How to Close the Sale

There is one important factor in closing a sale that most sales professionals tend to forget: you and your customer must form a relationship! If you are not connected with your prospects, or if you don’t genuinely care about their plight, then you will not close the sale! It is that simple. People tend to gravitate toward those who share their own concerns, and if you aren’t one of those people, you will most likely be ushered toward the door.

Selling is a process! If you bypass, forget, ignore, or fast-forward through even one tiny step of that process, you can kiss your sale goodbye. It’s about connecting with other people, and demonstrating how you can help them. The sale is, after all, not really about you. They don’t know that you need the commission money, and frankly, they probably don’t really care. It is more important to worry about what they might want or need than to focus on your own monetary troubles and, of course, your sales record.

Follow the steps below, and you will be more likely to close each and every sale. Be sure to study each module in depth, and if you are confused about any part of it, ask a trusted friend or colleague. Even if you are competing for sales, you should be comfortable enough with your co-workers to discuss tricks of the trade.

1. Prep

This is the same as with any kind of job. You must do your homework before you meet with a customer. For example, if you are an associated at Home Depot, you don’t want to be left alone on the floor without any knowledge of home maintenance or repair. You are expected to be knowledgeable about your product or service, so you must perform any background research necessary to fully understand what you are selling. If you work for a company, then your company should offer training; if you work for yourself, then its entirely up to you.

You should also know your market. To whom are you selling? If your product is, for example, denture care products, you don’t want to target customers age 25-40. They don’t need your product, so why waste your time? You will also probably alienate and possibly insult people if you move out of your target market.

2. Expect to Make the Sale

One of the most important factors in sales is your confidence level. If you are uncertain about your own abilities, the product/ service, or about the potential customer’s reaction, then you will probably walk away without a check. The customer needs to see that you have utmost confidence in what you are doing and the product you represent; this, in turn, inspirse confidence in them. Before you visit with a customer, give yourself a pep talk, take a few deep breaths, and act like you own the sale. It will come.

3. Listen

No matter what the substance of the conversation, listen to your customer. Invariably, they will give you the clues you need to close the sale, offering some tidbit of information that will show you how to convince them. Most people want to buy; they are simply waiting for you to give them a reason. Find out how they might use your product – not generally, but specifically – and harp on that idea. The customer should have the impression that you are trying to help them, and not just score a sale.

4. Ask Questions

This is most important when offering a service, and is used in conjunction with Tip #3. Let’s say you are meeting with a potential customer to discuss the website that they need designed. Before you even begin to discuss your services, find out everything you possibly can about that website. What will it be used for, who is the target audience, are they trying to sell products through it, are they looking for flashy graphics or text, is this their only website…. All of these questions will make the customer feel important, and will give the impression that you are genuinely interested in their project. Again, it will also give you insight on how to later close the sale.

5. Business To Business

Take the example in Tip #4. A woman is in need of website design, and on that website, she will be selling printing supplies. Perfect! Every business needs printing supplies, and since you either own a business or work for a company, you are in that target audience. Don’t ever offer to buy, but make a generalized statement: “Wow, that sounds like something worth looking into. Can I get your business card?” This gives the customer the subliminal message that if she hires you, she may earn some return business. Often, sales is a reciprocal investment. Take the time to get to know your customer, and it may benefit you even more than you realize.

5. Ask!

If you don’t ask for the sale, you probably won’t get it. You will be leaving with the standard good-bye: “I’ll call you if I have any more questions,” or something to that effect. If you aren’t proactive, the customer will think that you don’t care about the sale, and that they can take or leave your product/service.

6. Monkey See – Monkey Do

This is especially important for product sales, but can be effective in marketing you services as well. Bring along an example of the product and put it in their hands. Most people will not buy a product unless they can hold it; this establishes a sense of “ownership”. Now that they’ve held it, they want it. Guaranteed. And if it is something they can use, show them how to operate it first. Human nature dictates that they will use it once it is handed to them. Classic monkey see – monkey do.

7. Bring the Portfolio

Customers want to see what you have done for other people. This is especially effective for sales associates offering services. If you are a web designer, pring out the pages you have done and bring them. If you are a photographer, bring an album. Bring examples that are similar to the services needed by the potential customers, and a few that are different, in case they see something they would like to incorporate. Make sure, however, that your portfolio is encased in a nice binder or folder and that the samples are protected. Always look professional.

8. Give a Timeline

Great! The customer is interested! This is very important for people who provide services. Let the customer explain the project in depth, and be sure to take notes! Then, shake their hand and tell them that you will be getting back to them by Friday (or a day about 4-5 days away) with a custom quote for their project. Thank them for meeting with you, and express interest in the project again. Reiterate that you will be calling them by Friday with a custom quote. Never give a price during the initial meeting.

9. Follow-Up

As soon as you get home, or back to the office, send an e-mail to the customer thanking them for their time, and again expressing interest in the project. Reiterate the Friday deadline for their quote.

10. Be Early

Have your quote ready by Thursday. Yes, I know you said Friday, but have it ready by Thursday. Call the customer, and tell them that you moved some things around, and are ready to deliver your quote. Do Not quote them over the phone! Request a meeting at their earliest convenience so that you can deliver your proposal. Tell them that you can’t wait to get started, and are anxious to meet with them. Let them set the date.

Following the above guidelines should increase your chances of closing a sale. Follow them closely, but add your own flavor to them as you go along. Never act like a machine when trying to close a sale – your customers expect you to be human!

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