Q&A: Closing a sale

Signing a contractWhen you are negotiating with a customer, the key to closing a sale is to recognise buying signals, make your move and seal the deal. This can be the most satisfying feeling in the world, so, asks Afsheen Latif, how do you raise your chances of making it happen?

Ian Cochrane (IC), of sales-training consultancy Gazing Performance, reveals how to close a sale.

When should I be looking for buying signals?

IC: Throughout the four stages of the selling cycle: opening; identifying customer need; presenting solutions; and closing. Firstly, a customer needs to appear interested, ask for more details and make it clear they want to move forward. Then the customer needs to recognise that you're different from the competition and that you can meet their needs. Lastly, they may express some last-minute buying anxieties, so your job is to reassure them.

What kind of questions should I be asking?

IC: Ask questions that help you identify what a customer wants and that overcome any doubts they may have. For example: "Would you like to go over anything in more detail?" or  "Can this solution meet your need?" or "Do you have any remaining concerns?" Lastly, ask directly for the sale. In other words: "Have I answered all your questions and do we have a deal?"

What should my tone be?

IC: Rather than being upfront and 'in your face', be reassuring. Say things such as "It's not a problem, we've done this before" or "You're not the first person who's been through this".

How can I overcome objections?

IC: Offer alternatives to the customer by going back in your selling cycle to see if you have investigated a customer's needs sufficiently and make sure you have differentiated yourself from your competition as well as you can.

How can I avoid being too pushy?

IC: If you're being too pushy, it's an indication you have not got the information you need from the customer. If that's the case, you need to slow down and go back a few steps.

When is the right time to talk money?

IC: Depends on the individual. Some people might tell you their budget straight away. It's smarter to understand what a person wants, rather than how much money they have to spend. People will often extend their budget if you can meet their needs.

How do I stay in control of the negotiations?

IC: Negotiating does not necessarily mean you have to drop your price; you can offer alternatives. Most people will pay more if they think your product is worth it. Often the buyer has only two choices to make: buy or decline. Once they decide to buy, they can either buy from you or someone else, so have confidence in what you're selling.

What could go wrong?

IC: You might try to make a sale too quickly, without establishing a customer's needs properly. Be satisfied that you have gained answers to your questions throughout the selling cycle. Very often a salesperson will not ask directly for confirmation of the sale. Have the confidence to wrap up the deal.

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