Read our article to learn how to write a sales email from start to finish that gets opens, reads, and positive replies from your potential buyers.
The close is the final stage in the sales process where you actually ask the prospect to buy your product or service and sign a formal agreement. Your countless lead generation and lead nurturing efforts have led you to this tipping point of the sale. So, it’s important to hit the nail on the head here and actually close the deal. Luckily, there’s a standard closing process that top sellers use, plus an abundance of techniques and tips supported by experts in the craft.
The sales closing process can be thought of as the third and final phase of your sales process, following lead generation and lead nurturing. The closing phase represents the actions you take to get the contract or agreement signed by your prospect. It begins when you recognize your prospect is ready to buy and ends in either a closed/won or a closed/lost deal. While the specific actions you take depends on your business, you’ll follow similar steps.
Salespeople typically close following this broad process:
There are different sales closing techniques that sellers use to move prospects through this process, such as the assumptive close or soft close. To help, let’s first go over the repeatable closing steps in detail so you can customize them to your needs. Then, we'll discuss the various techniques you can use at each step of the way to move your prospect towards a deal-win.
Most sales closing steps loosely follow the four main stages we mentioned above. However, the specific steps you take to close the sale will vary depending on your business and each specific customer’s purchasing process. Here, we’ll give you a customizable blueprint — below is an effective and repeatable closing process you can follow and customize to your needs.
The best time to ask for the sale is when your prospect has expressed a strong desire in purchasing your product or service. Spotting this buying intent is tricky, but when you learn how to identify it, you can ask at the right time and you’ll see positive results.
The buying intent could come in the form of an explicit statement of desire to buy like “This is what we’ve been looking for! How do we get this implemented ASAP?” Or it could be represented by more subtle actions, like a prospect taking an interest in a specific case study and asking many questions about it. Typically, the best time to look for this intent is during or after a sales presentation or demo.
Here are some signs of buying intent:
Unless you have years of practice, spotting intent can be difficult since prospects express interest in different ways. So, it’s often better to ask for the sale when you get the slightest indication that they want to buy. If you jump the gun, that’s okay; you can help them overcome their concerns and try later. If they say yes, then you’re onto the next step of asking for an agreement.
After you’ve spotted buying intent, be direct and ask your prospect for a non-binding verbal agreement to buy your product or service. This is typically done over a call but can also be done over email. Generally, this ask gets the buyer to confirm their interest in moving forward and entering into a partnership.
Ask for the agreement using your preferred closing technique, such as one of the below:
Your style and relationship with the customer will determine which technique you employ when asking for this agreement. The important thing is that you don't beat around the bush. Be direct, which doesn't mean you have to be forceful. If the prospect says yes, move forward with the next steps: sending a binding agreement. If they say no, try to understand why and overcome their objections.
Now that you know the buyer is committed to forming a business agreement, send a binding agreement that outlines the legal terms of the deal. This is usually in the form of a digital or written contract, but it could also come as a business proposal that doubles as a contract. Regardless, your final document should state that this is a binding contract; when the prospect signs it, you’ll have officially closed the sale.
Depending on your sales process, there are a few ways you might approach this step:
To streamline the sending and signing of the document, many businesses use electronic signature software, which allows your prospect to sign the document with a secure digital signature. It also generally includes templates that you can use to create your contracts, along with document management to keep them organized. Contract management software offers these functions plus more tools to help you further manage your deals.
Consider scheduling a contract review meeting with a prospect when you ask for the binding agreement. This helps move the deal forward by creating a deadline for your prospect to review the contract, and it's also common practice for businesses with complex contracts. That said, this meeting is not necessary for all closers, so hold one only if it's valuable.
If you do schedule the meeting, plan to handle any objections, concerns, or questions that might be holding the buyer back from signing the contract. If you’re lucky, the prospect might tell you before the meeting that it all looks good and they’ve already signed it. In some cases, prospects will have demands or want to negotiate prices and terms.
You can use various closing techniques to ask for the sale during the review meeting. When in doubt, just say “Are you ready to move forward with the agreement?” If your negotiation resulted in changes to the contract, tell them you’ll make the changes and send it to them the same day.
When you send your contract for a signature, the deal’s fate is still not completely out of your hands — you still have work to do to get it signed quickly. Continue emailing or calling your buyer to ask for updates about the contract. Remind them you’re around to answer any questions.
To ensure your follow-ups come across as friendly, helpful reminders, follow these best practices:
Here’s an example of a follow-up email you can send to a prospect who is in the closing stage looking over your contract:
That email should be enough to motivate action if the prospect had forgotten about the contract. Hopefully, the prospect will soon sign the deal, but sometimes they'll have objections first.
Your prospect might have hesitations about the agreement’s price, terms, timeline, or anything else. If so, hop on a phone call with them to talk through the concern. Focus first on asking questions to understand the objection so you can overcome it.
If they want to make changes to the contract, decide whether you can accommodate their demands, and consider asking for something in return to make it a fair deal. For instance, if they want month-to-month commitment instead of yearly, you could ask them to do a video case study with you to help your marketing or include a $200 setup fee.
Sometimes, your prospect's objections will be too difficult to overcome or their demands will be unfair. If you fail to come to an agreement, mark the deal as closed/lost and end amicably. If you succeed in getting the contract signed, however, mark it down as a closed/won opportunity and begin your post-sale process.
