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The assumptive close is a closing technique that uses language and questions implying that your prospect is going to make a purchase. Instead of asking the prospect if they would like to buy, the salesperson instead asks how they would like to buy. In this article, we’re going to cover what the assumptive close is, who should use it, how to use it, some specific questions to ask, and alternatives for those who may not be best served by this technique.
The assumptive close is one of the strategies salespeople employ at the end of their sales process when they’re closing a sale. This strategy involves implying that the purchase is a foregone conclusion, showing confidence and momentum toward the close and attempting to avoid a “no” from a prospect. For example, a seller might ask, “When would you like us to deliver (product)?,” assuming that the prospect has already decided to purchase the product.
The assumptive close is a common and effective sales closing technique because it helps when asking for the sale, can speed up the closing process, and can be used in combination with other closing techniques. However, as with any technique, there are pros and cons to the assumptive close, as well as alternatives for when the technique doesn’t seem appropriate in a given situation. Let’s dive into who should use it and how, as well as who should avoid it.
An assumptive close is known as an industry standard within sales; most salespeople should leverage this technique, especially when there’s clear mutual respect in the relationship and/or the prospect has been easygoing throughout the sales process. It offers a high chance of closing as it sets the tone for a sale out of the gate. However, there are certain prospects who have temperaments that can cause the assumptive close to backfire. Let’s discuss them now.
Here are the temperaments for which you should opt against using an assumptive close:
Unless your prospect shows signs of having one of these three temperaments, you should consider defaulting to an assumptive close. The technique is an industry standard for a reason, and it works best in many circumstances.
The assumptive closing technique is something that takes place over time and is a form of suggestion meant to plant a seed in your prospect’s brain. This means that you need to know when to start using the technique, what to say or ask, and when to finally go in for the official close. The final close is when you get them to sign paperwork or place an order.
Follow these steps to use the assumptive close technique:
Let’s cover how best to perform each step, and how your approach can change depending on the prospect’s responses.
To prepare for your closing process, make lists for the discovery and delivery details you need. Once you’ve uncovered all of the details on your discovery list and have the delivery details nailed down, you’ll wrap everything up and go in for your final close. Making and following these lists is important preparation that can help lead to the eventual close.
For the first list, write down at least five pieces of discovery information that you can use to identify the value of your offering that justifies your assumptive close. So, make a general list that you can use for every prospect that includes common reasons that your prospects will buy.
Here are some examples of the questions you’ll put on this list:
As you can see, these are general list items, so there’s no need to make a new list for each prospect. You don’t have to check off every single list item before you begin your assumptive close process, but it’s good to have one or two of these before you begin.
Similar to the last list, you are going to create another general list, but this time it will include the vital delivery details that you need in order to fill out closing paperwork. This list should include everything you need to set up the delivery process.
Since I worked in car sales, I’ll show you an example of my list when I was selling:
After gathering this information, I could get the car into detail and prepare the paperwork for them right away. The difference with this list is that you want to wait until you have all of the following details before you wrap things up, because we want to use this information to prepare the paperwork for a quick close. We’ll go into how you will get them in step three below.
This step takes place while speaking with the prospect throughout the discovery and nurturing process. Once you’ve gathered at least two or three discovery items on your list that prove the value of your solution, you have enough justification to perform an assumptive close.
Usually, this information is revealed during direct contact with the lead over a discovery call or something similar, but can also come about during few different points in the sales flow, including:
If you didn’t gather enough information in these processes, you can always ask some discovery questions that correspond with your list items. For our example list of discovery questions above, questions could look like “How long does it take you to handle X without our product?” or “How much do you spend handling X without our product?” Again, once you’ve gathered two or three of these answers, you have enough to start assuming the close, which is our next step.
Now that you’re prepared to start closing, ask questions about how they want the product delivered, which product they want, and all other details regarding product delivery that are on your second list; we’ll cover specific examples later on.
