6 Essential Sales Steps to Closing a Deal

Closing deals is the way you make money. See, you can be working a hundred deals, but if none of them close… you are still broke.

But to be honest, most people I know don’t have any problems getting leads or working deals. What they seem to struggle with the most is actually closing those deals.

In the last ten years, I’ve closed some serious deals with enterprise companies or consultancy work using the following techniques. I’ve used them, tweaked them and practiced them. The proof they work is in the amount of money I’ve made in the last ten years… which has been significant.

So, if you want to want to close more deals and make more money take a look at these six essentials steps.

Find the decision maker

Far too many deals have died because people were talking to the wrong person. In other words, the mistake they made was they forgot to qualify. So, your very first step in closing the deal is always to find the person who has the authority to pull the trigger.

Let’s imagine you get an email from Microsoft who wants to talk to you about what you do. After you exchange an email or two with this person, ask them if you can set up a call. But ask them who else should be on the call. This could be their boss, director or even executive level. You always want to get the person who can write the check. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and cut through the fog.

  1. Who makes the decisions in your organization or department?
  2. How do you go about making decisions like this?
  3. What’s the protocol for pulling a trigger on a job like this?
  4. Are you ultimately responsible for this decision?

This may turn the person off. If that happens, so be it… but then contact someone else at the company and try to get to that decision maker, telling them that someone from their company contacted you and you’ve actually identified a problem you can help them solve. Think of that person who tried to shut you down as the person who actually opened it.

In every deal there is someone who controls or influences a deal… you always need to get in front of that person.

Recognize the buying window

Even if you get the decision maker on the phone, you may never close the deal because it’s not the right time. The buying window is not open.

Find this out immediately… before you send out samples, create proposals, visit the campus or fine tune your portfolio for a presentation. Otherwise you may be wasting your time because they are not thinking of doing anything soon.

Imagine someone says, “We’re in the information collection stage.” Ask them to be very specific. “What do you mean when you say, We’re in the information collection stage?”

The idea is to get them to give you a timeline. Are they going to collect information for the next three months? Three weeks? Three days? When that stage is done, what’s next?

When do they plan on pulling the trigger?

Again, do not be afraid to ask blunt questions (most people can handle the truth). You can soften your bluntness by saying, “Hey, just don’t want to waste anybody’s time, but what is your timeline? When do you think you are going to want this done?”

You never know. You might be talking to someone who is operating on a fraction of their budget and they don’t have the money. “Do you guys have this in this in your budget? Do you have a budget? When will you get a new budget?”

That last question is important if you are seeing that there is no buying window because you want to find out if they will be interested in the future. If they tell you in six months they’ll have the budget, mark that date in your calendar and tell them you’ll talk to them.

And don’t waste anymore time. Go after another deal.

Create a sense of urgency

On the other side of the buying window is your own window of time. Your prospect may be happy to close the deal. They may have the budget and really be excited about what you have to offer. They may have fallen in love with you… and look forward to working with you. But they never seem to get around to it.

That’s why you need to create a sense of urgency. Here are ten ways to do that:

  1. Show them it’s safe to move now. Demonstrate to your prospect that what you are offering is a better solution to what they are using/doing right now. You are tugging on their sense of security.
  2. Get them to take a risk. Sometimes your prospect is hanging back because he is afraid to spend the money working with you. One of the very first clients I had we exchanged dozens of emails… I could tell they were unsure about hiring a young guy to do their SEO work. But I spent the time showing them the risk was worth it. And I said, “What do you have to lose?”
  3. Make them want it really bad. This is a tough question, but I have to ask it: “When prospects talk to you… do they really want what you’re selling?” They have to be emotional about what you do so they feel crazy not going without you. But how do you do that? The answer lies in the secret of selling which can be summed up in four words: perceived difference and perceived value.
  4. Show them it fits with their passion. If you can connect the dots between something that makes your prospect passionate and what you do… then closing them will be easy since they will now see the urgency. For example, some guys are nuts about Fantasy Football. These guys will pay a premium for some sort of edge they can get in the game. Price will never be the issue for these prospects if you can show them how you can help them.
  5. Deal with scarcity. Ever try to buy a snow shovel or snow blower during a snowstorm? What about a chain saw after a hurricane ravages a region? These items will easily quadruple in price due to their scarcity. Can you create an urgency of scarcity that suggest if they don’t move now… they’ll miss out? Limited availability, whether you are selling a product or service, is the best form of scarcity. For example, simply saying, “I can only take in one client this year” is creating a sense of urgency.
  6. Hit that greed button. If you’re dealing with someone who has to hit their numbers or gets a bonus if they nail their results, then you can use that to create a sense of urgency. “Listen, I can help you optimize your systems so you hit production efficiency and get you your month quota. Then how much you pay me won’t matter.”
  7. Hit that vanity button. The other side of the coin is making the person look good. Maybe you can help them get that promotion or pat on the back. I have a friend who helps company execs get in the press, which strokes their ego. He usually plays each off of the other by saying, “Look, I got him in the press. I can help you do the same thing.” Helping someone get one up on someone else creates urgency.
  8. Show them why they should be afraid. Finally, if you can show them how they will lose if they don’t work with you, then you will create a sense of urgency. “If you don’t fix that problem, are you going to be okay when the CEO walks into your office and asks what happened?” That’s not a day very many people want to experience.
  9. Set a deadline. The prime example of urgency is the feeling that something has to be done at a certain point.
  10. Play off their competition. Can you convince them that if you don’t work for them you’ll be forced to work with their competition… helping them to achieve the same results? This works wonderfully if you combine vanity and competition. For some people, the thought of their competitor getting some kind of edge will drive them nuts and make them do anything.

