10 Ways to Close More Sales

The era of the “hard close” and the “ABC” mentality has, thankfully, long since passed.  Nonetheless, talented salespeople are always looking for effective and low-pressure tactics that will help seal the deal at the kitchen table.  Here are some simple ways to increase a close ratio while preserving one’s integrity with a customer:

  1.  Understand the customer’s specific priorities.  As a young salesperson I was given a list of closed questions designed to build rapport.  “Do you have any rooms that are too hot or too cold?”  “How old is the home?”  “How long do you plan to stay in the home?”  Closed questions or questions that may cause unnecessary pre-judgement are ineffective in a collaborative economy.  Instead, utilizing open-ended questions that allow the customer to tell stories, share personal insights, and do not limit value-building opportunities best position a salesperson to fully understand the customer’s key buying motivations.  In lieu of this quality of understanding a salesperson will often miss the mark during the closing stage of a call–shifting in to “spray and pray” mode.  An open-ended needs analysis is the foundation to a successful close.
  2. In-group bias.  Humans are hard-wired to want to belong to a pack or a tribe.  From cliques in high school to the types of people we surround ourselves with as adults, we are all searching for a form of like-minded belonging.  Successful salespeople often utilize client testimonials, customer service ratings, video sharing, and other types of evidence that their service is exemplary to encourage a customer to buy and thereby join a popular and exclusive tribe.
  3. Checklisting.  A specific needs analysis allows a salesperson to design a meaningfully specific value proposition.  That, in turn, allows the salesperson to checklist all of the gains that he is able to provide based on the priorities the customer shared at the beginning of the sales call.  Checklisting is the act of targeting these specifics and the equally specific ways in which the proposal meets or exceeds these requirements.
  4. Limiting choices.  Choice paralysis happens when a customer is presented too many products or services.  Successful salespeople understand that product menus that limit product choices simplify the decision-making process while allowing the salesperson to tightly focus his benefit statements on specific criteria.
  5. Go back to square one.  Oftentimes a customer may need to be reminded of the priorities that he or she was interested in accomplishing at the beginning of the appointment.  By the end of an appointment there may be an element of exhaustion–especially with high-ticket items or products that are technically complicated.  Returning to the original needs analysis as a reminder of the customer’s initial priorities refreshes the value proposition while reiterating the salesperson’s care and attention to detail.
  6. Tell a story.  Stories are incredibly effective in that they do the work of sending a message without the salesperson having to do so directly.  Understanding benefits by affiliation, performance by extension, and gains in a story-based context help the customer visualize their own situation in a narrative.
  7. Compare the pros and cons.  If a salesperson has done his job well then the pros of accepting his proposal should greatly outweigh the cons.  Listing the pros and listing the cons helps the customer visualize the tremendous gains and improvements that he or she will have over the limited number of downsides.
  8. Make it easy.  Nobody wants to work in order to buy something.  If the customer is confused they won’t buy.  If they’re overwhelmed with choices they’re less likely to buy.  If they don’t understand the financing terms they won’t use financing.  If there’s a rebate or an incentive that feels tricky or cumbersome they’ll keep shopping.  As the old saying goes, “A confused mind says no.”
  9. Compliment them.  People love to be told that they’re making great decisions.  Most people like to be told that they’re intelligent, responsible, and thoughtful.  Great salespeople understand the emotional impact that positivity plays in the sales call…especially at the close.  “You’re making a great decision” is a subtle way of saying “You’re making a great decision with me.”
  10. Ask and ask again.  Very few customers say “yes” the first time.  The salesperson needs to be patient (but not too patient) and ask for the order once, twice, and perhaps three times.  As long as the discussion is not becoming tense or awkward the salesperson should be prepared to ask for the order, resolve the concern, and ask again.  Just don’t quit too soon.  The sale may be one conversation away.
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