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In golf, it’s called the yips.
It happens to athletes without discrimination based on age or experience. You step up to make a move you might have made thousands of times before—like a ten-foot putt—and suddenly your muscles spasm, you freeze up, or you just simply do the wrong motion. Research still can’t seem to give us a clear answer on why we get the yips. But most people have assumed that it’s related to performance anxiety.
It’s a mental game. Because for most golfers, when you step up to putt, it’s not just about hitting a ball with a club and making it go a certain direction—a motion that they mastered a long, long time ago. It’s about making the ball go in the cup, which means a certain score, which means beating an opponent, which means maybe winning some money, or even a title.
It’s about the pressure.
And here’s the good news: it’s the same thing with closing. Closing a sale is, in many respects, the most important thing that a sales person does. If you never close, you’re never really selling anything. But the problem is that’s so much of how we think about closing. We tie it to all of the effects—making commission, hitting your numbers for the quarter, having a job.
But when you break it down, closing is just one of the strokes you make over the course of a game. You were able to pick up the phone and make that phone call—teeing off, if you will—with no pressure, because you were further away from the result.
So let’s try something: let’s forget about all the pressure we put on ourselves to close, and start thinking about it like a single motion: a technique that you can master, that’s just as simple as all the other techniques in your sales process—whether it’s prospecting, building a pipeline, or maintaining a relationship with an existing client.
With that in mind, here are some real techniques that you can use to focus on the mechanics of closing. Put them into practice, and watch your game massively improve.
As Adam Heitzman, writing for Inc., reminds us, “No matter what industry you are in, knowing the decision maker is crucial to a quick close.” So what exactly does that mean?
In any business, you can have five people working in an office, or five thousand. But no matter the size, any healthy business has a chain of command—meaning not everyone has the same authority to make the call on how money is spent. The person who actually signs off is your decision maker.
So while your initial point of contact at a business may talk a big game about how excited they are to implement your product or service, what they may not be telling you is that it’s not actually up for them to decide.
Unfortunately, identifying the decision maker isn’t exactly a straightforward task. As Hubspot’s Aja Frost cautions us, “The wrong way to ask is, ‘Are you the decision maker?’ Everyone wants to feel important and valued, even if they’re not the ones signing on the dotted line. This question will … [s]abotage this relationship, and you’ll lose their influence.”
Start by asking smart questions about their buying process. Research as much as you can about the organization, and even ask other folks on your sales team how they go about doing it. A little collaboration never hurt!
It may sound old hat, but the best defense in sales truly is a great offense. Naturally, no matter how well that first call goes, your prospects—or their bosses—are going to have concerns about your product.
Unfortunately for you, that doesn’t always mean that they’ll come back to you with those concerns. They might just dismiss the whole thing as too much of a hassle, and move on.
That’s why we are firm believers in raising objections to your prospect. In fact, it’s a great way to get your foot back in the door after that initial conversation. Find out what common objections have been from other similar clients, prepare good answers for how to overcome those objections, and then give your prospect a call.
Not only does this quell fears, but it shows your client you care, and opens the door wide for a great close.
One technique we love to bring up here on the blog is creating urgency: Set deadlines, be willing to walk away.
Sometimes, especially if you’ve been going through a bit of a dry spell, a customer can sense our desperation—and it actually ends up being a turnoff.
But creating urgency doesn’t mean pressuring someone into BUYING RIGHT NOW, QUICK! It’s about showing them an opportunity that they can’t walk away from.
One of the simplest ways to create that urgency is to introduce a sale or promotional period that has an end date. “Hey, just FYI, our boss told us that if we can get customers to sign on before the end of August, she’ll approve a discounted rate.”
And before you know it, they’re in a rush to get you to close.
If these are already techniques that you’re employing, or the trickiest part for you is initiating the close itself, then maybe you just need a little change in perspective in terms of how you’re broaching the topic.
Enter your new best friend: The Assumptive Close.
Writing for SalesForce Search, Claire McConnachie defines this brilliant technique very simply: The assumptive close “involves using a phrase or language that assumes the close is a done deal. For example, you could close with, ‘What day do you want to receive your shipment?’”
If you feel like you’ve had a great sales process so far—whether the client has minimal objections, or you simply have that feeling that they’re absolutely on the hook—the assumptive close gets you around the need to broach the conversation so directly. Just assume they’re in, and start talking like it.
Sometimes, it really is that simple.
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