5 Closing techniques that work

ABC  Always be closing

One of my favourite films – Glengarry Glen Ross – a tale of the goings on in a real estate office, involved Alec Baldwin giving one of the most impressive sales training lessons ever. He ranted the ABC – always be closing.  Look it up on YouTube, it’s famous.

Maybe slightly 1980’s cheese, but the concept is true today. Closing the sale doesn’t have a great reputation amongst salespeople because we often leave it too late, at the end of the sales process when the pressures on and the heats evident. It’s this fear of rejection or annoying the customer that stops us from doing it.

Maybe Alec Baldwin, or Blake in the movie, had an idea with his ABC. Let me share with you 5 strategies that might help you do the ABC of closing.

Signpost them to a close

Most things in life have a process to follow even shopping at your local supermarket. The first part of the shopping process is parking the car safely before entering the store. But at Sainsbury’s in Cheltenham last Saturday morning, this was a big challenge. A new store had opened opposite so the car park was packed. Sainsbury’s re-deployed some staff members with giant signs to guide customers to where the spaces were.

Clever really because Sainsbury’s were signposting the customer along their sales process. The first part was to park, the second to gather a trolley and so on.

In the same way, when your customer makes contact, put them onto your sales process and guide them along it. Tell them what you are going to do; the benefits – let the conveyor belt do its job and guide them to a close.

A favourite of mine is to encourage the customer to appreciate that at some point you’re going to ask them if they want to go ahead. Alleviate their fears if it helps, by stating that they don’t have to go ahead today, but if they wish, they can do so. This is very non-threatening and a super way of progressing to a close.

Ticks of approval

Alec Baldwin’s mantra – the ABC – always be closing – rings true since waiting until the end of the sales process can conjure up the close as a giant hurdle to cross. Instead break the close down into smaller closes and ask for the “tick of approval” to move onto the next phase of your sales cycle.  Ask your customer for permission to move forward, gain their tick of approval.

Break down your sales process into milestones that need a tick of approval. For example, the first stage might be a meeting to discuss needs. Once the customer has agreed to this, that’s a tick of approval. Early in my sales process is the qualifying stage. I need to secure the MAN – their motivation, their ability and their needs – before I proceed. Once I have these safe, that’s a tick of approval and my process continues.

Break down the sales process into tick points or where the customer needs to take some action or give you some important information towards their purchase.

By nailing your ticks of approval will gradually move the customer to the natural conclusion, the close, with little or no fuss.

Testing trials

Test and trial closing go back to my first days in sales in the early 1980’s and didn’t have a good name then. But the concept is sound; after all, asking for the business suddenly without warning can be dangerous to your health. And the customer’s too.

There’s not a better day out than spending it at the seaside. The sand, the sunshine and the sea. The 3 S’s. But here in the UK, even on a warm summer’s day, the sea can be terrifyingly cold.  The secret is to gradually immerse yourself in the waves, an inch at a time until your entire body is submerged and you can dive into the depths.

Some people prefer to just run into the waves and dive straight it. After an initial shock and awe, they emerge victorious but it does look terrifying from my position, I’d prefer to gradually immerse myself. I also think most customers would prefer that we gradually close them rather than all at once.

Test closes are a neat way to slowly immerse yourself in the cold sea. “How does that sound?” “Would that be useful?” “What do you think so far?”

Watch for their reaction, any reservations at this early stage can swiftly be ironed out. Likewise if the sea is really cold, you can easily withdraw to the sanctuary of the towel.

Trial closes are just a little bit more to the point and make a suggestion to the customer of moving forward. “If we were in a position to move forward, would that be a good next step?” “If I can get the paperwork moving on this, would you be in a position to move forward?”

Finally ask for their commitment but do it in a questions format:

“We’re in agreement aren’t we, so what’s your next step?” “Any more questions or are you ready to go ahead?” “How can we make this happen?” “We could get the ball rolling in August…what would you like me to do?”

Using convincer triples

Did you know that during the night-time, we actually lose weight? Also during the working day, we shrink, only by millimetres admittedly and the weight loss is only grams. And the last one is amazing; no one person’s hands are identical in size.

All good things come in triples; after all I am the middle child! Triples are a way of giving information or persuading people, in packets of three. Three is a magic number so use triples when closing or gaining some form of commitment.

Information delivered in threes has a hypnotic effect and ensures acceptance.

Deliver two agreed phrases before you ask for the business. Two convincers. For example. “This all looks ideal doesn’t it and the investment is well within your budget, so do you think we ought to go ahead.”

“The paperwork is all done, you’ve chosen your preferred hard-wood, it’s all within budget, so let’s move forward shall we?”

Convincer, convincer, close.

Known as the 3 part convincer in NLP circles, I call it smooth closing and by the way, everyone’s hands are identical in size.

Pose as the expert

Take control, after all, you are the expert aren’t you. Simply suggest that we move forward and you could combine this with a yes tag if you want to be really eloquent.

“It’s all fitting together isn’t it, so I recommend we crack on, shall we?”

“This really suits you doesn’t it, I’m thinking we ought to get cracking now”

Maybe Alec was right – ABC – always be closing – although the phrase does have a 1980’s ring to it, not applicable to today’s in control customer. The secret is to subtly always be closing, making it smooth almost unnoticed, so we can close more business with customers who have a genuine need for our services and products.