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Closing Time

By Chuck Scheibe
Georgia Sales Development Inc.,
a Sandler Sales Affiliate

No, I don't mean "LAST CALL!!!" I mean that whatever type of selling you may be involved with, when you believe you have a qualified prospect and are ready to close the order, what happens next?

First you have to fulfill your verbal commitments and agreements made during the discovery of needs, financial considerations, and decision-making process. More than likely, this is your proposal (including the presentation).

Secondly, if you are successful in the first step, you have to do your best to lock in the decision your customer makes to buy from you. They can and will get what we all know as "buyers remorse" and have second thoughts or are vulnerable to the competition coming back in and unhooking your order.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you move to this stage of the buying process:

  1. The Review. It's important to review the needs, wants, and desires you have uncovered. Especially those urgent enough for the prospect to want to change. Review the financial and decision-making information you have discovered and obtain confirmation that it is accurate. If it is, then make sure you have an understanding from your prospect as to what they will do with the information (your solution) that is presented and how and when they will take action. If you have done your work professionally, you will not hear "we need to think about it and we"ll get back to you."
  2. The Presentation. The purpose of the presentation is to get a decision from the prospect, not to educate. It should cover the needs you have discovered and your features and benefits that address those needs. If you have not uncovered a need for a particular feature or benefit, DO NOT GIVE THEM A PRESENTATION ON THAT FEATURE OR BENEFIT. If you don't know that they need it, it can only hurt your chances. If you have multiple issues to address, let the prospect decide which order to present them in. Get a decision on the comfort level with each individual issue rather than going through the entire list and then asking for a decision. An example of this is to cover a point and take their temperature by asking, "On a scale of 0 to 10, how do you feel about our solution to that issue?" There is no requirement to complete the presentation if the prospect is ready to buy and indicates so. Move on to the next phase.
  3. The Confirmation. Once the prospect is at a 10 on your presentation you need to ask, "how do you want to proceed?" You may need to help them by suggesting that a possible step may be to issue a purchase order, or sign an agreement, or whatever your business process is. The point here is to understand that the prospect is responsible for closing the order or saying "no."
  4. The Lock In. When they decide to do business with you be sure you don't take the check and run. Be patient with them and bring up the reasons you feel they made that decision and seek their support for those reasons. If they are not comfortable about any solution, you need to work that issue until they are (while you are still in front of them). If you don't, you leave yourself open to back outs or the competition coming back in.

The more information you have before you enter this phase, the more your chances of success in closing the order will improve.