Everyone seems to want to know how to close more sales. It’s a focus for sales managers and salespeople professionals alike. And both are frustrated when it doesn’t happen.
Sales managers tell me, “My people aren’t closing sales. They do all the work and then the final decision is stalled. They don’t move them through the pipeline.”
If I ask sales people, “What keeps you from closing more sales?” I hear, “The buyers don’t make decisions timely.”
When I ask buyers why they haven’t made a decision, they say, “They never asked!” or “I wasn’t sure I was ready at the time.”
Notice a gap here? Closing sales doesn’t have to be a complicated mystical event. In fact, getting buyers to decide and sales pros to close may be as simple as asking for a decision or commitment!
Too many times I have observed or coached a sales pro and found out that they do a LOT of work to build the relationship, identify the wants/needs, and demonstrate their value. And then wait. Check in with the prospect. And wait some more. Then check in again. But they never ask for a specific decision or commitment to a next action!
There are two important types of questions to be asked as you close out a sales conversation:
- Readiness Questions
- Decision Questions
If we don’t ask for their opinion on their readiness, we may never know where we really stand and then over- or under-sell. If we don’t ask for a decision, we may never close the deal.
First, determine where they are in their thought or decision process by checking for any final objections. Determine if they are ready, by asking:
- “How does what we’ve discussed sound to you?”
- “What concerns do you have about this solution or me/my company?”
- “What barriers do you see in implementing this?”
- “How does this align with your goals?”
- “What is the next action for you in the decision making process?”
Notice that these are open ended questions that ask for opinions, ideas, and feedback.
Then, after listening and responding appropriately, ask for a decision or commitment:
- “Are you ready to move forward?”
- “Can we initiate the paperwork today?”
- “Should we wrap this up?”
- “What other information do you need before making a decision?”
Some of these questions are open-ended to allow you to “test the water” before asking for a decision. But then you HAVE to ask for a specific decision!
Here’s how asking for a decision worked with a really tough decision maker—an IRS agent.
I used this closing strategy with the IRS. Yes the Internal Revenue Service! They have a reputation for never saying “Yes.” But I approached appealing a penalty charge as an opportunity to sell—to build a relationship with the agent, ask for concerns, and then ask for the removal of the penalty. The charge was relevant; in switching accounting systems the previous year, one of the federal tax payments was not made.
It took me two letters and a phone call—which is what sealed the deal. During the call I focused on building rapport, working through the situation together, and then asking for the penalty to be removed. The agent cheerfully, yes a cheerful IRS agent, said he would recommend a removal. Two weeks later a letter arrived with an approval! A large penalty was removed from the account.
This situation is a an example of what can happen when we ask. It’s hard to get what you don’t ask for.
I encourage you to look at your pipeline. Which prospects are stalled? Which situations did you not close with the right questions? Then determine how to re-initiate contact with the prospect.
Your objective is to first identify if there are concerns that need to be worked through. Next, summarize the value of your product or service connected to their specific want or need and ask if they are ready to make a commitment. Then, ASK for a decision.
The decision might be the buying decision or a decision that they will take an action or talk with you at a specific time. If you want to know how to close more sales: You just need to ask. And if you get a “No”? Then you know where you stand and can move on to more probable prospects.
If you get a “Yes,” you’ve just closed another sale.