Selling lies at the heart of business, but most small business owners aren’t naturally skilled at closing sales. Seven in 10 male small business owners don’t like sales, a number that rises to eight in 10 among female small business owners, a TD Bank survey found. Even professional sales representatives aren’t generally confident in their selling ability, with only 27 percent saying they feel they’ve mastered the fundamentals of sales, according to Krauthammer research.
Lack of sales confidence typically reflects a lack of training. Learning sales strategy can help you feel more confident about selling and can boost your closing success. Here are three keys to improving your sales closing rate.
Script Your Closes
A low sales closing rate often stems from a lack of preparation, and the first key to closing more sales is to be prepared. The sales process follows a predictable pattern, and knowing the “script” for this pattern can help you close more deals, says leading sales psychology expert Dr. Donald Moine. The close normally follows after you have built trust with your prospect, discussed their needs with them, and highlighted the benefits of your product; and it is normally followed by answering any sales objections your prospect has. Knowing this, you can write a script to rehearse each of these phases of your sales presentation, including your close.
A well-scripted close should have three elements. First, there is a transition from the body of your sales presentation into your close. This can be a simple phrase to let your prospect know you’re about to ask for a sale, such as, “What I’d like to do now is make you a special one-time offer for new customers.” After transitioning into your close, you can describe the heart of your closing offer. This should include the name of what you’re offering, the price you’re asking, details about what’s included, any incentives such as bonuses, risk reducers such as guarantees, and other important details such as payment terms and methods. Finally, at the end of the close, you ask for the sale. For instance, you can say something like, “Would you like to move forward?” Or to take a famous example, a McDonald’s cashier is asking for a sale when they ask, “Would you like something to drink with that?” Scripting a close can be this simple.
Set the Stage for Your Close with Probing Questions
When a close fails, it’s often because you didn’t lay the groundwork in the earlier part of your sales presentation. A successful close naturally follows from a well-crafted sales presentation delivered to a qualified prospect. The best way to qualify your prospect and prepare them for your close is to ask good probing questions.
Probing questions seek to elicit key information about your prospect’s needs, as well as their decision-making process and budget, Brooks Group sales vice president Lisa Rose explains. To identify your prospect’s needs, you can ask them questions about the type of problem they’re experiencing, as well as what type of solution they envision. This can include questions such as what frustrations they have with their current product, how much money their problem is costing them, and what type of deadline they require for a solution. It’s also important to ask questions about a prospect’s buying process and budget in order to qualify them as a potential buyer. For instance, you might ask who besides them is involved in the decision to buy, what criteria are most important to them, and how much they’re looking to spend for a solution. Getting answers to these types of questions will let you know whether your prospect is ready for a close, as well as which benefits are most likely to persuade them to buy.
Plan Responses to Overcome Sales Objections
After you deliver your close, your prospect may decide to buy at that point, but in many cases, they will respond with one or more sales objections. In most cases, these objections will fall into a few common categories, such as complaints that the price is too high, they need more time to think about it, or they’re not convinced your product will work for them. By anticipating these objections, you can plan your responses, increasing your ability to overcome resistance and make the sale.
Some objections are common across all industries, while others are very specific to certain industries, companies, or products. For instance, some entrepreneurs thinking of getting into the direct sales business may have heard scam allegations and may be wondering, is this company a pyramid scheme? Anticipating this objection, Amway’s website includes a page describing how the direct sales company’s business model differs from common pyramid schemes, and then taking the opportunity to explain how Amway actually works, providing entrepreneurs with quality products and solid marketing and sales support. This illustrates how you can take a sales objection and turn it into a sales opportunity by preparing the right response.
Sales can be challenging and intimidating, but with the right strategy, you can learn to boost your closing rate. By scripting your closes, using informative probing questions, and planning responses to sales objection, you can close more sales, sell more products and services, and make more money.