The one rule here is to never ask “Do you want to move forward with a purchase?,” as you want to create an environment wherein the sale is a foregone conclusion and skip straight to delivery. Instead of giving the prospect an open opportunity to say “no,” introduce a positive expectation that will take extra effort from the prospect to eliminate. Buying is an emotional process, and creating social incentive to continue on with the delivery details increases the chances of a sale.
Here are some questions that I would ask to get the delivery details in the car sales example:
If the prospect points out that you have assumed the sale, or says something like “Well, I never said I’m going to buy,” simply bring up the discovery details that you gathered earlier. This will sound something like, “Oh, my apologies. You told me it was going to save you $X every year and speed up your operations, so I figured that meant you were interested in purchasing. Is there anything holding you back from making a purchase?”
Once you’ve gotten all of your prospect’s preferences for product delivery, you’ll invite them to finalize the deal. In your final close, mention all of the delivery information they just gave you, and then tell them that you can get things moving right away. This pushes the assumptive close concept even further, as you make the close as easy for them as possible by detailing exactly what the purchase will look like and telling them everything is ready.
For my car sales example, this is what the final close would look like: “Alright, so you want the 2021 (model) with a white exterior, black interior delivered today with the paint protection and a maintenance package. We can get that into detail for you right now, and sign the paperwork, and you can be driving it out of here in about half an hour.”
You can start the final close earlier only if the prospect invites you to. So, if the prospect interrupts your assumptive closing questions with “Okay, I think I’m ready to buy” or any other invitation to get paperwork started, you can ask the rest of your delivery questions while handling paperwork.
While the examples above can help you gather the overall process of assumptive closing, there are general questions that you can use in almost any industry to gather your delivery details. Take a look at the example questions below, using them as a reference point for your own or asking them exactly as they’re written.
Here are our top seven assumptive closing questions to ask:
Each of these questions can fill a line item on an invoice, or a section on closing paperwork, and help create a faster and easier closing process. When you have your prospect’s answers and are able to put together the paperwork for them, it can make “yes” practically roll off of their tongue. This is helpful for you because you make the sale, and it can be helpful for indecisive prospects that struggle with analysis paralysis — in other words, those who overanalyze buying decisions.
To help you get an idea of what all of this looks like in sequence, let’s flesh out our car sales example at its full length so that you can see the whole process. We’re going to cover the entire conversation, starting with the discovery items, assuming the salesperson has little-to-no information on the prospect.
This example is a script assuming some common responses from a prospect, starting with the discovery process. Then, after the necessary discovery questions have been answered, we dive into some assumptive delivery questions to plant the seed of a sale, and then finish with a hard close after collecting the delivery details we need.
Salesperson (S): “So, how much time do you usually spend driving?”
Prospect (P): “I commute a half hour each way to work, five days a week.”
S: “Wow, so having a nicer and more comfortable interior would probably make that a little bit easier, huh?”
P: “Yeah, I’ve really been wanting a car with a leather interior and a better sound system.”
S: “That’s great to hear. We definitely have great options for you, both standard and upgraded. What are your other priorities in a new car?”
P: “I really want something safe. I drive my kids around a lot after work and do all of the driving on weekends.”
S: “I understand that completely. Luckily, our cars have great safety ratings, so we can certainly offer that peace of mind. The model we test drove has a five-star safety rating; would that be the one you want to take home?”
P: “Yeah it’s my favorite SUV that you offer, so if I were to buy, that would be the one I’d choose.”
S: “I love that car — I always enjoy the test drives. Do you want it in the same white exterior and black interior, or were you interested in a different color combination?”
P: “I think I like the white-on-black the best.”
S: “Great choice. Do you want the paint protection or the maintenance package that we talked about a bit? Or any other odds and ends, like upgraded rims or running boards?”
P: “I’m not looking to go too overboard on the upgrades. Whatever the test drive car had on the inside is fine, but I think the running boards will help my kids get in a little easier.”
