According to a Salesforce study, out of every 100 leads a company generates, 13 are qualified as opportunities. And out of every 100 opportunities, 6 converts into deals. So if you do the math, businesses close fewer than 1 deal for every 100 leads they generate. Now, as the general wisdom goes, the more leads you generate, the more deals you close, and that’s true. If 100 leads get you 1 deal, 200 should get you at least 2. That’s the reason businesses spend enormous amounts of time and resources on lead generation.
But here’s another way to look at it – if the ultimate goal is to win more deals, it can be achieved more effectively by improving the sales closing rate. Statistically, winning 2 deals for every 100 leads, i.e, improving the win rate by just 1% would yield the same result as doubling your number of leads!
Let that sink in for a moment.
Now there are many reasons for lost opportunities ranging from budget constraints to product fit to disengaged prospects, and you can’t possibly fix them all. No business can. But that’s the whole point – you don’t have to! Pushing that win rate from 1% to 2% can be easily achieved by doing the basics right and using good sales closing techniques.
Here’s a roadmap you can use:
A typical sales process can be segmented into 3 stages, each of which relies on distinct techniques for success and pose unique risks for failure:
This is the first stage of the sales process where sales reps research and identify the right accounts and people to target. The quality of prospecting is directly correlated to the quality of leads and subsequent pipeline.
If done right – Generates high-quality leads.
If done wrong – Waste of time & resources and lack of pipeline.
This is purely a data-driven stage where if you have the right set of data, you will successfully connect with the ideal prospects, and if not, you have fewer conversations and by extension, opportunities.
If done right – High conversion rates & creates opportunities.
If done wrong – Loss of opportunities.
Finally, after talking to the prospect for a while, it’s time to close. Depending on the typical sales cycle in your industry, the right time to close might be anywhere from a week to over a year from the first touch.
If done right – Generates revenue.
If done wrong – All the time, effort, and resources leading up to it are wasted.
As you might expect, while all sales stages are important, closing comes with the highest rewards and risks. You can either generate revenue or waste weeks or months and efforts that went into prospecting, nurturing, and outreach.
Selling to People, By People
Before we discuss any specific sales closing techniques, you need to understand one key overarching principle. The term ‘B2B’ implies that one business deals with another, and there is no scope for personal preferences and motivations. That is simply not the case. Yes, the company pays for the product, but the contract is signed by a person. Whether they are purchasing a personal car or a CRM for their company, their mind effectively works the same – subject to the same cognitive biases and thought processes that you can work with.
Every time you talk to a prospect, don’t treat them as an account but as a person. Study after study has shown that personal rapport and psychology play an instrumental role in business dealings, so make sure the conversations are always between two people and not two companies.
As a word of caution, since each of these techniques ties into human psychology and cognitive biases in one way or another, they aren’t equally effective for all people and offer varying degrees of rewards and risks in different situations. While we’ll offer a few pointers on where to best use and where to avoid each of those techniques, accurate reading of the situation to gain the maximum leverage is ultimately your job. That said, let’s get started.
The Takeaway Close
This is an application of reverse psychology where you ask your prospects to not buy your product for them to realize its value. A milder version includes taking away any discount or perks that you had been offering to create some sense of urgency.
Why it works – Continued engagement from the prospect shows certain interest, but failure to commit indicates some kind of a blocker. They might be evaluating some other solutions, having a tough time convincing their decision-makers, or simply aren’t sure themselves.
Where to use – When you have followed up with prospects at least 4-5 times, and they continue to ask for another week or month.
Where to avoid – When you aren’t ready to walk away from the conversation as there is always a chance that prospects will not budge.
The Columbo Close
“Just one more thing” can be a powerful sales pitch if used properly. When the prospect doesn’t seem interested after your presentation, it’s a great idea to just pause and tell them about that stand-out feature or offer.
Why it works – Because it’s exciting. Saving the best for the last is more stimulating and ensures it isn’t lost in the general presentation.
Where to use – On your first meeting.
