How the Pros Close Sales

You may have a silver tongue that delivers a silky smooth sales pitch. You could have all the latest technology at your disposal. You could also have an endless stream of referrals. But those things don’t mean squat if you can’t close your sales.

After all, you don’t get paid unless they say yes and sign the line.

But improving your closing skills does not only mean learning a few more sales closing tips. Closing is a process that often begins before your first contact with a prospect. At least, that’s how professionals view it.

And that’s the focus of this report – how the pros close sales. As you will read, it’s an all-compassing artform – beginning with fine tuning yourself, understanding how people make decisions, special tactics that increase your chases of closing a sale, and what you need to do after you close a sale.

So let’s dive right into it, beginning with becoming a more persuasive person.

Three Characteristics of Highly Persuasive People

Sometimes a product is so damn good is sells itself.

But sometimes isn’t all the time. And probably more than sometimes, you feel stuck selling what may be a good product, but one that doesn’t compel the money out of a prospect’s wallet.

That puts the onus on you, business owner, sales agent, consultant. Whatever your title, the role is about the same – persuading a prospect to buy.

These three tips do not focus on how you can sell a particular product. Rather, they are about how to be a more persuasive person in general. The ultimate effect of being more persuasive is the ability to sell any product or service.

These three skills and characteristics are nearly uniform in people who can effectively influence the thinking of others.

Highly Persuasive People are Effective Communicators

How you communicate your message makes a huge difference in whether people choose to agree with it. It’s a rare skill to truly convey your message to all kinds of people (gender, race, color, religion, age) in a way that they each uniquely understand it.

Doing so requires you to do any of the following (and some simultaneously): simply a complex concept or product, provide examples and metaphors that they understand, and accent your message with inviting nonverbal cues and communication.

Speaking effectively, as you know, is only one component to communicating effectively. Listening is just as important, if not more important.

I’m talking about really listening – listening with your complete attention, listening with your eyes, listening with your body language.

Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk. And of course, listening is not interrupting a prospect in mid sentence.

Highly Persuasive People are Honest and Have a Reputation for Integrity

A person’s reputation will persuade others’ opinions in a positive way without ever there being a meeting between the two. If that wasn’t true, then Angie’s List wouldn’t be in business.

There is a direct correlation in your ability to persuade people and your reputation for being honest, professional and ethical.

Sure, somebody can sell products by spewing complete fabrications, but that’s doesn’t make them persuasive. They may have convinced somebody to buy, but the story usually ends with a client’s trust betrayed.

And when a client’s trust is betrayed, they go to Angie’s List and rat the dishonest creep out.

Highly Persuasive People Have a Balanced Appearance

How you present yourself and the surroundings you work in creates an experience that very much impacts the decision of a prospect.

Perhaps, it’s more true to say that looking good isn’t positively persuasive as much as appearing unkempt is negatively persuasive.

So look like a professional. Act like a professional. Keep your office looking professional. Train your staff to act professional. Every day.

What Causes Prospects to Say Yes

Now that you know how to transform yourself into a persuasive agent, it’s time to dig into the minds of prospects. And there’s nobody better to take us there than Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is considered one of the top persuasion experts on the planet.

He’s so well known that in 2008, then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama tapped Dr. Cialdini’s brain to get millions of people to say, “Yes, we can.” During a recent interview, Dr. Cialdini reveals how you can get your clients and prospects to do the same – to say “Yes.”

Cialdini says from the outset of the interview: “Before you deliver the strongest argument in favor of your (product), you mention a weakness. You mention a drawback.” But why? What does that do to that do to the psyche of the consumer? How would that increase their chances of saying yes?

According to Dr. Cialdini, doing that establishes you as knowledgeable and trustworthy. It tells a consumer that you are willing to talk about the negatives, which indicates that you will engage them realistically, honestly and ethically. It gives them a reason to trust you and like you.

Simply put, people say yes to people they like.

Now, Cialdini doesn’t mean that you begin a prospect meeting by reading a list of drawbacks to your products. He merely suggests that you state one drawback immediately before delivering your product’s greatest strength. Nothing more, nothing less.

Dr. Cialdini makes one more suggestion to get prospects to say yes. Often, sales agents build their selling points around what a prospect will gain from their product. While it has proven effective and important, it’s also an antiquated and mainstream method.

