Closing the sale

People often ask me for a magic question to use when closing the sale. A killer question!  As if one question would make all the difference if you haven’t understood the clients’ needs properly!

I’m afraid there is no magic question. It’s about selling effectively and following a needs-based process. The better you do this the more likely you are to get a positive response from your client. But there is no magic bullet.

Clients want to deal with people they know and trust. People that take the time to build relationships with them and fully understand their needs. If you do all that it’s a great start, but let’s break it down:

  • When you first meet a prospect do you seek to fully understand their needs? We mean properly understand their needs by asking in-depth needs-oriented questions?
  • Do you put off talking about your products and services, or indeed closing the sale, until you do understand their needs?
  • Do you make sure that you’re not thinking about products and services to sell them while you are exploring their needs?
  • Do you absolutely – absolutely – avoid talking about price when you are exploring their needs?
  • Is it all about them? ALL ABOUT THEM! And not about you or your business in any way whatsoever.

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, we’d say you have the magic formula. Most salespeople don’t do it.

It’s like this – your clients have needs and they want you to meet these needs. Pure and simple. It’s not about you, your products and services or how good your company is. It really isn’t.

So, if we get back to closing the sale, which would you rather do?

  • Have a ‘killer’ question that might nail deals for you regardless of whether or not you’ve understood their needs, or:
  • Build long term relationships based on trust and honesty where you deliver bespoke solutions to meet real needs?

The key in writing new business is in building an ‘agreement staircase’ with your prospect where you take small steps forward (and upward) with them. A skill in building this agreement staircase is in dealing with questions – objections – that the prospect may have as the discussion progresses.

No matter how well you explore their needs, there will still probably be aspects of their business that you don’t understand. For this reason we recommend that when closing the sale it’s a good idea to first ask an open question such as ‘How do you feel about our discussion?’ or ‘Tell me what you think of our proposal?’

The alternative is to ask a closed question that will elicit a yes or a no answer. The danger with this approach is that if your prospect has any further objections, and you have effectively given them a yes / no ultimatum, the answer is likely to be a no.

So, if you’re looking at closing the sale go for an open question, as it shows you’re interested in your prospect and want to do the best for them.

But the only magic question – questions – are those that you ask to fully understand their needs and  create bespoke and innovative solutions to meet those needs.

Your prospects and customers will love you for it!


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Brendan Walsh