Always be closing – such a proverbial and infamous statement that many sellers are familiar with and definitely could relate to. What are you doing today? Always be closing. What is your next week going to look like? Always be closing.
Closing deals – especially the big ones (during my IBM days, we called these the “mega deals” and every rep is expected to have a few of these in the pipeline) – is the major final stretch in a sales cycle and one that allows you to bring home that fat bacon. The experience is something that no one would easily forget. However, as they say you are only as good as your last sale; and this is why we should – always be closing.
We also notice from surveys done that the closing technique segment, which we roll out as part of our virtual consultative selling offering has been highly rated as one of the most impactful portions. True enough, organizations look into sustainable ways and means to close their deals.
It may have been easier for some to close deals in person or face-to-face especially during the pre-pandemic period but at this point closing deals also happen online or over the phone with the rest of the next steps as possible combinations of paper work and compliance. Nonetheless, there are a variety of closing techniques available, which you can review and see where you and your client fit.
Prior to applying your chosen closing technique, it is also imperative to have your convincing story ready. This is where you will have a customer discussion done interactively covering key aspects such as compelling reason to act, return of investment, relatable customer references and many others. As a seller, you will also be very familiar with the buying behavior of your customer, and the verbal and nonverbal signs that may be exhibited that would cement the interest to move forward. With these in place, you can proceed to go for the close.
Here are some examples of closing techniques:
1. Assumptive close. A popular technique where you assume that the deal is done. As part of your homework, you also check internally that the resources are readily available.
Example: “Mr. CTO, based on your timelines and requirements we can already start our pre-work by tomorrow.”
2. Take away close. This is literally “taking away” what you may have begun with a prospective client who happens to be a time-sink and has very little progress. This happens frequently, especially on those products or solutions that need to be demonstrated by way of trial accounts or proof-of-concept activities.
Example: “We have shown how the platform is able to meet all the success criteria we have mutually agreed upon and how many savings you have generated in the process. The access is available until next week, which we hope we are able to conclude by then, otherwise, we can revisit this capability when you are ready.”
3. The now or never close. This is always attached to something that is urgent that you need to get the deal closed. Quarter end, year-end, month end – these are just examples of what would make the deal urgent from a seller’s point of view. Typically, the end of the month/quarter/year would signify discounts or more resources or more premium that would entice the customer to sign up.
Customer: “I’m ready to proceed but I need another month or so to finish my internal paperwork and signatories.”
Seller: “Our SWAT team is available by this month end, which I can deploy to start the baselining activities – they will definitely be an asset to your project team, which I don’t want you to miss. We typically charge 50 percent more in other cases.”
4. The Ben Franklin close. Named after the great inventor Benjamin Franklin, this applies to prospective clients who are analytical and would like to go over the pros and cons before making any decision. As a seller, it is best to go through all these ideas and think about how you can address or mitigate risks that may be in the client’s mind. This is usually the case for those who are replacing an existing system with a new one (hence migration and training questions, which could pose risks for the client).
Example: “Mr. CIO, our migration plan is supported by our project team that has done similar customer migrations in your industry. On top of that, our training and onboarding specialists will be handholding your team to ensure that they get familiar with the platform as quickly as possible. And even then, our 24×7 chat support will be there in case they have a question that needs a quick answer.”
There are many other types of closing techniques and understanding these would allow the seller to be more flexible and quick-thinking in going for the close.
Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include nation-building, sustainability education and financial literacy. The author may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org