In the classic sales movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”, Alec Baldwin’s character berates the sales team and shouts caustically, “Always Be Closing”! There is an element of truth to this of course. Some salespeople get signals from the customer they are ready to buy, and keep talking. Eventually, something comes out of the salesperson’s mouth which causes the customer to reconsider, and the sale is lost. But in most business-to-business phone sales situations, the right time to close is when you have completed the sales cycle you established with the customer.
The close itself is simply a close-ended question. It is also a question which – if answered affirmatively – means the sale is done. A close is not a question like “how does that sound to you?” or “have I answered all your questions?” Your product or service may sound good to the customer, and they may not have any further questions, but a “yes” to either of these or something similar does not mean the sale is done. These questions are trial closes. Perfect for taking the buyer’s temperature, but not for closing the sale.
So, what is your favorite close? Perhaps somewhat brazen. “Which purchase order number would you like to use?” “When will you be picking up this order?” Or distinctly less confrontational. “May I set up this order for you?” “Is there any reason we shouldn’t move forward?” Pick a closed-ended question you are comfortable with which, when answered positively, means you move right to the order entry screen.
Before the close should come the business proposal which includes the timeline, the product or service, and the investment. For example, “I recommend you purchase the XYZ Striker package as we discussed. I can have it delivered by next Friday before close-of-business, and your investment will be $ 1,502 plus the applicable sales tax.” After all, you’ve built a relationship through your needs analysis and presentation, your recommendation means something to the customer. The business proposal also clarifies exactly what they are buying, among all the alternatives you may have discussed.
Finally, what do you close? Of course, the money call, where you ask for the sale. But you should be closing something on every call. Each call in the sales cycle, except for the last one where you ask for money, you are asking for the customer’s time. Time to gather information maybe, or to read a brochure, or to look at your website. Close the customer on the gift of their time. For example, “As we agreed, a good next step is for me to email you information on the XYZ Striker package. It will take you about 10 minutes or so to look over. As we discussed, I’ll call you on Tuesday morning at 10:00 to review the information, and answer any questions you may have. May I set this up for you?” This close allows you to open the call on Tuesday morning by saying, “You asked me to give you a call today to discuss the information I emailed you on the Striker package. What did you think?”
Alec was right. Always be closing. Closing something on each call.