S: “Alright, I’ll mark those down for now, and you can always change your mind later. Looks like we have a 2021 (model), white-on-black, with running boards. If I can get all of that together for you, would you be looking to take it home today, or would you need to set up a pickup time?”
P: “I’d take it home today.”
S: “Alright, well I can get the car into detail right now. We’ll just put you down for the one we test drove and have service put the running boards on while we get papers signed.”
P: “Sounds good to me!”
Through this example, we were able to hammer out some discovery items, like how much they drive, if a newer car would improve their experience, and what they are looking for in the car. Then, we hammered out all of the delivery details we needed, like what car they wanted, in what color combination, and with what options. After that, all we had to do was confirm the date and offer to do it all for them, and we got the deal done.
The assumptive close is the closing technique that we recommend for most circumstances. That being said, there are pros and cons to consider when learning when and how to properly use it. Let’s go over some of those pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision on whether to use an assumptive close with most of your prospects.
Assumptive closing has a few powerful advantages, and that is why we recommend it for most sales situations. The following aspects of the assumptive close make it one of the best ways to approach the closing process:
As with anything, though, there are drawbacks to this approach, as well. Let’s cover a few of those to help you make your decision.
While a guided, streamlined approach can make it easier for most of your customers to make a purchase, there are some drawbacks to this approach for prospects who like to have more control. Here are some of the cons of the assumptive closing approach:
These cons relate to the list of temperaments that we mentioned above, and you should be cognizant of them when speaking with your prospect and deciding how you are going to close the sale. The pros, in our opinion, far outweigh the cons, which is why we recommend that most salespeople default to using this closing technique.
If assumptive selling won’t work for a given prospect, or you would just rather choose a different approach, you should know some of our recommended alternatives to use instead. So, we’re going to go over the top options, and a general summary of each, so that you have every opportunity available to you when closing your deals.
Soft closing is similar to assumptive closing in the sense that it takes place over a somewhat long period of time. Throughout the sales process, you’ll make soft, conditional closes to get your prospect used to saying “yes” and to gather concrete commitment from them.
These will usually sound like the following:
The soft close is my favorite way of working with prospects who are more demanding or controlling, as it frames every demand as a commitment. It gives the prospect control over the process, but still ushers them toward a close at every step of the negotiation.
An inoffensive close is another solid way to handle more controlling prospects, as it eases the prospect into the close by asking them questions regarding how pleased they are with your product. You start by listing off all the ways that you have discovered that your product fits their business, and then ask them if there is anything else to include.
This technique looks like this: “So our commercial washer will save you around $20,000 a year on staff costs, increase the speed of the washing process by around 50%, and ensure that dishes are always hot and ready for plating. Is there anything I’ve missed?”
If they don’t have anything to add, then you can ask them questions that lead them closer to the final close. Questions like “Are you satisfied with what our product has to offer?” and “Do you think we offer the best solution for your problem?” look for a yes to then initiate the paperwork.
1-to-10 closing is a check-in style of closing, similar to soft closing, wherein you check up on your progress toward the sale by asking the prospect to rate how close they are to buying on a scale of 1 to 10.
It should sound something like this: “On a scale of 1 to 10, one being not interested at all and ten being ready to buy right now, how interested are you in what we are offering?”
If you get anything less than an 8, follow up with questions about their concerns, or possibly some information that you missed that they want to know. Questions like “What exactly is holding you back?” or “Is there anything else that you’d like to know about the product?” should help you get closer to a 10, which is when you can seal the deal.
Learn more about our top strategies to close a deal in our article on sales closing techniques. There, we explain each technique (including the assumptive close and the three alternatives above), who should use it, and how to successfully execute it.
Assumptive closing is a great way to nurture your prospects to a sale without opening the “no” door at all. You are able to create a strong current toward the sale, and do enough of the work for your prospect that it makes almost no sense to halt the progress you’ve made. So, try it with the right prospects, and your conversion will improve.