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Exactly How to Close More Sales in 8433 Words (Updated March 2017)

How to Close Sales Worth £m’s: March 2017

From the desk of Danny Chapman. 29th March 2017. Reading Time – 14 minutes.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.” – Sir Richard Branson.

In modern day sales the ball-park has changed, old school methods of cold calling, door knocking and others have been replaced by the plethora of processes that the internet has to offer.

But, the principals are very similar. The strategy, the processes and techniques of those door-to-door salesman of yesteryear are replicated in a virtual environment.

The only thing that has changed is the High Street.

The busiest one in the world is the place you sit right now, online.

Master the art of the generating customers, eyes, visitors online and you’re in the driving seat.

How did you find this page? …See what I mean.

The principals of all of these new practices are pretty similar and below we’ve bought together a guide of all the techniques and theory we use across the industries we work in and some juicy ideas that we’ve found externally.

Before we get started: For those veteran sales people out there, you will definitely see some techniques/theory below that you’ve heard before, so feel free to use the contents menu to navigate to exactly where interests you.

Famous ‘Closers’: Some Inspiration Before we Start

We’ve all seen The Wolf of Wall Street right?

Jordan Belfort (the real one) is possibly one of the best sales gurus in the World – when he’s not throwing midgets around – and has been written about in pretty much every paper there is available today.

Even though he was thrown down (rightly) he bounced back up because of that attitude to succeed.

Sales techniques, strategy and closing lines can be taught, but attitude and application can not.

“Playing it safe and taking no risks is a shortcut to poverty”

I Love Your Pickle

One of my personal favourites in modern day business is Richard Branson, although not widely considered as a ‘sales guru’, you simply can not get to where he is without being special.

For me, the genius of the man is unquantifiable.

A young lad wanting to get ahead, he rented a broom cupboard (literally) in a building on Mayfair just so he could pick up the phone and get some respect from the other end of the call.

Something that Richard said himself resonates in online marketing like no other single quote I’ve heard.

how to close sales

 

Put yourself in a position to be presented with opportunities, say yes, then work out how you’re going to manage it.

Essentially, it breaks down to this: Get the customer through the door first.

I know someone who wants to set up a photography business, has done for several years but they can’t see past raising the huge amount of money needed to buy all the professional equipment first.

For me, get a couple of wedding bookings, then buy your gear.

The same principal is rife in everything you should be doing in sales.

Earning the Right to Pitch

Remember that you being able to pitch to a potential client is a privilege.

You’ve probably spent loads of time and money to get to this stage so don’t underestimate how important this level is.

The art of pitching is about understanding the wants, needs and requirements of the client.

Your pitch is only going to succeed if you get all of those things right, you’re research is correct and your communication with the client is spot on.

If you’ve done your market research, behaviour analysis and targeted the right opportunities then every potential customer who lands in your pitch-pile deserves plenty of time, attention and focus.

You’ve earned the right to pitch, don’t mess it up.

How to Close Sales: Strategy

A sales team is nothing without a strategy.

Management and tracking is just as important as picking the phone up.

Go at it like a bull in a china shop and you’re not going to know what worked, what didn’t and why. All of which are huge catalysts to growth and continued success with your approach.

Create a sales strategy, stick to it, adapt it when you spot holes and don’t be afraid to start again.

The key ingredients to your strategy are:

  • Budget & Resources
  • Customer Identification
  • Customer Personas
  • Buyer Behaviour & Journey
  • Collateral
  • Process
  • Evolution

Identify What Resources & Budget You Need

Sales do not come free, at least, not often.

Depending on where you are based, your market and your budgets the strategy you create could be entirely different from a similar company.

Whether you utilise tactics like cold calling, leaflet drops, SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, lead buying and many others are completely dependant on your budgets.

Identify what money, if any, you have at your disposal and then start to align that budget to where you’ll get the best bang for your buck.

For the majority of businesses we work with, buying in leads, SEO and PPC are the channels that create the strategy for different reasons.

Buying leads is easy, give someone some money and they provide you a potential customer. It’s available in most industries and can usually be set up very quickly.

SEO is a longer term strategy that when combined with short wins like PPC and lead buying dovetails well.

Search Engine Optimisation generally creates customers far cheaper than any other marketing channel, but there is some risk/reward associated through the time it takes to get there, typically several months and the costs of which can be high if you’re in a competitive market.

 

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You’ll know your market better than any third party like us can advise, so start with where you think the money is and go from there.

Focus on the leads that have the value, those that are the cream at the top of the pile, like Glengarry Ross said, always be closing:

If you haven’t watched the video above, I suggest you find the time.

Find those little golden nuggets in your industry and focus on it.

Or better yet, copy someone else who has spent several years working it out!

Customer Identification and Personas

It’s hugely important to understand who your customers are before you try and target them.

