The sales closing secret?

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When I ask professionals or business owners, "What's your biggest problem when you’re selling? Almost all of them say, "Closing the sale."

Every week I receive calls from professionals wanting to learn how to be better closers. Some want to learn different techniques to close more sales. Some want to improve the closing skills of their salespeople. I tell them that it’s not their closing skills that are the issue – that's a symptom of a bigger issue.

These people have misdiagnosed the problem. They believe that the one skill missing in their sales process is “how to close.” They think they’re not closing the sale because they lack that magical phrase, slick one-liner or some fancy closing statement.

There is no secret sentence, magical phrase or covert closing technique that transforms someone into a sales closing rock star. What does create a transformation? What does produce rock star sales results?

It’s your opening skills!

Opening is the new closing! The opening of a sales call or meeting can be the most critical. It can also be the least forgiving. There are serious consequences of a bad start. The slightest misstep can result in a closed door and a lost sale.

There’s a beginning, middle and end to any sales presentation, conversation or situation. Sales people don’t realize that the first few moments have an enormous impact on whether the sale will be successful. Every word you say and how you say it is either pushing people away or drawing them toward you. Are you attracting or repelling your clients and customers?

The “closing problem” is the symptom. There are many reasons why sales are lost. Sales are rarely lost because people can’t close. It is a blatant indication of the much larger issue. Fixing the larger problem with closing a technique is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

The answer is whole-hearted commitment to work on the actual problem. Be willing to dig in and get to the core of the real issues.

For decades and to this day, people are trained to focus their energy on the close. Move the sale forward. Sign the contract. Hit your quota. Seal the deal. All of these are pertinent. Yet the agenda is hyper-focused on one part of the sales process—the close.

Little attention is given to the other elements of the sales process that matter more, like the opening!  It’s about checking to see if you are connecting authentically, qualifying effectively, building credibility and gaining trust. Focusing on asking great questions. Listening to what is being said and not said. It’s about fully understanding your customer’s pains, problems and challenges.

Today’s buyers are smart and savvy. Any attempt to “close them” can send them to your competition. Your customers are tired of being on the receiving end of this type of sales interaction. So tired that while you are learning how to be better at closing, they are busy learning how to be better at buying.

Get back to the basics. Forget about tricks and slick closing lines. Stop using outdated techniques like The Ben Franklin, the puppy dog, the porcupine or the hard close. Tricks and techniques are for amateurs.

The “close” is the culmination of a great sales conversation. The close is a process, not an event. Master every component of the sales process from opening to closing. Create a conversation where your prospects feel you are there for them and not to close them.

Successful selling is not “closing” people. Successful selling is helping people close themselves. Successful selling is creating an atmosphere and experience that makes people want to buy from you.

Try that, and I bet you’ll find that you no longer have a closing problem.

Categories: Sales & Marketing