The ABC of selling — "Always Be Closing" — is a funny and very old selling adage. But to succeed in selling, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself, “What really is a good close?" And, “Why is it important in today’s complex marketplace?” Let’s examine these questions one at a time.
What is a good close?
In the simplest terms, a good close accomplishes one thing: it gets a customer to take an action or change a behavior.
Often it’s framed in the form of a question. You pitch your product, and then you ask the customer to do something. And therein lies the secret to a good close—your pitch. If you've done a good job of preparing for the sales call, opened it well, engaged in a meaningful dialogue with the customer that resulted in you uncovering a need, and then were able to meet that need, then the close—the "ask" and the subsequent action—should function as a logical conclusion that ties it all together.
A good close for action has three qualities:
- It's clear and simple. Customers should clearly know what you are asking them to do, how you want them to do it, and in what general timeframe. Don’t overload customers on the first call. Remember that this might be the first time a customer is hearing the idea you’re presenting, so use short, effective sentences and offer clear direction.
- It burns calories. A good close needs to be action-based. Asking the customer to think about something doesn't burn many calories. But a call to action that asks the customer to either do something or change a behavior is much more influential and effective.
- It's followed by a pause. After you ask the customer to take action, you should pause and listen carefully to his or her response. Too often, a sales representative delivers the closing message and then continues talking, leaving the customer confused and unsure about what the sales representative is asking him or her to do. Following with a pause gives customers a clear cue that it’s their turn to respond and indicates that they understand what the sales representative is asking of them.
Many sales representatives overcomplicate closing because they feel reluctant to ask the customer to do something. Yet, through their conversation, they have earned the right to ask for that commitment. Not doing so would be like having a conversation without a conclusion. Imagine enjoying a new movie, only to have it end abruptly without tying up any of the plot lines. Nobody’s a fan of that.
Why is closing important in today’s marketplace?
Closing in today’s marketplace is more important than ever. Today’s marketplace is complex, with many stakeholders and many variables. A sale is no longer as simple as asking for a commitment from one person. Businesses are more complicated than that now.
In today’s integrated global marketplace, so many factors influence decisions that it’s rare for closing to serve as the end of the road. A better approach is to think of closing as an opportunity to advance the customer forward in the sales process. It’s a multi-step process that encourages the customer to take the next step in the buying process—whatever that is—and move a step closer to your end objective.
The maxim "Always Be Closing" still applies today. But, more important, closing should fit the customer's situation and align with his or her needs. Asking someone for his or her business when you haven't earned it is a good way to lose a sale. A more sophisticated and successful approach is to close for action: ask the customer to burn some calories and either do something or change his or her behavior.
Reach out to us to learn how you can improve your closing techniques and capitalize on more sales calls.