Hollywood movies have depicted “the close” as a salesman, devoid of conscience, using guile and deception to manipulate his clueless customer into signing an agreement that will end badly for him. His manta...“A...B...C...Always Be Closing!”
Thankfully, the real world of closing in a B2B environment is very different. Closing is yet another conversation in a series of conversations with your customer that puts the solution to his problem in motion. It is a natural next step in the selling process. You have already established the need, the fit, and the value of your solution. The next logical thing for the customer to do is to buy. So let’s close!
How Come Salespeople Have Difficulty Closing?
Regardless of how logical it might be to go for a close, there can be lots of reasons you might hesitate. Generally they fall into two categories, business reasons and personal reasons.
Lack of product knowledge
Lack of customer knowledge
Lack of application knowledge
Lack of preparation
Fear of losing
Lack of motivation
"I'm having a bad day. Leave me alone."
Dull customer: "I would rather spend time at the dentist."
Intimidation: "The customer scares me."
Business reasons are often about not being well-prepared. You can remedy this by doing your home-work or getting some coaching. Personal reasons are much more emotion-based. In either case, check what is holding you back and do what you need to do to move forward.
Customers Have Difficulty Committing, Too
There are a variety of reasons that customers may be reticent to commit. Among them:
Fear...................I don’t have enough information.
Nerves..............I’m not sure I have the authority.
Buyer’s Remorse..I wish there was another company I felt better about.
Guilt.................I like my current vendor. I hope they don’t take it personally.
Anxiety.............My budget won’t cover this cost.
Doubt...............Is this the right way? The right time?
You may perceive your customer is having difficulty committing by reading his body language. However, don’t jump to conclusions. Is that anxiety you are reading due to the fact your customer is impatient to close, or conversely, is he trying to get up the courage to tell you he is not the real decision-maker. If you charge ahead with the close, he may pull back and disengage. Get in the habit of utilizing a “trial close.”
Importance of the Trial Close
A good trial close provides you with key customer feedback on how well your solution meets his needs. It clarifies what he is thinking and if he truly is the decision-maker. A good trial close signals his willingness to commit and surface any hidden objections. If there are no objections, you are ready to close. When conducting a trial close, use these approaches:
Ask for your customer’s opinion.
Ask about recent buying decisions and criteria used to make them.
What does your customer like/dislike about your offer?
Why would the customer not close? Get the customer to tell you the reasons.
Ask about what the customer perceives as the top three advantages to your solution.
A good trial close may well surface an objection. That can be good thing in helping you clarify, restate your value, and frame your recommendation. Remember the steps found in the model below:
1. Listen First 2. Then Empathize 3.Question for Clarity
4. Identify Implications and Options to handle their concern
5. Test trial close: "If we do this, would that solve your concern?"
Once you have worked with your customer to handle his valid objections, the way is open to close.
No two deals are alike. No two customers are alike. As a result, there is no one closing technique that will work every time. There are books written about closing that give names to dozens of differ- ent closing techniques. Have a few in your inventory that you are comfortable with, but keep it as simple as possible.
Matching Closing Techniques to Personal Style.
When selecting how you will close, remember to match it with your customer’s personal style (Dominant, Influencing, Steady, and Conscientious). Each personal style requires receiving information in a particular way, and that includes the close.
For example, an Alternate Choice close in which you give your customer a series of “would you prefer” choices may work well with a Dominant who thrives on making decisions, but not with a Steady who needs to move more slowly. The 'Think It Over' close may work well with the Steady, but can antagonize the Dominant’s decisive nature.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare Keep the following points in mind while you are preparing to close:
Be imaginative and creative
Set up a win-win situation
Anticipate objections, including price
Think of different closing statements
Have your order documentation and contracts completed in advance
Now Close. You have trial closed and handled the objections. Now it’s time to ask for the order. Short, simple statements are the best. The table below provides a dozen that can work for you.
Ask for the Order and Don’t Speak!
Although the silence that can follow asking for an order may be uncomfortable, put your customer in the position of needing to reply for the conversation to continue. If you keep talking, bad things can happen, including important concessions or even talking yourself out of the order. There is plenty of truth to the expression, “The first person who speaks, loses.”
Congratulations on landing the deal! Remember, how you handle the implementation is vitally important in creating a repeat customer and gaining access to a whole new level of opportunities.