Sales Closing: How to Ask for the SaleArticle by Colleen Francis, March 24, 2023
When it comes to sales closing, sales training, or sales prospecting, have you been taught how to actually close?
I meet a lot of salespeople who regularly struggle to meet their quarterly targets. They’re not closing enough sales. That much is apparent to them. But why aren’t they closing enough?
There are two reasons: either they don’t ask for the sale at all or they think they are doing that…but really aren’t.
Consider how much is at stake. I have a client in the farm equipment business. One day, I learned they had a stack of unfilled quotes from customers…adding up to about six million dollars! The seller had let each of those customers walk out the door without an ask. With coaching, the seller circled back to those customers, methodically asked for the sale and generated two million in new sales. So, it’s worth asking yourself: how many unfilled quotes are on my desk right now?
The Fear of No
Granted, making the ask for a sale is hard for some sellers. Many struggle with what’s sometimes called the fear of no. They fear rejection, fear the unknown, or worry they might seem aggressive to the customer…and then avoid doing the job they were hired to do. Luckily, I’ve lifelong immunity from this—thanks to my first experiences as a kid selling chocolate bars door-to-door to fundraise for amateur sports. There was no sales process there. It was entirely about closing and hearing a lot of rejection.
Sadly, not all of us get that kind of lifelong immunity. Here’s how you get over yourself and start asking methodically and persistently for the sale with every customer.
Sales Closing: 6 Strategies to Methodically and Persistently Ask for the Sale
1. You Must Practice
If asking for a sale feels awkward or salesy to you, then you must keep making the ask until it doesn’t anymore. Practice also applies to those sellers—and I’ve seen this for myself in coaching them—who over-complicate the act of asking for a sale (this leads to vagueness or the customer misunderstanding them). Only practice gives you a process and instills consistency and clarity of purpose.
2. You Must Define the Next Step
It is not your customer’s job to know the next step in a sales process. That’s up to you: the seller. Make sure when you are practicing your ask for a sale that you clearly define those steps. Do this by asking them pointed questions. For example: Are you ready to go ahead? What would you like to do next here? Where do we go from here?
3. You Must Review Your Sales Pipeline
Just like in the example I cited earlier in this article, you must review every unfilled quote and every opportunity where there has yet to be a closed sale. Use each one as your test case after all that practicing you’ve been doing. You might say: “I was reviewing our previous discussions and realized we never finalized your order…are you ready to proceed?”
4. You Must Welcome the Unexpected
Even with a lot of practice, your customer might say no. And that’s OK! Remember that top sellers only ever close 45% or less of the opportunities they have. And there’s another side to the unknown: the unexpected. The ask you are making might not give you the sale you were looking for or it might give you a brand new one simply because you put yourself back on your customer’s radar.
5. You Must Play the Role of Customer and Seller
Roleplaying is a powerful learning tool because it teaches you how to get into the mind of both the buyer and the seller. That way, you can understand each buying objection and address them skillfully as the seller. Do this until you are comfortable in both roles. That will only happen, however, if you invest the time as part of your practice sessions. Typically, sellers begin to see results after as little as a couple of sessions (provided they’ve taken the sessions seriously).
6. You Must Bring Some Company
Never assume that your closing techniques are rock-solid and you always define the next steps for your customers with crystal-clear clarity. Bring a manager or a sales coach with you to shadow your next sales meeting. They will point out what you are doing well and what you are missing in your efforts to ask for each sale.
Always remember: while asking for a sale can sometimes feel like a difficult task, that’s your job as a seller. No excuses. It is up to you to overcome the fear of no. With practice and discipline, you’ll soon be closing more sales in less time and enjoying the success that you really want to experience in this business.