How to Close a Deal Effectively: 7 Must-Know Techniques to Unlock Profitable Sales
The moment when the prospect signs on the dotted line and officially becomes a customer is one of the most exciting parts of being a salesperson. However, successfully closing out sales is not easy — otherwise it wouldn’t be nearly so rewarding.
Closing sales consistently requires a few key ingredients:
- A holistic understanding of the sales journey
- The right sales techniques for each different situation
- An effective follow-up plan
Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks to help you nail all three of these crucial elements of closing deals.
Understanding the Sales Process
To understand how to close a sale effectively, you first need to understand the steps of the sales process. Your sales process should be unique to your business to reflect your specific goals and the needs of your target customers. However, you can use these five steps as a core framework for understanding the sales journey in general:
Step 1: Research
Once you’ve identified a strong prospect, don’t rush into your sales pitch right away. First, you need to do some research to learn everything you can about the prospect. Primarily, you need to make sure you understand what kinds of pain points they experience and what kinds of goals they're trying to meet. In a B2B sales process, this will require not only studying the prospect themselves, but also the entire organization they represent. For example, who is the relevant decision maker at the organization? Just as importantly, you need to familiarize yourself with your own business’s products and services so you know exactly what to offer the prospect to align with their needs.
Step 2: Coordinating Budgets and Timelines
Discussing budgets and timelines is a two-way street. Make sure you and the prospect are both clear on what the prospect is expecting vs. what your business is able to provide. If a prospect simply doesn’t have the budget for your solution or isn’t interested in implementing it until a year from now, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later. Likewise, if a client has a shorter timeline or a wider scope in mind than your business can manage, it’s much better to address the discrepancy up front.
Step 3: Proposing Solutions
Throughout the entire sales process, remember to focus on problems and solutions. You’re not selling a product — you’re selling a solution to a problem. You might be excited about your product’s full range of capabilities, but each prospect is only interested in how the product addresses their pain points in particular. You’ll close more deals if you find out what problems your prospects are currently experiencing and explain how your product will solve those problems.
Step 4: Addressing Objections
Even after you’ve researched your prospect, aligned budgets and timelines, and presented your product as the solution to their problem, a prospect may still have objections. Some of the most common reasons for potential customers to hesitate include issues with pricing, delivery timelines, product features, or availability. Try to anticipate potential objections and address them in your pitch before the prospect feels the need to raise the concern themselves. This shows them that you’re proactive about reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. If the prospect does raise an objection you hadn’t counted on, listen respectfully to their point of view, validate their concerns, and do your best to negotiate an offer that satisfies both parties’ needs.
Step 5: Asking for the Sale
Don’t get all the way to the finish line and then fail to make a clear ask. Be sure to propose a definitive offer once you feel that the prospect is fully informed and warmed up to the idea of your solution. It’s crucial to project a sense of confidence at this point in the sales process. Depending on the situation, you can use one (or more than one) of the following techniques to nail the final step in the sales process and successfully close the deal:
- Now or Never
- Sharp Angle
- Take Away
- Something for Nothing
- Opportunity Cost
- Test Drive
- Sense of Urgency
Effective Sales Closing Techniques
Let’s explore these seven techniques for closing sales in more detail:
1. Sense of Urgency
Creating a sense of urgency is one of the cornerstones of an effective close. For example, it’s helpful in many cases to set a date by which you need to hear the prospect’s decision. This prevents the prospect from remaining on the fence for very long and forces them to commit or risk missing out altogether. Several of the following techniques on this list involve different ways to build a sense of urgency. Whichever way you choose to create it, urgency is one of your most effective tools for gaining the upper hand in sales negotiations.
2. Now or Never
The now or never technique involves offering the prospect some kind of benefit that they can only get if they commit right now. A common example of this tactic is offering potential customers extra features or a special discount if they sign up today. If there are a limited number of spots available, make sure the prospect is aware. Now or never closes work especially well in situations where you’re speaking with the prospect in real time, such as face-to-face or over the phone.
3. Sharp Angle
The sharp angle close involves agreeing to a prospect’s request and then immediately proposing something favorable for you in return. This is a common sales strategy when countering a prospect who has the upper hand in the negotiation. For example, if a prospect asks you to come down on price, the sharp angle approach would be to respond with something like: “sure, I can do that — if we make that price happen, are you willing to sign today?”
