-year contract or the seven-year contract?”
3. The Minor Point Close.
If you encounter a situation where the buyer’s position is opaque and they claim to still be thinking about it, you could try the Minor Point Close. Ask how the buyer feels about a particular section of the contract (or some other minor point) to gauge interest and move the dialogue forward.
4. The Next Step Close.
When we are setting up a sales training at a hotel, often the sales rep will actually show us a room and ask us, “What are your thoughts on this?” They are literally helping us see beyond the close to the next step, which can be quite effective.
5. The Opportunity Close.
Often, organizations will pressure buyers by giving them a limited time frame – telling them that, if they act now, they will get a discount. Infomercials and timeshares are notorious for this type of close. Be careful with this one, however, because it’s the most manipulative kind of close, and it can backfire. But sometimes it works like a charm.
6. The Balancing Close.
In this approach, the sales rep helps buyers weigh the pros and cons in order to make an informed decision. There’s something to be said for taking the higher ground and helping someone go back through their consideration process to make sure they will be happy with the outcome. It helps build trust and can produce great results.
Remember: Closing is based on the momentum you have already established during the course of the flight. How quickly and smoothly you bring the deal in for a landing is just a matter of how well you direct it toward the runway.
Put Your Team on the Fast Track of How to Close Business in a Complex World
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Tyson Group received honorable mention in SellingPower’s prestigious list of Top 20 Sales Training Companies in 2018 and 2019 for excellence in sales training. Lance Tyson is a regular SellingPower blog contributor.