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5 Principles for Closing a Deal
Small business owners have little room for error when transacting. Every sale is crucial, and there are innumerable ways to stumble before or at the finish line. The prospect of “closing” is enough to cause serious anxiety for many. But one need not be a sales natural or even overly comfortable with making deals to perform a successful close. The following five guidelines can help even the most squeamish negotiator navigate a transaction and seal the deal.
Listen- Focusing exclusively on a sales pitch at the expense of information provided by a customer is a death sentence for any deal. Actively listening to customers reveals their latent desires and hang-ups, and determines what adjustments need to be made to progress with a deal.
One customer may verbally express his/her interest in the product or service being sold but suggest price-related reservations through body language. Another may unwittingly drop hints that he/she is concerned with the social stigma attached to a potential purchase. In the former case, the salesperson should bring the price down as much as possible or at least couch the transaction in terms of value. The latter situation dictates to the seller a need to find ways of presenting the potential purpose as a status-booster.
Listening attentively to the customer provides clues for revising a sales pitch on the fly to make it more organic, and is a must if a salesperson wants to reach the finish line.
Stay Confident, No Matter How Drawn Out A Deal Becomes- Some customers are adept at drawing out deals to fatigue salespeople. Others inadvertently create protracted negotiations by voicing concerns at every turn. In either case, remaining confident is crucial for the seller. A salesperson’s becoming flustered can make a customer feel devalued or “pushed.” Likewise, by acting nervous, a seller creates an air of vulnerability that allows the customer to dictate the deal on his/her own terms. Constant confidence allows the seller to avoid these pitfalls and keep a deal on course in the face of adversity.
Bring Up Competition- Though some may see the practice as disingenuous, a salesperson’s suggesting to a customer that he/she will do business with someone else if they decline an offering is both truthful and effective. It creates a zero-sum scenario where one customer’s loss is another’s gain, and suggests that the deal is a “now or never” opportunity.
Let the Customer Speak- This may seem like an obvious extension of the “listen” principle, but it merits its own heading. After each element of a presentation, the salesperson should pause and allow the customer time to speak. Turning the floor over to the customer allows him/her to reason through a purchase decision and vocalize all pertinent doubts. Drowning out a customer with incessant talking can make him/her feel exclusively like a target in addition to eliminating the chance to gather necessary cues.
Don’t Place Primary Focus On The Close- Though beginning with the end in mind is both laudable and necessary, a salesperson dooms a potential transaction by obviously and continuously steering a customer toward the close. A seller must always create a rapport–an act made impossible if the customer is made to feel like the object of a pitch rather than a valuable co-equal. For this reason, “relationship building” is increasingly being added to lists of best sales practices. Having an open dialogue is far more likely to produce a sale than a unilateral bombarding.
Few have a natural aptitude for sales. The process is terrifying to many who feel they must go against type to close a deal. The above tools can guide even the most timid small business owner through a deal without forcing him/her to adopt a faÃ§ade or become uncomfortable.
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