There are other ways to create urgency, but these are the classic ten. Can you share any other ways?

Share useful information or news 

I don’t want to give you the idea that this process all happens within the span of a two-hour meeting. Typically, the sales process might be days or weeks as you exchange emails, talk on the phone, send proposals back and forth and even show up a time or two at their offices.

It just depends on your price tag and the sales process.

Because this process can drag out over time, however, continue to feed them information that is helpful, instructional and practical.

  1. You might come across an article on a new development by a competing pharmaceutical company.
  2. It could be a story about how you helped a client achieve similar results.
  3. Maybe a new study comes out that will impact how your prospect goes about buying supplies.
  4. Perhaps a law changes that impacts the way your prospect can advertise.
  5. Google makes a significant shift in their algorithm (Panda, for example) that changes the way they were thinking of handling their business.

This tactic keeps you tied to your prospect in a non-threatening way while all of the business stuff goes on in the background. And it builds that relationship that is critical to getting to a yes.

Speaking of getting to a yes…

Getting them to say “Yes” or “Yes”

As this relationship with the prospect grows you will come to a point where you will ask for the sale. Where I was encouraging you to be very blunt up to this point, subtly rules here.

See, the average salesman or woman will ask for the order:

  1. “Would you like an appetizer with that?”
  2. “So, would you like the extended warranty?”
  3. “Can I write you up for a subscription?”

That’s blunt. But the problem with taking an order like that is you are giving the prospect an opportunity to say “No.” Do that and you’ll never get the sale.

Instead, pose a “yes” or “yes” question. Let’s look at the examples I used above: “You guys want to start off with a beer or an appetizer?” Most people will choose one or the other because you have to be quick and thinking… and a little courageous… to say “No.”

“So, would you like liability coverage or extended warranty?” That answer will probably generate a response for more information, which is good. It keeps the sale alive.

“Did you want premium or personal subscription?” Again, that gets them thinking about the best option… not about the other option… no.

The way I got great at this tactic was to use it as much as possible in all my interactions, whether with family or friends or business.

If I’m trying to get an appointment, I’ll say, “Would you like to talk on Wednesday or Thursday? Your choice.”

Other examples include:

  1. “Do you guys want to hear about the basic or performance version of my service?”
  2. “Is this a good time to transition to talking about benefits or results? Which would you prefer?”
  3. “Did you want to pay half up front or full to get the 10% discount?”

The trick to making all of these tactics work is to make them as natural as possible. And the only way to do that is to practice them.

Ask one more time

If you happen to get a no in spite of all the work you’ve done… and you are bound to get a no… don’t let that frustrate you or get you down. The secret to closing more deals is to brush that off and circle around and ask again.

It’s not being rude or showing that you can’t hear… it’s the sign of persistence, confidence and courage… the kind of leadership qualities a good prospect likes to see. The thing you have to remember with asking one more time is that you have to ask a different way.

For example, “Instead of paying for me to spend a month at your offices, why don’t we cut back to two weeks and I’ll make myself available via phone for those other two weeks. How will that work?”

“You said you weren’t interested in hiring me because you wanted to find someone who knew SEO and usability… what if you hire me and I’ll spend my own money learning usability? Will that work?”

Of course you need to be prepared and you need to be creative when dealing with alternatives. So before you talk, knock out a few ideas in case they come up with a no.

Conclusion

I use these six steps in my own deal making and encourage companies I consult with to teach them to their sales teams. They are classics that have been proven to work for decades… and can work for you, too.

But I want to emphasize one more time… they work best when you practice, practice and practice. Either practice in the mirror, on your commute, with a partner or in the actual sales call. Any experience is better than no experience!

So, what other tactics have you found helpful when it comes to closing more deals?

Reader’s Toolbox:

1. Common Sales Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
2. Can You Handle the Truth?
3. Google Panda
4. The Startup Guide to Building a Killer Sales Team

 

Neil Patel

Neil Patel's infographics appear here courtesy of Quick Sprout, Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. Neil has also been awarded Congressional Recognition from the United States House of Representatives. For more info about him and his work visit Quick Sprout