Our internal research shows that top-achieving salespeople spend only 17 percent of their selling time trying to close the sale. Top-achieving salespeople spend less time in this phase of the sales call than the call opening. That means top salespeople spend more than 80 percent of their time asking the right questions, understanding customer needs, and presenting their ideas.
Closing the sale is more about timing than style. The right timing is more important than an elaborate close. Closing a sale is simply asking the customer two basic questions: “What do you think?” and “Would you like to buy?”
How do you know when to ask for the sale? When the customer tells you they are ready to buy. They will give you clues – buying signals. Here are some buying signals that indicate the customer is ready to move forward.
CUSTOMER REPEATS A BENEFIT STATEMENT
If the customer repeats a benefit statement, they want you to validate the information. The customer is also letting you know that this particular benefit is important to them. When the customer gives you this signal, begin moving toward the close. Validate the information they mentioned, finish the presentation, and ask for the business.
CUSTOMER ASKS FOR THE PRICE
Ironically, some salespeople will confuse this request as a price objection. Salespeople mislabel these customers as price shoppers when, in fact, the customer is telling you they are interested in making a purchase. If the customer gives you this signal, begin moving toward the close. But before you ask for the business, ask the customer to validate the value of your solution: “Does our solution meet your needs?” or “Are we on the right track?”
CUSTOMER SAYS YES
This is the most obvious buying signal, but some salespeople talk past the sale. When the customer directly says yes, it is important to move the sale forward quickly. There is no need to continue convincing the customer; they already said yes. If the customer gives you this signal, establish the next steps and get out of there. If they need to sign something, have it ready. If they need a credit application, have it ready. If they need to select a start date, have the dates ready. Be prepared for the customer to say yes.
CUSTOMER ASKS FOR PROOF OR EXAMPLES
If the customer asks you for a testimonial or case study, they want proof. The customer is interested, but they want to vet you and your solution. Some salespeople view this as an objection or believe the customer is too suspicious. The customer is simply doing their due diligence. Why would they take the time to vet an option they weren’t seriously considering? At this point, you’re working out the details.
CUSTOMER ASKS LOGISTICAL QUESTIONS
If a customer starts asking for delivery details and lead times, they want to buy. These questions focus on post-sale activities. The buyer has mentally passed the transactional phase and is mentally accepting delivery and preparing for installation or implementation. If the buyer wasn’t sold on your solution, would they ask questions about delivery or lead times?
CUSTOMER ASKS TECHNICAL QUESTIONS
When customers focus on technical questions, they are interested. Technical questions focus on the details. Buyers don’t care about details until they are sold on the broader concept of your value-added solution. At this point, it is a matter of working out the details. When the customer starts asking technical questions, provide them with the information and ask for the business.
When the customer continually nods their head up and down, they are non-verbally saying, “Yes, I would like to buy.” This is the classic non-verbal buying signal. If you have good eye contact and are listening to the customer, you will easily recognize this signal. When buyers move closer to the seller, they are interested. When buyers stroke their chin and hold your product, they are interested. When the customer gives you these signs, start moving toward the close. Finish presenting your solution and ask for the business.
In value-added selling, it’s critical to understand these buying signals. Salespeople should recognize these buying signals and respond appropriately. To improve your awareness of buying signals, conduct a signal review after each call. In this review, ask yourself, “What signals were present?” This review will help you become more aware and sharpen your listening skills. Remember, customers will tell you when they are ready to buy. You just have to watch and listen.
Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training, a St. Louis-based, privately owned company that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers, and service professionals. Reilly Sales Training offers public seminars, in-house sales training programs, and hiring and training assessments. For additional information on training programs, call or email Paul at 636.778.0175 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit reillysalestraining.com and sign up for his free newsletter.