Many of the closing techniques that regularly appear in sales books are fine for simple situations like selling kitchenware and the sale starts and ends in the same session without anyone else being involved. Selling services to large corporates is normally much more complex. If you do not win the sale you need to leave the door open for future sales opportunities and using “strong arm” closing tactics tend to go down like a lead balloon.
Unfortunately, in sales you do need to help most people to make a decision one way or the other. Otherwise the sale just stalls and drags on forever. With more complex sales you tend to have more defined stages to the sales process and not just a single meeting where you get someone to sign on the dotted line. Instead its a bit like helping them join you walking across stepping stones and you need them to decide to join you in making the next step together. Each decision to make a step needs a close, not just the decision at the end of the sale. Yet each step gets you closer to a “yes” when they make the BIG decision.
In my experience, the best consultative selling techniques for closing the sale tend to flow so naturally as part of the conversation that they go totally undetected. The simplest and yet the one I tend to use most often is what I call “The Next Step”
When you get to a stage in the sales process where it feels appropriate to move the sale onto the next stage, or indeed to close the sale completely, you simply look at the other person and say something followed by “What’s the next step?” – and then be quiet. For example:
- “So, I feel we both understand your requirements – what’s the next step?”
If you have done your consultative selling correctly then the other person will feel comfortable in telling you. And the responses will be like:
- “perhaps you should speak to x and y to get their input”
- “Perhaps you should send me in a proposal and we can take it from there”
- “Perhaps we should get something in the diary”
As with any other sales technique, you need to practice so that it comes naturally. And you need to understand each stage of the sales process and how to know when one stage is drawing to a natural close. I recommend that rather than experimenting with live prospects and potentially spoiling opportunities, ask your manager or sales coach to do some role play with you. Just get them to pretend they are a prospect and do it over and over again until you feel comfortable with it and it just flows nicely.