It’s such a widespread technique that millions of people who aren’t in the sales business use it to sell used lawnmowers and old furniture on Craig’s List. That’s a clear sign that it’s time to move past Sales 101.

Instead of just highlighting a product’s benefits, Dr. Cialdini suggests that you also show prospects what they would lose if they didn’t buy your product. Keep this in mind when selling insurance packages or financial advice. Learning what a prospect wants will help you show them what they will lose if they don’t buy your product.

Make them recognize what they are about to lose by walking out empty handed.

What Causes Prospects to Say No

This section begins with a disclaimer. Often people say no for the simple reason that they don’t like the product or service. And sometimes things like that are out of your control.

Picture yourself in a prospect’s shoes. Think about how you make decisions with your money. Every time you read a menu and choose one item, you are in effect saying no to every other item on it. It’s not always that the menu did a poor job selling veal piccata. You just didn’t want it that night.

So, that said, these are reasons why prospects say no to you. These are the times where you have what they want, but they don’t want to buy it from you.

The sale was yours. And you lost it. Here are three reasons why…

You Told Them What They Wanted.

The biggest mistakes you can make are assuming you know what they want and telling them what you think they want. Thing is, you could be right every time with every prospect. But that doesn’t matter.

Even if your hunches are right, the customer has to be the one that says what they need. Otherwise, you can come across as a know-at-all who is “dealing” to just another prospect. By letting their concerns drive the meeting, the prospect cannot walk out thinking you failed to address their needs.

People will recognize that you listened to what they want and took that into consideration when asking for the sale. Which leads to the next point…

You Didn’t Ask Them for the Sale.

You probably have a few different ways of asking where a prospect is in their decision making process. While there is certainly a useful purpose in doing so, you also run the risk of allowing a prospect to settle in and justify their indecisiveness.

In some cases – and under the right conditions – asking outright for the sale works for people who are just waiting to be asked. But I can’t overstate that you have to employ this tactic carefully and tactfully.

A good time to employ this tactic is when there isn’t anything left to say. You listened to their concerns. You’d made your pitch.

At that point, it’s not really worth rehashing everything over again when it doesn’t advance the conversation to its natural conclusion. Besides, you wouldn’t be speaking with them in the first place if they weren’t interested in buying from you, right?

You Didn’t Put a Value on the Product or Service.

Again, picture yourself a consumer. How many times did you pass on buying something after just seeing the price? If this is the first piece of product information you are giving prospects, of course some are going to walk out on the sale.

Here’s a better way to go about it.

Quantify in a dollar amount what their problems are costing them. Present how your product and service will solve their problems. Then quantify in a dollar amount the value of their problems being solved.

So when it comes time to introduce the cost, to them the problem is more to the effect of, “Man, is this price too good to be true?”

Five Closing Techniques Only the Pros Know

Now you’ve been prepped on the prospect’s psyche, here are five secrets to closing sales that can give a big bump to your bottom line. Some of these can even be used simultaneously.

Closing Technique #1: The Choice Close

When you close, are you asking a yes and no question? A question such as, “Would you like to buy this insurance plan?”

There’s a better question to ask. Instead of a yes and no question or a question that asks “if,” go with a question that asks “which.” For example, “Which of these life insurance plans do you like best?”

The difference is huge. By asking which, you are acknowledging your prospect’s desire to have a choice. More importantly, whichever one the prospect chooses is a win for you.

Closing Technique #2: The Keep on the Sunny Side Close

Most often, the contents of an insurance package are complex and wordy. Because of that, a lot of good selling points are often buried underneath the pressure of a prospect to understand it all.

So pull those points back out and put them right under their eyes.  Some will respond to an offer better when its positive points are clearly laid out for them. Don’t just say them. Present them in a PowerPoint or in a brochure handout for them.

Keep the points short in bullet form and be prepared to explain why each bullet is a positive and how it will impact them.

Closing Technique #3: The Frank Close

This one is similar to the sales secret above, except it tips its caps to Dr. Cialdini and acknowledges a few cons. So, ask yourself, what are some of the downsides to the insurance plan a prospect is considering? And why should you acknowledge these downsides to this.

