I usually do my best to avoid conversations around closing techniques, for I believe that closing is a process that depends on excellence throughout the entire sales cycle, rather than a point in time where tips and tricks, and other manipulative tactics can get the prospect to say yes. As one of my former managers used to say: “The deal is actually closed before the deal happens.”
Anyway, last week, as I was discussing closing – surprise, surprise – with a sales rep, I thought that a conversation focused on those specific last steps of the process was not such a bad idea at the end.
Before we start, I couldn’t resist sharing with you this cool game which is the online version of a show I sometimes watch on TV, as it’s quite fun watching people make decisions, most of the time wrong, and I usually can’t help “PI-ing*” them to understand why they did or didn’t accept the deal.
· “PI-ing”: art of using Predictive Index to understand your own personality type, and other’s personality type, and adapting your communication style accordingly. Very useful skill to survive a dinner with your in-laws.
Ok, just promise me you will play at home only.
Now, food for thought:
I will never say it enough and, as obvious as it seems to be: Ask, Ask and Ask are the best closing techniques. Be the best listener you can. Hear your prospect’s pain; what can you do to solve it? And if there’s anything you can add to his equation, focus on that.
Imagination and creativity definitely help the closing steps. Good closers tend to find solutions. Weak closers tend to get stuck on positions.
Leverage the team.
If you’re co-selling, have you formally defined a “team strategy” for closing, with clear roles and responsibilities?
First, the collective amount of experience and knowledge, and internal exchange of information within a team usually help to produce more trade-offs and creative options. Second, a team feels more secure and powerful than solo negotiators. Third, a team feels less pressured to make too many concessions. And fourth, a team of negotiators brings a wider range of skills, experiences, and expertise than solo negotiators. Identify the strengths within the internal team to define who is doing what.
You can use methodologies such as the Predictive Index or extended DISC to find out your personality type, understand other’s type and adapt your communication style.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Get formal commitments:
To avoid frequent sales problems such as last minute objections and competitive traps. Once you’ve gotten your target to agree in principle that you’re going to make this deal, move them as quickly as possible toward getting it into writing.
Create a sense of urgency:
Sometimes the person on the other end of the deal will be happy to close it – when they can get around to it. Timing may be much more important to you. So if necessary, you want to create a sense of urgency to get their commitment, and that may require some final concessions to refocus their attention.
Use “breaking news”:
Throughout the relationship-building and negotiating process and beyond, be funneling helpful new information to the other party. This might be for example one last success story or testimony from an existing customer that you’re keeping in your back pocket.
Use a “Linking Strategy”:
It enables you to link a requested concession to something you want so that the deal may close. A linkage close may be used in the situation when your prospect has made a final demand and they can’t move any further on the negotiation.
As the deal wouldn’t work due to the lack of incentive, look over the entire deal and assess what you would like to be changed in your favor to bring back the balance of the deal. Once this has been decided, link the issue to the concession the prospect is asking you to make.
Agree to concede on the point in contention if the prospect will meet the demand you had identified to bring back the balance of the deal.
Use your negotiation skills:
Negotiating can be defined as “working with other to achieve some beneficial result.” It is one of those skills that take a few hours to learn and a lifetime to master. It is not a genetic trait we’re born with, like athletic or artistic ability. No matter what education level or social position, you can always develop your negotiation skills. It just takes time, some learning, specific attention to practice those skills, and the humility to accept feedback and coaching.
There are three main parts to negotiation: communication style, personality type, goals. Each of these elements need to be balanced between the two people negotiating before anyone can reach a desirable outcome.
Do you know your personality type? Are you able to understand your counterpart’s personality type and adapt your communication style accordingly? Predictive Index will definitely help you to leverage your personal strengths and optimize your relationships.
Negotiation is not the art of manipulating another person. Negotiation is a type of collaboration, even if you need to convince the other person that it is in their best interest to work together. Manipulation is forcing your goals and opinions on another person.
“It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings”.
The deal is done when the negotiation is over and the client is happy. Whatever the outcome is, use it as a learning opportunity to assess your effectiveness and whether there are any factors you would have done differently given a chance. This is a particularly useful tool as it will improve your process in the future.