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When to Close

Category: Sales Skills  |  Permalink

Published: Monday, October 29, 2007

"My sellers have trouble closing!"

Being a good closer is considered an important skill for salespeople. I often have sales executives tell me their people are not "good closers." In my experience the best salespeople often get orders without having to close, but that's a subject for another blog. Let's define closing as asking for an order and take a closer look at when closing is done.

Buyers have come to despise early trial closes. Salespeople asking: "Do you like the silver or black car better?" irritate me. Studies have shown that in small transactions trial closes are helpful, but they have a negative effect on buyers making larger purchases.

Closing early pressures buyers. Those who prefer buying vs. "being sold" find early closes manipulative. Before being able to make B2B buying decisions, decision makers should know:

  • The needs of their department or organization
  • How well a vendor's offering addresses those needs
  • The potential benefit/value of the offering
  • How the vendor's offering and pricing compares to competitors
  • What resources are needed to implement the offering
  • How budget can be allocated to the purchase
  • The terms and conditions of doing business with the vendor

If you agree with this list, closing before these questions have been addressed is premature. Some sellers close prematurely by choice. Others may be told to do so if month, quarter, or year-end revenues are below forecast. The best result of such closing is that the seller gets the order, but has to discount to incent buyers to buy before they were ready. The worst outcome is that buyers feel pressured and opportunities are lost.

A large part of successful closing is knowing when buyers have what is needed to make decisions. I welcome your thoughts and ask your provide feedback on:

  • How do you know a buyer is ready to buy?
  • What negative consequences have resulted from premature closing?
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