Where to avoid – In settings where you might not have the full attention of your prospects like event booths.
The Summary Close
Many times, sales presentations can get lengthy and confusing, particularly when the solution touches upon different departments and levels. So after you are done with the presentation, it is worthwhile to summarize all key pointers.
Why it works – Too much information can be paralyzing while smaller chunks are more easily processed.
Where to use – When you have numerous decision-makers in the meeting.
Where to avoid – When the presentation is relatively simple.
The Assumptive Close
Instead of asking prospects whether they are interested, assume they already are. This creates an environment where the decision has already been made, and only the formalities remain. For example, after your presentation, don’t ask if they are willing to make the purchase, but something like ‘would you be signing the contract or someone else needs to be looped in?’
Why it works – Making decisions is tough, and subconsciously people like not having to make another choice.
Where to use – Applicable across almost every situation.
Where to avoid – When dealing with enterprises due to their lengthy purchasing cycle.
The Now-or-Never Close
Now, this is a classic sales closing technique that every salesperson must have used on various occasions. The process is simple- create a sense of urgency by offering an incentive for a limited time.
Why it works – people don’t like missing out on things, especially when they think they are getting a good deal.
Where to use – When the prospect is genuinely interested but is hesitant to commit.
Where to avoid – When you aren’t sure about the prospect’s intent.
The Backward Close
This is actually a tricky closing technique to master because it’s based on the premise of ‘not selling.’ In this technique, when you first get in touch with prospects, you don’t start with the usual sales pitch. You run the process in reverse. For instance, start by asking for a referral, then get into their challenges, and then finally pitch your product as a solution.
Why it works – Because it puts customers at ease as there is no sales pitch, to begin with.
Where to use – On the first touchpoint.
Where to avoid – Where prospects are disengaged as they might give a referral and move on.
The Puppy Dog Close
If you take a puppy home, there is a good chance that you won’t be bringing it back. How could you say ‘no’ to that face? This technique uses the same method and is probably the most widely used sales closing technique where salespeople offer free trials or a test drive to customers knowing full well that they’ll buy if they like it.
Why it works – Simple, it eliminates any risks for buyers, and once they like it, they don’t want to let go.
Where to use – In the initial stages of conversations.
Where to avoid – When you aren’t sure if your solution would be a good fit.
This is kind of a deviation from the Now-or-Never technique with a major twist. Most of the time customers ask for some special concessions in the form of payments, extra features, support, etc. In this technique, rather than negotiating for those concessions, salespeople agree straightway with one condition – we will deliver those concessions, but you have to sign the deal now.
Why this works – It puts customers in a spot as they don’t have a strong reason to decline the offer since they are getting everything they wanted.
Where to use – In fast-paced environments like events.
Where to avoid – When you haven’t detected any strong buying intent.
The Alternative Close
This works best when paired with the assumptive close and advocates giving customers fewer alternatives to boost closing rates. For instance, instead of asking which plan they would like to purchase, give them 2-3 alternatives at max. So say something like ‘Do you want the monthly or the annual plan? ’
Why it works – Customers are less confused and can make the decision quickly.
Where to use – In the last stage.
Where to avoid – When the product fit hasn’t yet been proved.
Something for Nothing Close
This can be considered a last-ditch effort that can help win you a deal. When things aren’t going your way, you can offer something ‘extra’ to keep their interest. Now the key to succeeding with this technique lies in what exactly you offer. You don’t have to offer something (like discounts) that would degrade the value of the deal for you. Instead, pick something more valuable for them than for you.
Why it works – Customers feel they are getting a good deal and special treatment.
Where to use – When the initial conversation isn’t generating much traction or there are price-related objections.
Where to avoid – When the objections are about product fit and usability.
Now, if you properly assess which technique would yield the best results in any situation, increasing your sales closing rate won’t be a problem.
If you are struggling at any prior stage like prospecting or outreach, check out SalesIntel’s data to help you identify the right accounts and decision-makers, have more conversations, and build more pipelines.
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