The Psychology of the Sales Cycle – Closing

I remember when I was young and single I would
go out with friends and see pretty girls, but rarely had the gumption to go up
and talk to them. The reason was fear of rejection. Nobody likes that feeling
so we do what we can to avoid that possible self-inflicted wound.

In the same way I was afraid to talk to a
pretty girl, salespeople are reluctant to ask for the sale for fear of
rejection. It’s safer for the ego to let the prospect “think it over and get
back to you.” In their uncertainty, prospects do one of two things: 1) take the
safe route and don’t change anything, or 2) go with the salesperson who fearlessly
asked them if they could start on the paperwork.
The number one question salespeople ask during
The Principles of Persuasion Workshop® is, “What’s the best way to close?” My standard response is, “The
best way to close starts the moment you meet prospects for the first time, look
them in the eye and shake their hand.” From that point forward how easy or
difficult closing is depends on what you do. I believe closing the sale should
just be a natural part of the ongoing conversation with a prospect. The best
compliment a salesperson can hear from a client is, “I never felt like I was
being sold.”
Early on in this series I quoted Jeffrey
Gitomer, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their
friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do business with
their friends.” Tapping into liking early and often will make a big difference
by the time you ask for the business. Always start your contact with a prospect
on a social level bonding over things you have in common and looking for
opportunities to offer genuine compliments.
The more you’ve done for the prospect and the
more you’ve gone out of your way on their behalf, the more likely they are to
look for some way to give back to you. If you’re unable to close the deal for
some reason you might still leverage all you’ve done as a way to get some
referrals because of reciprocity.
People want to know they’re doing business
with an expert because it gives them more confidence in their decision. As you
make your way through the sales process, show yourself to be professional and
someone your prospects can rely on for answers when they need them. In short, tap
into authority.
I believe consistency is the most important
principle to tap into during the closing. Reminding people of what they said is
a powerful motivator of behavior! This is where the upfront close comes in
handy early in the sales cycle. At some point during the initial meeting or
qualification stage you need to find out exactly what it will take for you to
earn the right to do business with the prospect. If you know you can’t meet
their requirements, cut your losses and move on. But, if you believe you can
meet the requirements you might want to say something like this:
“Shirley, from what you’ve shared it sounds
like if we can meet your specifications at the agreed upon price by the
delivery date you mentioned, we’ll be doing business, correct?”
You want the prospect to come back with:
“Correct. Meet those specs at that price by
the delivery date we discussed and you have a deal.”
This is also the time to confirm there are no
other hidden reasons that might crop up to kill the deal:
“Just to be very clear Shirley, are there any
other reasons I’m unaware of that could get in the way of us doing business?”
Again, you want her to confirm what you’re
asking. When it comes time to close you only need to refer back to what you’ve
already agreed on:
“Shirley, great news. We can meet the specs at
the price we discussed and can even deliver a little earlier than you
requested. Can we go ahead and start the paperwork so we can get everything in
It would be very hard for Shirley to come back
and say no at this point after you’ve done everything she asked for. Will there
be times when someone backs out? Sure. But, using consistency in an approach
like this will have more people saying yes and will make it much easier and
natural for you to seal the deal.
Last, but not least, is scarcity. Pointing out
what someone might save or gain by going with your proposal will not be as
persuasive as honestly sharing what they stand to lose by not taking the step
you recommend. For example, if you are in financial services, talking about how
much more someone might be able to save for retirement by setting aside an
extra percent of their income will not be as motivating as sharing what they
will lose if they don’t save a little extra.
Ineffective – “Ed, if we can find a way to set
aside just 1% more you’re going to have more than $100,000 extra in the bank by
the time you retire.”
Effective – “Ed, if we can’t find a way to set
aside just 1% more you’re going to lose out on more than $100,000 by the time
you retire.”
Hopefully these examples of weaving the
principles of influence into the sales process will take some of the fear out
of closing. There’s one more post in this series – asking for referrals. Next
week we’ll look at ways to make that happen as naturally as the close, by
effectively working the principles of influence into your sales cycle.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


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