After the deal has officially closed and you've marked it as closed/won, change the contact from a prospect to a customer in your CRM software. Then enter into your post-sale process, such as introducing the prospect to their account manager, onboarding them onto the platform, or scheduling and sending out your first delivery.
Whether it’s in your hands or your account management team’s, it's time for a smooth transition from the seller to the partner. Make it easy on the prospect, who has just committed to working with you.
It’s helpful to follow a technique when going through your closing process. When you reuse the same technique many times, you’ll gain confidence and sound more articulate, thereby improving your chances of getting a yes. Here, we’ll cover three of the best closing techniques and how to do them.
The summary close is a closing technique in which you restate the benefits of your solution before asking the prospect to move forward with the purchase. This reminds them of the value of your solution by reviewing the features and benefits that’ll impact them the most. This can be especially useful if you have long sales cycles or a lengthy presentation, and it can help you separate yourself if the prospect is comparing you to other companies.
Here’s an example of a summary close:
To work effectively, the features and benefits in the above example must be tailored to the biggest needs of your prospect.
With the option close, you give your prospects 2–3 options. This works best if you have tiered pricing models or packages. If you only have one package to offer, you can give the prospect an option between the package and something else, like the first delivery date.
Here’s an example of an option close:
When you give the prospect a choice, you give them a feeling of control over the agreement. When they feel in control, they feel comfortable and are more likely to buy.
The assumptive close is a technique where you assume the prospect is going to buy. This close demonstrates your confidence in your solution and its ability to help the prospect. It’s best used when the prospect seems not to have objections and is satisfied with what they’ve heard so far in the sales process. You’ve successfully checked all their boxes.
Here’s an example of an assumptive close:
Because of its effectiveness, we have an entire article explaining how to use the assumptive close like a pro. There, you'll learn how to naturally assume the sale to move it forward without coming off as aggressive or pushy. It's a great option to weave into any closing technique
Different salespeople use different selling styles, which dictate the phrasing and actions of their closing strategies. To give you a look at the variety out there in the sales world, we asked some experts in the field for their best closing tips. Below are four of the most useful tactics we recommend testing out.
Sometimes, all that’s needed to win the deal is a sense of urgency. Your prospect doesn't want to miss out on a great offer. Here’s what CMO Petra Odak has to say about creating urgency during the closing phase:
"The principle of scarcity always works. I always have an extra offer up my sleeve for a customer that’s on the edge but just not sure yet. For example, offering an extra month if they go for purchasing an annual account, but the offer is only valid for 24 hours. It may not seem like a lot but when you’re selling to a company with 50+ accounts, this makes for a huge difference and is usually enough to tip the scale in our favor."
Besides helping you win the deal, urgency will also ensure you close deals more quickly, thereby freeing up time to focus on other opportunities.
An anti-close is when you tell the prospect they’re not ready to buy until they’ve dealt with a potential concern (e.g., they haven’t had the CFO check the reporting capabilities yet). Andrew Poles of Impact Speaking Lab recommends this tactic to help you move forward those deals that seem stuck in the decision phase:
"One creative tactic I have used to close sales is the anti-close. Sales are powerful when your prospect sees committing to your solution as their idea, not yours. Sometimes, you can tell that someone is uncertain, and although you could move them to closing, they would be likely left with doubt or remorse, which never ends well. In this situation, try the anti-close. Suggest to your prospect that they’re not ready to commit because they haven’t resolved X, Y, or Z issue for themselves, and until they do that, they won’t be able to move forward powerfully with their issue anyway. Often when presented with this, they will become motivated to resolve their unresolved issue so they can stop being stuck where they are, motivated by loss aversion, and then they close themselves."
By telling the prospect the actions they need to take before they’re ready to purchase, you’re building trust and also giving them and yourself next steps to move the sale forward.
Consider asking questions that get the prospect to think about how wonderful it would be to have your product or service in their lives. Here’s how CEO Brian Robben recommends doing this:
"Leading with assumptive questions has been a game changer for our sales team's success. A question such as ‘Forget about the details for a second; assuming this product works and does exactly what you're looking for, how would that change your business?’ gets the prospect in the right frame of mind. Now they're talking and thinking about a better future after the sale, which is exactly why you're going to get the sale."
Influencing the prospect’s imagination to light up with vivid images of themselves enjoying your solution is a sure-fire way to get them to agree to a purchase.
To eliminate a bit of risk for the prospect, try offering a money-back guarantee while you close the deal. Entrepreneur Willie Greer explains why this works so well:
"This option only strengthens your brand and makes your customers feel more sure about whatever it is that you are offering them. Money-back guarantee is very much favorable to your clients or customers since they can refund the entire service should they feel dissatisfied. Showing how confident you are on your brand is a make or break, but it's a risk that will definitely be worth it on your end as a brand. For us, it was indeed a risk worth taking, and a gamble which we can say we won."
It’s always easier to sign on the dotted line when you know you have some time to back out of the deal if things aren’t going as you expected.
Closing a deal typically requires that you spot buying intent, ask for the sale, send your contract, handle objections, and ask for the sale repeatedly until the dotted line is signed. As we noted, the close begins with that first ask. But, it usually ends only after the second or third. Buyers almost always have concerns, so if you get a no to “Are you ready to move forward?,” know that it doesn’t mean the deal’s dead, just that you have some hesitations to uncover and resolve.