4. Take Away
The take away close is a great way to persuade a prospect who’s heard the benefits of your solution but is still hesitating due to price. If you meet them at their desired price point, but remove an attractive feature in order to do so, the prospect may reconsider so they can keep the feature. Essentially, you’re offering the prospect a discounted version of your product or service to highlight what they’ll miss out on. Or, they may accept the discounted offer, in which case you’ve still made a sale.
5. Something for Nothing
Everyone loves getting free stuff. No matter what kind of product or service you’re selling or who your customers are, you can create extra incentive by offering something for free. The freebie could be an extra product feature, complementary installation, expanded support services, or many other types of offers. This technique is particularly useful as a show of goodwill from a business that hasn't yet established much social proof or as a way to convince a prospect to switch over from a competitor.
6. Opportunity Cost
The opportunity cost technique forces the prospect to consider what they would risk or lose by refusing the chance to implement your solution. For example, if you sell onboarding software, point out the opportunities to lower hiring costs the prospect would miss out on. If you sell cybersecurity software, point out the risks associated with an under-protected website. The idea is to get the prospect thinking about the downsides of waiting any longer to commit to a purchase.
7. Test Drive
The test drive tactic is when you invite the prospect to try your product or service for free, such as by offering a limited-time free trial. Offering the prospect a free test drive eliminates any risk on their end — and once they’ve experienced the benefits of your solution firsthand, they’ll likely feel more comfortable committing to a large purchase or long-term contract.
How to Follow up on a Closed Deal
Closing the deal is only half the battle. The next step is to follow up with the customer to cement a lasting relationship. Here are a few tips for following up effectively after you’ve made a sale:
Say Thank You
The first step to following up after you close a deal is to send a “thank you” message promptly after closing the deal (absolutely no later than 3 days after closing). Be sure to craft a personalized message for each customer that makes them feel like they matter — a generic “thank you” won’t have nearly as much of an impact. This simple gesture is a great way to ensure your business stays at the forefront of the customer’s mind and makes them more likely to remain a loyal customer for a long time to come.
Ask For Feedback
All the boilerplate advice in the world is less valuable than honest feedback. While your network of mentors and fellow salespeople can be a great source of feedback on your sales techniques, the very best way to find out how you’re doing is to ask your customers. After you make a sale, follow up with a survey about the customer’s experience during the sales process. Include qualitative questions that you can use to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and improve your tactics for future sales.
Closing just one deal isn’t enough to keep your business afloat for very long. One of the most effective ways to find new leads to pursue is to ask for referrals from the customers you close with. Of course, your customers will talk to other people regardless, and the best way to ensure that their word-of-mouth is positive is to provide outstanding products, services, and experiences. However, once you’ve built a rapport with a customer, you can ask them directly if they know of anyone else who might benefit from your services. Chances are, they’ll be happy to refer you to someone in their network.
Closing a deal is a victory — and it’s okay to celebrate your victories! However, don’t celebrate too early and throw yourself off track. Often, the best time to close a deal is after you’ve just closed another deal. Use your successes to motivate you and springboard yourself into even further success. Then, at the end of a productive week of closing deals, you can kick back and reward yourself for a job well done.
Keep Your Promises
If you remember to do only one thing on this list of follow-up steps, remember to keep the promises you make to the customer during the sales process. It may be tempting to offer more than you know you can deliver just to get the prospect to close, but a deal you can’t back up will only do harm. Once the customer has signed, you’ve made a firm commitment, and you need to be prepared to keep your end of the bargain. Consistently sticking to your word will build you a reputation as an honest company that takes care of its customers and net you a great deal of positive word-of-mouth.
Learn How to Close a Sales Deal with Help from the Experts
Incorporating all of these tips can help you become a better sales rep and close more deals. However, there’s nothing quite like learning from experience. The more you sell, the more practice you’ll get, and the more success you’ll have closing deals.
If you want to fast-track your learning curve, try tapping into the experience of someone who’s been at it for longer than you have. You can find sales advisors right here at Mentorcam who have years of experience and successful track records selling to customers just like yours.
- Carl Carell is a B2B sales expert and the founder of Get Accept, an all-in-one digital sales room platform.
- Billy Bosch is a B2C sales expert and the founder of ICONIC Protein, a leading natural protein supplement brand in the United States.
- Davis Clute is a B2C e-commerce sales expert and the co-founder and CEO of the e-commerce baby products company Hiccapop.