Most often, when I talk to sales people about ‘closing’, they describe it as the moment when the client finally commits to a decision, both verbally, and in writing by signing a contract.
Dig a little deeper and closing means different things to different people. For some, it is a technique, the things you need to do when you are ‘pushing’ someone to sign on the dotted line. For others it is the signal that starts the process of negotiation. So, it can be a noun or a verb.
I prefer to think of closing as a process that starts long before a contract is awarded or signed. Often a successful ‘close’ is a series of incremental decisions and a direct result of the sales person adding value along the way.
Assuming sufficient time and effort has been undertaken to really understand, the needs of the client in sufficient depth, the following skills come into play:
- Developing a compelling value proposition;
- Planning and executing effective closing meetings;
- Effective stakeholder management;
- Competitor analysis & win strategy;
- Messaging for different Social Styles;
- Writing and structuring effective proposals;
- Making effective presentations;
- Proactively identifying and managing issues;
- Handling price and non-price objections; and
- Negotiating win/win agreements.
When you move into the closing phase of a sales cycle, usually the final 20% or so of the effort, there are recognisable shifts in buyer behaviour as they seek to narrow the field from a ‘few’ to ‘the one’.
The degree to which you are equipped to respond, will often prove to be the difference between success and failure.