Too often, salespeople think they have an agreement only to discover that the right actions have not yet been taken, or their understanding is very different from the customer’s. Closing requires clarity.
The sales process is comprised of a series of agreements crafted with the customer, moving along the path toward contract. And at that critical juncture, it’s essential that sales teams have the skills, tools and strategies on hand to keep the sale on course and moving forward as planned. At Global Performance Group (GPG), we call this “closing for action.”
Here are four tips to help keep your close on track:
1. Ensure there are no unresolved issues that may block the sale.
It’s important to train sales teams to address customer questions, objections, and concerns both thoroughly and effectively, with an emphasis on timing to avoid eroding your value. Skilled buyers will surface a series of objections to gain a series of concessions from you. While each concession may seem small and innocuous, they can quickly add up, often leaving you with little in return. At this point, the customer has seized control of the sales process and directed the conversation in the direction they wants to go, which is often a lower price.
Train your sales reps to avoid “premature problem-solving” (i.e., delivering the response too soon). Rather, they should identify, acknowledge and work through every question, objection or concern the customer may have at the right time so that they can say “yes” to the new sale, renewal, cross-sell or upsell opportunity.
2. Clarify the action you want your customer to take.
Buyers want to feel good about whom they’re buying from, and they want to walk away feeling good about the deal they’ve just made. In the final steps of the sales process, clarity is essential for deals that leave your customers coming back for more.
Be specific in what you need from your customers and transparent in what action you plan to take at closing. Creating and meeting these expectations helps build trust, enabling decision-makers to take that final step and leave the door open for future upselling opportunities.
3. Clearly express when each action needs to be taken.
At the end of your meeting, you should have an understanding about what needs to happen next. If there are multiple steps that need to be taken on their side or yours, set out clear deadlines and expectations for each one so they know when to expect a follow up from you.
If there are multiple steps that happen at different points in time, include all deadlines so that accountability is present throughout the process and corrective actions can be taken swiftly in case the sales process needs to be brought back on track.
4. Avoid mitigated speech.
An example of “mitigated speech” is, “Do you think you might be able to…?” Instead, be clear, direct and confident. When it comes to closing for action, there are three “don’ts” to keep in mind, including:
- Don’t justify the request for action. When it comes time to close, all questions should have been dealt with by this point.
- Don’t apologize: Other people will only be as confident in what you say as you appear to be.
- Don’t ask for permission; state logical next steps.
Closing is one of the most challenging parts of sales. It requires clarity, attention to detail and managing expectations on both sides of the buyer-supplier relationship.
As you move through the sales process, it’s essential that your customers have a clear understanding not only of what they are buying but also when each action needs to be taken for them to get their product or service delivered. Training your reps on the approaches outlined above will ensure that there are no unresolved issues blocking a sale, and that all parties understand who will do what by when, and how much money will change hands at each step along the way. In doing so, you can expect your reps to closer more deals, faster.