Closing is the sixth step of the Seven Step Sales Process for IT Solutions and Managed Services. This step usually occurs after Step 5 – Overcoming Objections, and can be easily defined as the Sales Professional asking for a commitment from the prospect. Sales Professionals sometimes make the mistake of re-explaining the features and benefits of their solution after the prospect is ready to be closed and potentially talking them out of the sale. Most successful Sales Professionals utilize a variety of closing techniques depending on the situation at hand that simply removes the tension from the close and asks for the business.
Many Sales Professionals make the mistake of placing too much importance on the actual close of the sales itself. Closing should be a natural and logical progression after properly qualifying the Prospect and covering the different alternatives (review Step 3: Qualifying) the Prospect has in their buying decision. The Sales Professional should also continue to confidently progress through the close and simply ask for permission to move forward. Another common mistake by new Sales Professionals is to hesitate throughout the sale and cause unnecessary objections. This hesitation typically creates doubt in the mind of the client, which in turn raises their perceived risk of commitment. The Sales Professional should move confidently throughout the sale and use one of the following Closing Techniques immediately after executing the process for Overcoming Objections (See Step 5: Overcoming Objections):
- The Alternate Advance Close – “Mrs. Prospect, would you like to get started immediately or the following Tuesday?” - Provides the prospect two options that both work for the Sales Professional.
- The Uncomfortable Silence Close – “Mr. Prospect, does it make sense to move forward and get started?” (remain silent and wait for a response) – This close is one of the oldest and most effective closing techniques utilized in the Sales Process. It should be used on every prospect, as it allows an opportunity for the prospect to come up with potential objections. The Sales Professional should remember one important rule; “the first one to speak….loses”.
- The Sharp Angle Close – “Mr. Prospect, if I can get you the exact address and location of where your remote data will be replicated to once it is backed up, are we okay to move forward?” – This should be used on any prospect that is caught up on insignificant details that has them lose sight of the big picture.
- The “I Want To Think About It” Close – “What is it about the service that you want to think about? Is it the Remote Monitoring? Okay, would it happen to be the Vendor Management aspect of our service? Is it the Online Back‐Up Solution? Be candid with me, is it the investment amount associated with getting this service started?” – This close uses the process of elimination to see which aspect of the service the prospect is objecting to. Most of the time the prospects are objecting to the investment amount and this will allow the Sales Professional to reinforce the benefits of the solution and address the misunderstanding in the numbers associated with the ROI/Cost Savings Analysis.
- The Cheaper Somewhere Else Close – “Mr. Prospect, I understand how you feel about the investment. In fact, you’re right; you can get these services for less somewhere else. You know, in my experience I’ve found that companies typically get involved with services based on three merits – lowest price, best service, and highest quality. Unfortunately, in most cases there aren’t many companies that are able to deliver all three of those merits at the same time, wouldn’t you agree? (wait for response) Most people are usually only able to take advantage of services with two out of those three merits and have to compromise on one. Just out of curiosity, which of the three would you be most willing to compromise – the best service, the highest quality, or price…?” – This Close is designed to reset proper expectations in the mind of the prospect. Typically when they object to price, their real question is related to how the proposed solution compares to available alternatives. Sometimes not going with the Sales Professional’s recommendations could be more expensive than going with a “cheaper” alternative.
- The Reduction to the Ridiculous Close – “So Mrs. Prospect, wouldn’t you agree that the 24×7 network monitoring, unlimited help desk, managing all of your vendors, backing up your critical data and saving you $30,000 every year is worth the meager $14.40 per hour? From our discussions with your HR director it seems you pay your Receptionist more, correct?” – This close is designed to take a large number and reduce to a more palatable amount for the prospect. This technique is extremely successful in selling services by squarely comparing a relatively large amount of valuable services and team of experts to deliver them against the cost of one full time employee.
The closing techniques illustrated above are just a sample of what is possible. There are a vast number of closing techniques and styles. The Sales Professional should practice a variety of different closes in different scenarios. This will make them feel confident and assured that they are ready to close an opportunity. The closes presented above are meant to be a simple reference point and should not be used verbatim in most cases. The Sales Professional should practice using their own vernacular and make the closes truly their own.
The Sales Professional should always keep in mind that closing is not manipulation. The prospect must have an actual need for the proposed recommendations and it is the duty of the Sales Professional to articulate that need to their potential client. A closing technique should not be attempted if the prospect does not have a clear understanding of the specific benefits being produced by the offering. If there is a true benefit to working with the Sales Professional’s recommendations, utilizing rehearsed and logical closing techniques can spark the motivation necessary to increase the velocity of the sale. The most important thing to remember is that prospects make buying decisions based on emotion and use logic to justify their buying decisions.
The previous posts in this series can be found here: