You are great at prospecting and finding new customers. You excel at networking and building relationships. Your pipeline is bursting at the seams with active prospects. But all your managers seem to care about is how many sales you’ve closed.
Ideally, management is invested in all aspects of selling, but it is often the case that heavy emphasis is placed on the closing metric. Closing a sale is, of course, the goal you are working toward, but it can be a tricky thing. If it’s attempted too early, or if the seller is too aggressive, a closing effort can cause the entire deal to implode.
If you feel that the customer is ready to commit, you can test for agreement on your recommendation by using several different types of closing questions: the trial close, the alternative choice close, or the sharp-angle close.
1. The Trial Closing Question
Ask a trial closing question if you feel safe in assuming that your customer accepts your recommendation. Generally, there are three opportune times to trial close: 1) when the customer shows signs of approval; 2) after stating a major customer benefit; and 3) after you handle an objection.
- “Is this the type of support and service that you had in mind?”
- “Do you feel that these benefits justify the investment?”
- “Where do we go from here?”
The trial closing question is a good way to test for agreement and get a sense of whether the customer is really ready to commit. Questions or objections that arise at this stage will help clarify any needs the customer has that haven’t been met yet, and give you the opportunity to address them.
2. The Alternative Choice Close
Offer alternate choices to secure a commitment, or if you feel it would be helpful to refocus your customer’s attention. Give him two choices – use an either/or format.
To prepare your customer for an alternative choice close, it can be helpful to give the customer alternatives to choose from throughout the call, which gets him used to a pattern of choices. Use positive feedback after each response to build his engagement. Then introduce the final alternative choice close as part of the pattern you have established.
- “Would you prefer a 30-day or 60-day billing cycle?”
- “Can you meet me at the site on Monday or Friday of next week?”
- “If you order one palette, we can sell it at this price, or we can discount it if you order a truckload each month. Which would you prefer?”
The alternative choice close is helpful because it makes the buyer’s decision feel less risky. It reduces a large decision, or cluster of decisions, into a choice between two simple options that are being considered. Alternative choices can be made between notification options, services, modes of payment, modes of delivery, support groups, installation, and/ or incentive plans.
3. The Sharp-Angle Close
You can use a sharp-angle close when your customer asks you a question.
Customer: “Can you ensure product service and support when needed?”
Seller: “If we can, are you ready to sign a contract?”
If the response to the sharp-angle close is positive, then they are committed to an agreement. If it is not, it can create a basis for a continuation of the discussion and a later attempt at a close.
General Closing Tips
- Do not make the mistake of talking too much or interrupting the customer’s thought processes after asking a closing question. The pressure of silence will either force him to commit or to clarify the remaining issues.
- Once you have tested for agreement and gained a commitment, make a summary close. Review your customer’s expressed needs and state the specific course of action you will take to satisfy them.
Guest Post By James A. Baker, Founder Baker Communications
As one of America’s most established corporate training companies, Baker Communications has helped over 1.5 million professionals reach maximum performance since 1979. Globally recognized companies and government agencies, including ExxonMobil, Amazon, SAP, Ingersoll Rand and VMware depend on BCI to equip their employees with skills to increase market share and produce immediate results. Baker creates and delivers customized targeted practice-driven pathways that produce rapid, measurable results. Baker Communications’ solutions have been utilized and delivered worldwide, throughout Europe, South America, North America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.
BCI offers a full-range of options for learners. These options include our proprietary and custom workshops, as well as a full line of technology that provides advanced insights into each seller, a Sales Mastery online video library, voice and ambient computing learning technologies, and other new learning reinforcement applications under development.