How to Close the Sale: Process, Steps, Techniques & More

Read our article about how to close the sale, where we share a repeatable and effective closing process as well as top closing techniques.

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.

How Does the Sales Closing Process Work?

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:

  1. Ask for a Non-Binding Agreement: Using various statements and questions,actually ask the prospect to verbally agree to buy the solution.
  2. Send out a Binding Proposal and/or Contract: Send out your written document that outlines the terms of the agreement and seals the deal when signed. 
  3. Overcome Any Objections: If your prospect has issues with the agreement, attempt to assuage them of any of these concerns or hesitations in a meeting or call.
  4. Mark the Deal as Closed/Won or Closed/Lost: If the prospect signs the contract, note it as closed/won in your CRM software and facilitate any post-sale steps. If you couldn’t come to an agreement, mark it as closed/lost.

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.

How to Close the Sale in 7 Steps

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.

1. Recognize Strong Buying Intent in Your Prospect

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: 

  • Use-Case Fascination: The customer is fascinated by a particular use case and wants to know everything about it. This shows they’re imagining using the product or service themselves. 
  • Questions About the Future: The prospect is asking about post-sale processes, policies, and the contract. They want to know how implementation and product training will go, etc. This shows they’re thinking about a future with you. 
  • Requests for Reassurance: The buyer asks for assurance on answers you’ve already given them, like “Are you positive this will enable us to go paperless?” This means they liked what you said but just want to ensure it’s correct before taking the leap.
  • Purchase-Related Web Activity: When prospects are spending lots of time looking at your case studies, product features, or pricing page, it’s a good sign they’re considering buying.

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.

2. Ask for a Verbal 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:

  • Option Close: Give the prospect options to choose from and therefore a sense of control. “So would you like to go ahead with the starter or the premium package?”
  • Soft Close: Focus on restating the benefits and taking a low-pressure approach that makes the prospect comfortable with you. “So now that you know that this product can reduce your operating costs by 53%, are you comfortable moving forward?”
  • Urgency Close: State a deadline to make the purchase and tell the prospect that if they don’t meet it, they’ll miss something good (like low price or good terms). “If you buy by Friday, we’ll be able to offer this low rate.”

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.

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Additional Reading:

For more on asking for a verbal agreement, check out our article on how to ask for the sale. There, you'll learn effective statements to transition into your ask, as well as ways to frame how you actually ask your prospect for the sale.

3. Send the Proposal & Contract

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:

  • Simple Contract: If you’ve already sent the prospect a business proposal where you outlined the scope of work and pricing, your contract might just outline the legal terms.
  • Detailed Contract: If this is the first written document you’re sending them, the contract could state the legal terms, pricing, and timeline, and serve as both the business proposal and contract.
  • One-Page Proposal and Contract: If your offer is inexpensive or simple, you have a strong relationship with your prospect, or they request a short proposal, you might simply send a one-page proposal and contract.

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.

4. Hold a Contract Review Meeting

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.

5. Follow Up

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:

  • Space Out Your Follow-ups: Buying decisions can take a while, especially if your solution is pricey. It's appropriate to follow up once a week.
  • Keep Follow-ups Brief: Your emails and calls shouldn’t take up too much of your prospect’s time. Keep emails under 120 words and phone calls under 10 minutes.
  • Continue to Provide Value: Just because it’s the closing phase doesn't mean you should stop showing your worth. In follow-up emails, include useful articles or insights into the industry after your main question.

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: 

How to close example contract follow-up

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.

6. Overcome Any Objections

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.

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Additional Reading:

For more information, read our article on objection handling, where you’ll learn how best to deal with your prospects’ objections so you can seek win-win solutions close more deals.

7. Facilitate Next Steps

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.

3 Best Techniques to Close the Deal

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

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.

The Option Close

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

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

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Additional Reading:

For a list of our full techniques to close the deal, read our article on the best sales closing techniques. This article will list all the top closing techniques, including who should use each and how to employ them.

Top 4 Sales Closing Tips From Experts

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.

Introduce Scarcity to the Deal

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."

Petra Odak - Better Proposals
Petra Odak
CMO at Better Proposals

Besides helping you win the deal, urgency will also ensure you close deals more quickly, thereby freeing up time to focus on other opportunities.

Use the Anti-Close

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."

Andrew Poles
Andrew Poles
Co-Founder of Impact Speaking Lab

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.

Ask Questions That Evoke Positive Emotions

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."

Brian Robben
Brian Robben
CEO of Robben Media

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.

Offer a Money-Back Guarantee

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."

Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Founder of The Product Analyst

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.

Bottom Line: How to Close the Sale

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.

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