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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.
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:
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 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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 sales 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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.