Apropos that I am writing a blogpost on New Year’s Eve about closing. There are a lot of theories on closing. Back in the days when all the major corporations taught “IBM Selling Skills” to their sales forces, there were philosophies about closing. Closing became manipulation. Sales trainers would teach “themed” closes. Here they are:
- Assumptive Close
- Trial Close
- Hard Close (Glengarry Glenross)
- Soft Close
- Puppy Dog Close (Beg for it on your knees)
All these techniques are ludicrous. They are stupid. Forget them.
Want to know you you close? Closing the deal is a natural outcome of a sales process done well. Period.
If you have crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s before the close and you have been an active listener during the process, you will know exactly when it’s time to close the deal. There are no tricks to closing. It’s not a technique.
Craig Wortmann in his Coursera Selling Skills class illustrates by telling a story a lot of us can identify with. When you were in a relationship and decided to propose to your significant other, how did you feel? When you bought the ring, and got down on one knee or sat on a couch and had a conversation, did you have a pretty good idea the other person would say “Yes” when you popped the question? That’s closing.
Often times, customers will initiate the close. They might ask, “Okay, what comes next?” Here is what comes next.
Many salespeople will rush to get signatures on the dotted line. Don’t do that. Be calm, cool, and collected. This is where you cement a long term relationship and protect against churn. Reset expectations. You have to be sure the customer knows exactly what they are getting. Have a simple 5 minute conversation with them. Revisit the solution. It’s sort of a summary. Here is how that conversation goes. Put it in words you are comfortable with.
Mr./Mrs. Customer, we are excited to have you on board.
- Here is what we agreed we would do.
- Here are the limits on that agreement.
- Here is the contract to sign or I am emailing you the contract
1 in 1000 times, your customer will say, “Wait, I thought you were going to do this or that.” This means there are 2 potential options. The first option is that it’s not a big deal. Easily handled right then and there in a minute or two. The second is there is an underlying objection that you didn’t handle. You need to handle that, then close again.
The way you close lays the groundwork for the future of the relationship. You want to become a partner in the customer’s business, not a vendor. Vendors are easily tossed aside when the going gets tough. Partners are in the trenches with you. As your company matures, it might add new features that the customer will buy. Having a relationship based on trust and mutual respect makes selling those add ons a lot easier. It also helps you fend off competitors when they show up at their door-because they will.