Particularly if you are new to selling, asking for an order or to close a deal can generate some anxiety. If you have participated in athletic or other competitions, you have heard the term “choking”. No worries…it’s normal. I have been playing tennis competitively for almost 50 years and still get nervous at key moments.
Closing a deal should be a natural conclusion of the selling process vs. fancy/pushy questions. Here are some thoughts on how you might become more comfortable with this part of the selling process.
Review what you know
An old sales manager I reported to used to say “knowledge is power”. In this context, I would add that “knowledge is confidence and comfort”. Take a look at how well you understand the situation:
- Challenges that are driving customer interest
- Timeline customer has in mind
- Decision process
- Key players in the decision process
- Decision criteria
- Competitors and their strategy
- Who is your best “coach” inside the customer
If you find you have “gaps” in this critical information, prioritize scheduling time to close them. If your information is rock solid, then you have improved your ability to naturally bring this deal to closure.
Closing the knowledge gaps
Obtaining the information you need is best pursued with one of the following:
- Customer contact that is willing to “coach” you
- Peer from another organization calling on the same customer
- Co-workers that have worked with the same or similar customers
Provide an overview of what you are trying to achieve and actively seek the guidance you need.
Reframe “closing” as “continuing the conversation”
Let’s assume you have done a great job with gathering information you need (outlined above) and have presented solution(s) that resolve the customer’s challenges and align to their timeline. This is when you want to ask “open ended” questions (start with who, what, when, where or why). For example:
- What do you think about how I have summarized the challenges you shared? Your goals?
- Which, if any, of the solutions I have outlined align best to how you want to approach achieving your goals?
- What, if any, concerns do you have?
Taking this approach will provide learning moments
No matter how well you prepare, sometimes in selling you will get surprised or find out you missed some key information. “Continuing the conversation” with open ended questions will help you learn what the customer is really thinking and make the idea of closing a deal seem less challenging.