How to Close the Sale: Process, Steps, Tips & More 2022

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 stage of the sales process where you ask the prospect to buy your product or service and sign a formal agreement. This is the third and final stage of your sales process, following lead generation and lead nurturing. It represents the actions you take to get the contract or agreement signed by your prospect. There are standard closing steps that top sellers use to close the deal, plus an abundance of techniques and tips supported by experts in the craft.

How the Sales Closing Process Works

The sales closing process begins when you recognize your prospect is ready to buy, and it ends in either a closed/won or a closed/lost deal. While the specific actions you take depends on your business, you’ll follow a standard set of steps to help you identify when it's time to make the ask, finalize the details, and mark the sale as closed. You'll then faciliate next steps for won deals, or for lost deals, you'll move on to the next likeliest prospect.

Salespeople typically close following this broad process:

  1. Identify Buying Intent: Recognize when you've successfully gotten your prospect into the buyer mentality so you know when it's appropriate to ask for the sale.
  2. Ask for a Non-Binding Agreement: Using various statements and questions, actually ask the prospect to verbally agree to buy the solution.
  3. Send a Binding Proposal and/or Contract: Send out your written document that outlines the terms of the agreement and seals the deal when signed. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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 8 Steps

Most sales closing steps loosely follow the five 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 a lead you've generated and nurtured has expressed a strong desire in purchasing your product or service. Spotting this buying intent during lead nurturing 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 on to the next step of asking for an agreement.

2. Identify the Right Closing Technique to Use

Your style, your relationship with the customer, and the buyer persona they best align with will determine which technique you employ when asking for this agreement. There are eleven best closing techniques to choose from, including the below:

  • The Assumptive Close: Assume the prospect will buy, demonstrating your confidence in your solution and its ability to help the prospect. The assumptive close is highly effective.
  • The Inoffensive Close: Before asking for the close, affirm your prospect's feelings about the benefits the product will bring them, allowing them to move forward at their own pace.
  • The Summary Close: Remind your prospect of your solution's value by reviewing the benefits that’ll impact them the most.
  • The 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).
  • The Take-Away Close: To encourage your prospect to commit, suggest that you stop working on the deal until they're ready to buy.

It’s helpful to follow a single technique when going through your closing process. When you reuse the same technique many times with a prospect, you’ll gain confidence and sound more articulate, thereby improving your chances of getting a yes. Once you've chosen the technique that will best fit your prospect's personality and your relationship with them, it's time to officially make the ask.

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Additional Reading:

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

3. Ask for a Verbal Agreement

After you’ve spotted buying intent and planned your closing technique, be direct and use questions and statements to 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. 

Below are the types of questions and statements that will help you ask for the sale:

  • Sales Transition Statements: First, use a phrase to segue from your discussions around your product or service into the final close. Examples include "Let's talk details," "Let’s review everything you’ve told me thus far,” and "It looks like {product or service} will work great for you."
  • Sales Closing Questions: Next, ask a strategic question to gauge your prospect's comfort level and determine whether anything is holding them back. For example, "Do you want my help with {goal/pain point}?", "Are you ready to purchase?", and "What's holding you back?"
  • Sales Closing Statements: Create a sense of urgency and encourage your prospect to close now. Good examples are "If I've answered all your questions, I think we can finalize this deal" and "We've created such a great deal for you that we'll have to get it done now to offer it."
  • B2B Sales Closing Statements: If you're selling to a corporate prospect, consider tailoring your statement to the B2B space. For example, "You said you need {product} by {date}, so let's move forward to the next steps now so you can be sure to make your deadline."

Throughout these questions and statements, 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.

4. 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.

Ultimately, it's important to ask for the sale, share a proposal, and send the contract. However, depending on your sales process, these three stages might not necessarily follow this order. For example, you could send a proposal, then ask for the sale, then email a final contract, or you could ask for the sale, then send a proposal and contract to support that ask.

More specifically, below are a few ways you might approach this step according to your process:

  • Detailed Business Proposal and 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.
  • Standalone 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.

Regardless of how you choose to send your proposal and contract, consider using software to streamline the sending and signing of the document. Contract management software includes templates to help create your contracts, along with functionality to send them, track them, and keep them organized. Electronic signature software offers simpler features, with the main purpose to help your prospect sign the document with a secure digital signature.

5. 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. Or if you’re lucky, the prospect might tell you before the meeting that it all looks good and they’ve already signed it.

If you do schedule the meeting, plan to handle any questions that might be on the buyer's mind so they can better understand the contract and then feel more comfortable signing it. 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?”

In some cases, prospects will have demands or want to negotiate prices and terms before adding their signature. They might bring these up in the meeting, or they could contact you afterward.

6. Overcome Any Objections & Negotiate the Deal

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. Once you handle their main objections, you can move on to any final negotiations to ensure they're happy with the deal.

As you negotiate 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 a month-to-month commitment instead of an annual one, 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 negotiation 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 coming to an agreement, however, make any necessary changes to the contract based on your negotiations and send it to the prospect the same day.

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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 and close more deals.

7. Follow Up

When you send your contract for a signature, the deal’s fate is 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. These emails should be enough to motivate action if the prospect has forgotten about the contract.

To ensure your follow-ups come across as friendly, helpful reminders, follow these best practices:

  • Follow Up Once a Week: Buying decisions can take a while, especially if your solution is pricey. Space out your follow-ups so you're not contacting the prospect too often, but once a week is appropriate so the deal doesn't fall through the cracks.
  • 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 and looking over your contract: 

Follow-up email template how to close the sale
Follow-up email template to close the sale

8. Facilitate Next Steps

After the deal has officially closed and you've marked it as closed/won, convert the contact 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.

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.

Petra Odak - Better Proposals

Petra Odak

CMO, Better Proposals

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, CMO, Better Proposals

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

Andrew Poles

Andrew Poles

Co-Founder, Impact Speaking Lab

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 or roadblock. 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 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, Co-Founder, 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.

Brian Robben

Brian Robben

CEO, Robben Media

Ask Questions That Evoke Positive Emotions

Ask 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 it."

— Brian Robben, CEO, Robben Media

Influencing the prospect’s imagination to evoke vivid images of themselves enjoying your solution is a sure-fire way to get them to agree to a purchase.

Willie Greer

Willie Greer

Founder, The Product Analyst

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, Founder, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I Close the Sale on the Phone, in Person, or via Email?

It's best practice to try to close the sale on the phone or in person. While closing via email can come off as non-threatening and it can be helpful to have a paper trail, answering emails takes more time and effort on the prospect's part. If you follow up on your proposal or contract via email, always try to schedule a phone call or meeting to finish up the deal.

How Do I Close the Sale With an Aggressive or Resistant Prospect?

First and foremost, learn to identify strong buying intent so you can ask at the appropriate time. Then consider the prospect's temperament and your relationship with them, and use that to choose a closing technique and closing statements and questions. The best technique to use for aggressive prospects tends to be the inoffensive close, which allows them to reach a decision without feeling pressured. Avoid expressing urgency, assuming a done deal, or threatening to walk away.

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 negotiations, 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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