Ready, Set, Close!

November 11, 2009 by Shirleen Von Hoffmann Leave a reply »

I frequently get asked to come into Sales Meetings and train sales professionals on “Closing Techniques”. In my experience poor closing skills are rarely the real issue. Many times Senior Managers may think their problem is poor closing, however; it is often missed steps like building rapport, developing trust, poor qualification and questioning skills. I have created training sessions that focus on closing techniques but this training will be ineffective if you have missed these important steps in the sales process. I don’t care what clever closing techniques you might choose to use on your prospects, they will not work when you have missed steps in the sales process. In fact trying to close without establishing these steps could surely sabotage your sale.closed

Failure to build rapport, trust and clearly understand the client’s needs by asking questions and listening for buying signals will render 99% of all closing techniques useless. In fact, it is proven that just building rapport and trust alone can represent as much as 65% of a sale.

When you build rapport, you build trust, when you have trust you can ask any question easily, when you ask sincere questions, you develop further rapport and find out their needs and wants, when you find out needs and wants, you can figure out what to sell to them and when you sell then what they want, they just buy! Closing becomes a little step rather than a bridge to cross. I teach Sales People this, “People don’t care about what you have to sell, they care about what they want and need…so sell them what they want and need”.

Any “closing” training must first cover all the other important steps of a sale. Closing is but one step in a process and really the last step in a sales cycle. If the earlier steps are handled properly – then closing is actually a walk in the park. This is one of the important reasons we do our training in order of a sale because a sale follows a definitive cycle; or should follow a cycle. One step leads to another. And Yes, you will have times where the prospect may throw you a curve ball and you may have to adjust your cycle but for the most part when you stay on your sales cycle and don’t miss steps, the curve ball comes back your way in the end with a YES!

The one thing I teach Sales People is to never start the sale until you develop rapport and never close the sale until you have executed all the steps of the sale or you risk losing that prospect and that sale. Closing too soon is a mistake you will most likely never recover. Once you turn off the light of the prospect it is very difficult to turn it back on again. If you think back through times when you have purchased something can you recall being turned off by a Sales Person who attempted to close you without really knowing you or your needs? Remember what that felt like and make sure you never do it. Invest the time, follow a cycle, develop all of your sale and your sales skills, it’s why they call it a critical path because it is!
And finally when you ask close questions make sure they are structured so that you get answers that tell you about the prospects needs.
Example; You know through questions that your prospect needs a 30 day close, wants a single level, with a large family room and master and wants to live in your vicinity.

Here’s your example close; Well Mr. Buyer, it appears this family room is big enough for your family, right? (Yes) and the Master which was also important to fits your needs as well, doesn’t it? (Yes) And you wanted to live in this neighborhood right? (Yes) Well here is more good news; I have this very home on a great lot, if I could deliver this home in 30 days. Is there anything else holding you back from putting your name on this house today?

The key is to ask for the close in a confident, sincere, friendly manner. Then Shut up and listen. If prospects agree, great, if they delay, hesitate or give you a “No”, look at it as an opportunity, you have more work to do in the sales process, so get right back to it. The next question you should be asking is, “What’s holding them back?” And you are back at discovery.

Remember the Sale belongs to the closer, people love to be closed.

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17 Responses

  1. Steve Spaulding says:

    Steve Spaulding
    Project Manager, Director of Sales, Sales Manager

    100% Agree! Closing is a process. A prospect is more likely to purchase when the sales person has taken an interest in what is important to the prospect and then adapted their sales presentation to those needs. It isn’t about that “clever” technique, it is about earning trust and once you have done that, the rest usually falls into place.
    Listening is a paramount skill in the process!

  2. Rodney Davis says:

    Rodney Davis
    Writing and Sales Training!

    Great post on closing. I might add that in my years of sales training, I taught that it is always better to get a trial close just to see if you have actually earned the right to close. Furthermore, sometimes you have to remind even seasoned sales people that it’s okay to close to the “next step”, whatever that next step is.

  3. Tom Mangini says:

    Tom Mangini
    Founder at The Sales Advisory Board

    Closing a sale should be a non event. If you manage the sales process on the front end correctly, the sale will take care of itself. The biggest mistake I see salespeople making is that they focus too much time on the result (closing a sale), but they spend too little time and attention on the process requisite to make a sale happen.

  4. Tom,
    My sentiments exactly!

  5. Keith Snow says:

    keith smith
    Taking Over the World

    Your advice about building rapport, trust and then making sure you are talking to a qualified prospect before asking any final questions works whether you are selling cars, gym memberships, high end home entertainment systems or in your case houses.

  6. You are absolutely spot on Keith. Sales is Sales no matter the product the techniques all work.

  7. Glad you enjoyed the post Rodney. Thanks for the comments.

  8. Jim Anderson says:

    Jim Anderson
    Division Manager at Portrait Homes

    Thanks Shirleen, I think you are right on.

  9. Jen Armstrong says:

    Jen Armstrong
    Account Manager

    Thanks for the posting. I found it very useful being “newer” to the sales field. While I think that the close is important I strongly agree that without the middle the close is null and void. I also agree that it is very easy to get wrapped in the closing side of the sale and to forget that building that trusting relationship will make you one step closer to ensuring that your client returns to you.

  10. Bill Silva says:

    Bill Silva
    Owner, SIRP Environmental & Energy Solutions

    You have some very good points. I sit in on many network business meetings and trainings, relationship building and trust building are necessities before any closing will come. I feel this has changed from the hard sell era.

  11. Jim,
    Glad you enjoyed the article. You can find many more training items for your Sales Agents at

  12. Jen,

    Glad you found it useful.

  13. Catherine Cleveland Baum MIRM says:

    Catherine Cleveland Baum, MIRM
    Vice President Sales & Marketing at Waterford Development LLC

    Somehow, you should send this to every sales & mktg manager in the homebuilding industry. So well said and soooo very true!

  14. Melinda Brody MIRM says:

    Melinda Brody MIRM
    Owner-Melinda Brody & Co/The

    Ahmen, sister…This is exactly the gospel I preach. You need to earn the right to close and you won’t get there unless you are connected to your customer. Consultative selling leads to more closings! Well said.

  15. Thanks Catherine. I have sent it to quite a few and you would be surprised how many don’t open it and read it.

    However I am glad you enjoyed it!

  16. Thanks Melinda Sista Girl… LOL, I appreciate your back up to something that I feel is very important in a sale.

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