After endless demos and conversations, you’re confident that your prospect is ready to buy, yet he/she/the company just won’t seal the deal. Sometimes a little nudge in the right direction can get your prospect to the finish line—and that’s what sales closing techniques are for.
There are generally two types of closing methods: hard closing methods and soft closing methods. According to a study by DiscoverOrg that surveyed 250 B2B buyers, the best sales closing techniques are soft close tactics. Harvard Business Review explained:
“Hard close techniques such as ‘This is the last time we’ll be able to extend this offer, and we need an answer now’ were rated least effective. A hard close creates a binary ‘yes or no’ response from the buyer and is associated with a ‘take it or leave it’ mentality. Soft close techniques such as ‘If you spend another $100,000, you will receive an additional 10% off the entire order’ were rated most effective. A soft close is based on a suggestion that leads buyers to believe they are acting of their own free will, when in fact they have been directed to follow an action.”
Instead of creating a binary yes/no situation with a hard close, use these soft closing techniques to move prospects to the purchasing phase of the sales funnel. As a general rule, avoid closing tactics that are so aggressive that they may damage the long-term relationship you’re looking to build with your customers.
1. The assumptive close
Talk about the sales deal as if you’re sure it’s going to close. Voicing positive expectations about the deal closing can help both you and your prospect feel more confident about moving forward. For example, after a demo, you might say:
“We are really looking forward to partnering with you. When should we get started with implementation?”
Even though an assumptive attitude can generate positive momentum toward closing a deal, it’s important to do frequent temperature checks with your prospects to make sure they’re feeling similarly confident. If you find out your customer isn’t following your positivity, find out what barriers and objections need to be addressed. Without frequent temperature checks, this sales closing technique can easily come off as arrogant and pushy.
2. The gauge technique
This sales closing technique can give you a better idea of how close your prospect is to purchase and what barriers may still stand in the way. Give your prospect a scale from 1 to 10 with clear starting and end points, and let the prospect tell you exactly where they stand:
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being ‘we should end the call’ and 10 being ‘let’s get started right away,’ where would you say we are?”
If the prospect replies with a 6 or lower, you probably didn’t convey the value of your solution effectively enough, or there is a significant barrier that hasn’t been addressed. If they reply with a number greater than 6 but below 10, you’ve probably helped them see the value of your solution. Follow up with a second question:
“I'm surprised you chose a number that [high/low]. Why did you choose it?”
“Why wasn’t it a 10?"
The prospect can then tell you the reasons they feel like your solution will or won’t work. Both pieces of information are vital to you. Knowing why they think your solution will work helps you understand the specific value you bring, and that information is essential when it comes time to work with a procurement team. Knowing why they think your solution won’t work can help you identify and then resolve concerns about moving forward.
3. The summary close
Summarizing various points you’ve discussed with your prospect can give you a good opening to solidify the deal. For example, you might say:
“So we’ll do a custom implementation of our solution with an upgrade that applies only to the sales team, and we’ll provide a full-company training to make sure everyone knows how to use our solution. When would be a good time to schedule those trainings?”
This approach makes the most sense when you provide a solution with variable components. If you offer a one-size-fits-all solution, there isn’t much to summarize. When prospects hear the list of benefits they’ll receive, it helps them to see the whole picture of the value you’re bringing to the table and creates an opportunity for them to correct you if you got something wrong.
Closing deals effectively
No matter which sales closing techniques you choose, make sure that you are clear and specific when you ask your prospect to close. If you don’t specifically ask to close the deal, you probably won’t get where you want to go. Sometimes it’s easy to avoid asking because you want to avoid possibly hearing a “no” from the customer. Hearing “no” just means you have more concerns to address or the timing may not be right. Be bold and ask.
Lucidchart can help sales organizations standardize best practices—like soft closing methods. Try the free templates below to build a conversation tree that leads sales reps to choose the right closing technique or to visualize the entire sales process in a flowchart.