For one, a prospect is well aware you are trying to sell him or her something. So by nature, they know you will try to make whatever you sell sound really important while perhaps glossing over features that might raise a few flags for them. By acknowledging this, it shows you are honest – with them and yourself.

And second, it shows you are looking out for a client or prospect’s best interests. During a typical prospect meeting, it’s likely (and highly recommended) that you’ll learn a few things about them. You’ll learn their financial hopes and personal dreams for their retirement and their family’s well being. How your product affects those plans is important to them, and it shows you are considering their best interests as you work with them.

If you choose to implement this sales secret, you MUST list more pros than cons. Also, and you CANNOT end a meeting on a discussion of a con. If you discuss a con, counter that with equal or more time spent talking about a pro.

Closing Technique #4: The Testimonial Close

Third-party endorsements and testimonials add more credibility and proof to your presentation. They give “proof” in layperson’s terms.

That’s why testimonials sometimes more effective than stacks of research that basically say the same thing.

A testimonial is as much proof as it is an assurance from a neutral party that says that a product has passed their high standards of quality. It also lays out in no uncertain terms that the person is satisfied with the product and their decision to buy it.

Closing Technique #5: The Ask and You Shall Receive Close

You’d be amazed what you can get if you just ask for it.

In some cases – and under the right conditions – asking for the sale works for people who are just waiting to be asked. But this technique must be employed carefully and tactfully.

Four Things You Need to Do After Completing a Sale

Just closed a sale? Congratulations! Now the real work begins.

Now you have to figure out how to keep your client list growing and your leads flowing. Now you have to make sure these new clients stay on board. Now you have to make sure you have enough time in the day to do all this on top of your normal workload.

But all this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Here are four things you need to do after completing a sale and why they work.

Reflect on How You Made Your Recent Sale

Prospects say yes for different reasons, but those reasons may have common roots. Identifying why prospects say yes will save you a lot of work down the road.

Why this works: It can streamline your sales pitch(es). It cuts to the core of what drives prospects to say “yes.” Knowing that allows you to ditch your pitch’s filler and set your crosshairs on common prospect needs.

Follow Up with Your New Clients

A new client should receive a follow up from you in no more than a week. The purpose isn’t to upsell them to something else, but to transform them from a “client” to a “customer.”

The difference between the two is that the word “client” implies a professional-only relationship while “customer” implies loyalty and personal choice on their part.

Being tactful is the key to following up. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t try to sell anything else. Just let them know you appreciate their business and look forward to serving their needs.

Within a couple weeks, call the client. Make sure he or she is satisfied. Ask if they have any questions or comments. Again, make it brief. They aren’t expecting a call or may be in the middle of something. Have a semi-scripted message ready in case you can’t reach them and have to leave a message.

Why this works: Following up gently keeps you on your clients and prospects radar. It can be burdensome, but remember that it’s easier – and more profitable – to keep a client that trying to find a new one.

Focus on the Second Sale

This does not mean to start selling another product to a new client. That’s one of the best ways to lose clients. The second sale refers to the next thing you will sell a client down the road. Often that’s what’s meant by “second sale,” but there’s something else – referrals from the client.

Focusing on the second sale gives you a grander, long-term focus. Make sure your clients’ experience is so good that they will buy from you again and tell their friends about you.

Why this works: People are more likely to buy upon the recommendation of someone they trust. These are the referrals sales agents want the most. Get them by giving each new client something to talk about.

Rebudget Your Time to Accommodate a Bigger Client List

It’s a no brainer that bringing on more clients means more work. Yet, too many insurance agents don’t adjust their work day to accommodate the work required to handle a bigger client list. It’s magical thinking at its best.

Realize, though, that not all clients are the same. Some clients are low-maintenance. They send in their payments early. They don’t call you with questions. You know what to expect from them. Some have been with you for so long, you know if they are reached better by phone or e-mail, or during mornings or afternoons.

Others aren’t so easy to accommodate. You probably can list by name and address three clients that make you earn your money.

That’s why instead of dedicating the same amount of time to each client, you should budget more time to clients that require it and less that don’t.

Why this works: Time equals money. You wouldn’t want to waste money. Every person on Earth only has 24 hours to spend in one day. Wasting it means you are creating more work for yourself.