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Closing a deal involves more than getting a prospect excited about your product. A closing call is arguably the most critical part of the sales funnel, even if it occurs long after first contact has been established. Although some closers are more effective than others, there’s no great secret behind a successful sales call. Need some pointers to improve your technique? Read on for the eight essential steps you should be following when closing a sale over the phone.
Introductions are important. Before you start getting stuck into the specifics of your sales call, make sure you take the time to introduce everyone who might be involved with the call. Make sure everyone introduces themselves by name, along with their title and how they will be involved with the product. If individuals have a specific agenda prepared for the call, make sure these are briefly touched upon. Whether you embrace formality or opt for a more casual approach is up to you. What is crucial, however, is that you don’t waste too much time on small talk.
If you’ve decided to start a sales call with a bit of casual conversation, keep an eye on the time. Generally speaking, it only takes a couple of minutes of light-hearted discussion to get the ball rolling. Once everyone has introduced themselves and rapport has been established, you can steer the conversation toward more important matters.
During these first few minutes, you need to establish common ground with potential clients or customers. If you’ve previously worked with a company occupying the same sector, touch upon this as a successful case study. Pretty much any intersection of interests is up for discussion. Just remember to keep it brief so a sales call doesn’t veer off into a rambling anecdote.
Starting strong with a leading question is the way to go. Some salespeople may be uncomfortable being assertive at the first hurdle, but you need to lay your cards on the table as quickly as possible. Everyone on the line understands you’re there to discuss business, so being upfront isn’t going to be frowned upon.
You’ve likely prepared a roadmap for a closing call ahead of time. However, there will be situations where you’ll have to veer off track. If you ask a customer if they’re prepared to proceed and they have reservations, you’ll need to change tack. If you’re met with uncertainty, focus on the inherent value of your products or services.
The short answer is yes. Although this agenda won’t come into play until later on in the call, you’ll need to fall back on it if a customer is ready to proceed and close a deal. When this point arrives, you can refer to your agenda. This typically includes providing customers with the chance to ask any last-minute questions. You’ll likely need to explain the finer points of the closing process. Finally, you’ll need to discuss the onboarding process and timelines.
If you sense that a would-be customer is reluctant and they’re unlikely to be swayed to close a deal, it’s best to put things on hold. They may be ready to commit in the future, but there’s no point wasting precious time in the present.
If a customer seems happy to proceed, you can spend some time talking through the specifics of how you’ll achieve their objectives. This may include things like payment options and implementation processes. You can also talk to them through onboarding timelines.
Once a deal is closed, you’ll need to hand things over to a customer success manager (CSM). As such, it’s important to make some preliminary introductions to who they’ll be dealing with and what to expect when this handover occurs.
Even with superior sales patter at your disposal, there’s always a chance you’ll run into objections. Potential customers may have several reasons why they can’t commit to a deal. This may include budget constraints or concerns about implementations. Just because a discussion has progressed to the closing call stage, doesn’t mean a prospective customer won’t fire off objections. However, handling objections is relatively straightforward.
Firstly, make sure you’re listening to what the customer is saying to get a firm handle on what their objection is. In most cases, reluctance to commit will come down to concerns about price. If you’re not in a position to negotiate price there and then, focus instead on promoting the unique benefits and added value your product or service offers.
Generally speaking, pricing discussions will have been carried out before a closing call. However, there’s always a chance this subject will come into play during a closing call.
Make sure you enter into any closing call with a clear idea of the kinds of concessions you can offer. You should also have a firm reservation price in place. It can be tempting to offer discounts to encourage an indecisive prospect to commit but don’t bring them into play until you have to.
Provided everything has gone well with the closing call, a prospective customer should now be ready to sign on the dotted line and commit to onboarding. However, don’t get carried away just because a prospect has made a preliminary agreement. You need to be absolutely clear that both sides are fully committed to progressing. Make it clear that you’ll be sending over a finalized contract on an agreed-upon date.
With everything finalized, you can now hand things over to a CSM. If possible, bring the customer success manager into the discussion so they can introduce themselves in person. If the CSM isn’t available, you can introduce them in absentia. They should provide their full name and title, as well as when the customer can expect to receive communication from them.
About the author
Ciaran Hourican is the Managing Director of H-Training, a learning and development company, that offers career and corporate services such as interview coaching, career guidance for adults and leadership programs.