As we have discussed many times before, selling is the most important activity your business will ever carry out. In the article 7 top sales skills for entrepreneurs closing was one of the skills highlighted. So how do we become better at closing sales? What are the types of sales closes that we can use to seal deals? How do we know when to close the sale? Closing sales is a high-performance skill and perhaps the most important skill of them all.

Always be closing

I learnt this lesson from an Englishman I once worked with in the sales role. He would say again and again “always be closing”. The idea is that in most sales roles you will have some sort of scripts or guideline as to how you will sell to customers. Most sales scripts will follow The  AIDA model; attention, interest, desire and action. Each step leading to the next culminating in the action steps which is where we close. But if you have any experience with sales and you’re fortunate enough to have had this experience with a product that was in high demand or had a solid pitch or good customer awareness. You may have run into situations where right in the middle of the attention or interest phase of your pitch the prospect says “let’s go ahead and do it right now”. Suddenly your beautiful AIDA model script has been thrown out of the window and you need to move to a close instantly of course what my colleague meant was that regardless of the stage at which you are in your presentation, you should always be driving towards a close. Closes get the business done they get the signature on the line. They get the money in the bank, closes are the business so the very first thing you should learn about closing is that you should always be closing.

Closing signals

One of the surest ways to get yourself in trouble with the prospect is the jump to the close before the prospect is ready for the close. I mentioned earlier my former colleagues “always be closing” principle. You as a salesperson will need to exercise your judgement in spotting a prospect who is ready for the close. The signs are always there but the signs are not so obvious. One sign that is often confused as a closing signal but is not a closing signal, is when someone asks for the price. Someone who asks for the price is still trying to decide if the offer is right for them. Closing signals include but are not limited to people asking questions that are specific to them. “When will I get it at my house”, “will it work with this other component”, “can I get it installed by your people”? Those questions that indicate performing some action with the product after acquiring it are closing signals but remember to read the situation. Do they know enough about the product to ask such a question? You can of course always check with them if they are aware of certain features and benefits of the product to make sure they are fully aware of acquiring the product. In any case, always read the situation.

Types of closes

There are many different types of closes that you can learn to apply. I will mention 3 that I think are particularly useful but with a little research, I’m sure you’ll find more. While I will mention these closes in specific scenarios you can find they work in many different scenarios.

The details close

The details close is a smooth transition into a close the detailed close works best when you have a product weather good or service, that requires the collection of a lot of details about the client or customer to proceed with the sale. Say you have made your presentation and you feel or have seen the signal that the customer is ready to close. You would then simply say something like “let’s go ahead and get your details down so we can process the order”. This allows you to start the close without conducting what is called a hard close. A hard close occurs in a situation where you get a salesperson who emotionally loads the closing moment with anxiety by saying a statement like “are you buying or not”. The problem with the hard close is that it puts the prospect in a situation where anxiety is likely to get the better of them. When making a sale you want to avoid selling to a person in a moment when anxiety is high. Because that’s is usually followed, not always swiftly but at some point, by buyers’ remorse the fallout of which will be at your doorstep. In this day and age of social media and open communication, one case of buyers’ remorse can go very far. What you want is a customer who eases into the decision without the anxiety or an overly emotionally charged moment. So a soft close like the details close allows you to ease into the customer decision. Continue to collect all the details as necessary until all are complete and then allow the customer to append their signature or give the authority whichever the case may be. In this scenario, I have looked at a person making a one-on-one face-to-face sale however the very principle of the details close is used effectively in online channels which collect details long before you are required to make a purchase such as online shopping. They already have your details and that allows them to use the details close and then simply say to you “click to purchase” or “add to cart” or “checkout immediately”. So the details close is not a relic of face-to-face selling but it is active very much in today’s online world.

Scarcity close

The scarcity close is meant to give some sort of urgency to the prospect. You see it is all very well and good for someone to want something but one of the primary objectives of closing is to get them to want to do it now. The scarcity close is all about giving you the power to do that. It is employed effectively in retail shopping. You visit your favourite clothing store and find the perfect item. Upon inspecting the rack the salesperson makes you aware that there are only two left in your size. I can guarantee you that there are almost always more than two left in your size however the idea of scarcity of missing out on the perfect piece of clothing in your size will override any thoughts you may have had about delaying the purchase. That is the scarcity clause at work. So how do you employ this for your products? Well, it depends. If you work on an appointment or on a time basis you can always inform the prospect that you only have a few appointments open within a particular time frame. Say you offer massages and the client says they want to schedule a massage maybe next week or the week after. You could say to them “well the week after only has one slot but I do have two slots open next week which would you prefer?” The scarcity kicks in. They are speaking to you because they want to massage the idea of having to wait longer than they intended to spurs them into action. So the scarcity close works for you in situations like that if you work on time or scheduling basis. You could tell them well I only have one slot in my schedule for this thing next week which is Tuesday 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Be careful however not to abuse the scarcity clause. Regular customers will catch on and any sign of duplicity will rile your regular customers. The best advice is to use the scarcity clause honestly and sparingly, preferably in that order.

The Order Close

Another useful closing technique is the order close. You’ve probably seen this one in online shopping when you order an item it is placed in your cart you will proceed to a checkout page. On the checkout page, the details of the order are confirmed and then you will move to a delivery page. Now on the delivery page, you will usually be given a date of delivery for your order. Depending on the seller you have options for multiple dates which may vary due to the type of delivery you choose. In this case, the close happens at the point where you choose the delivery dates because you have committed to the order. So the order close works by confirming the order with you. The order close tends to work well in situations where there is some sort of delivery. This doesn’t mean only the delivery of goods. For example, as a web designer, you tell all your prospects that you can deliver a fully functioning website within seven days. After discussing all other details with the prospect you can say something like “when do you expect to launch the website”? If the client responds with a date like the 14th you will then say “great, we can start work on your website on the 7th, to have it ready for launch on the 14th all you need to do is to have the deposit paid by the 6th and everything will be on schedule for your website you’ll get the invoice by the end of the day”. The order close works best in time-bound situations but you can tweak it for almost any situation

These close sound situation-specific however they can be tweaked and adapted. Each close I’ve mentioned here focuses on dealing with a particular hurdle that salespeople often experience there is nothing to stop you from combining the closes as you will see is done in many online and automated selling platforms. Finally closes may seem like theory but they are practical subject. I hope this is evidenced by the number of real-world examples I was able to draw from. So practise is key you will get better as you go.