This is much easier in the B2C market as usually you have a direct relationship with each customer, you can view there details through your platforms and come up with a target market very quickly if you don’t already know it.

But for businesses it’s usually harder.

For example, our SEO services. Our target market is usually businesses over £3m turnover with a marketing department or manager internally, located within 50 miles of one of our offices who understands the advantages and disadvantages of SEO.

This enables us to filter out companies we call, email and buy leads for, quickly.

Many people starting in sales start very broad, assuming that the bigger net they have the more customers will get stuck in it.

In reality it’s better to fish with a small net in the right spot for 2 minutes than have a huge net in the wrong place for days.

Buyer Behaviour and Journey

Understanding who your customers are is only half the job, next you need to understand their journey and where you can attract them.

For the majority of sales we do, the practices themselves give us the upper hand. I.e. SEO.

We perfect SEO so that when a potential customer searches for their query, we’re there, on hand to provide the answer.

Remind me how you found this page again.

how to close more sales

But in the majority of other channels you have to pick and choose when, where and how you target those customers.

This can be real basics, like for email marketing, the best time of day to target people is around 2pm.

Apparently this is the time when most people are at their peak during the day and more likely to open and engage with your email.

Tuesday is also considered the best day to send those emails, closely followed by Thursdays.

How to Close Sales: Collateral

Once you’ve considered how you’re going to get your customers and where they’re hanging out you need to create the materials needed to achieve those ends.

Your collateral maybe a slick web design, some incredible leaflets, text messages, PPC advertising or whatever you’ve decided would suit you best.

You’ll need to review you current materials and work out if they suit your newly identified customer base.

If they do, happy days. If not you’ll need to go through the process of fixing and tailoring your collateral to suit the market you’re targeting.

Review Your Sales Process

Next, with your sparkly new glossy brochures, you’ll be looking at exactly how to deal with these customers once they start coming through the door.

Remember, generating the customers is the hard bit.

But no you’ve got to keep them.

The sales process will start to identify what sort of customer they are going to be and how they will judge your successes and failings over the next few months or years.

To start, we suggest using a tool like Hubspot to manage different buckets of potential clients.

sales funnels - hubspot

Once you have this set up correctly you can start to analyse your customer stages, how each are progressing and where any problems are arising.

Then, once people get to the end of the the funnels on Hubspot, you need to create a separate process-map to onboard your new clients.

This is where it gets more complicated and it will be completely different to each business.

As an example we have a process for auditing websites, content mapping, scheduling and creating the resources we need around each new SEO client.

You’ll know yours better but the easiest way is to go through each step, create a flow chart and then work out each element in each step.

For example, our SEO audit has a list of 200 different elements that need to be checked, ticked off and built before a client can move on to the next stage.

The more time you put in to learning and then educating your team to manage the process, the better it will be for the customers you put in the funnel.

 

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Evolve Your Strategy

If you’re like me, you’re always looking to improve and move on to the next level, my mantra is:

“Too much is never enough”

Although it was coined from a famous musician, it’s one that I like to lead my life by.

I’m always on the lookout for the next improvement, the next venture or next thing to test.

Your sales strategy should be no different.

Grow, learn and continue changing and improving your strategy based on your findings.

Something isn’t working? Drop it.

Something is smashing it, put as many eggs in that basket as possible.

An example of that is Google’s latent semantic indexing filter, for us it’s been a huge breakthrough and has enabled us to create pages (like this) that will start to rank for all manner of sales related search terms.

Your industry will be no different, find the next thing and be the first to try it.

Typical Cold Sales Techniques

Now we’re getting in to the nitty gritty of how to close sales.

Closing techniques work, though they change in pretty much every industry the theory behind each is fundamental to its success.

Here’s a few that we’ve seen work astronomically well.

The ‘Now or Never’ Close

The old faithful now or never close works in every market.

“This is a once only price”

“There’s a 10% discount for the next hour only”

“I can fast-track you through the process if you go ahead now”

Creating a sense of urgency works, it encourages potential customers to make a decision.

The Summary Close

The summary close works in a slightly different way, it stresses the benefits and offers a no-end answer opportunity for the customer, it helps people visualise the offering and softly pushes them to make a decision.

An example of a summary close would be:

“So you’ve got the ultra link building package, we’re creating 3 pieces of incredible content each month and we’re going to let you off our normal set up fees, do you want to start today or tomorrow?”

Question Closes

The last of the most common techniques for closing sales that we’ve seen doing well is the question close.

Not only does it allow you to cover-off any objections the client may have but it offers the opportunity to close it there and then.

If the close doesn’t happen, it will present more information that enables you to move on and handle the information in a non-cold fashion.

An example of a solid closing question would be:

“Is there any reason why we can’t go ahead with your SEO campaign today?”

Best Closing Phrases

There’s a great resource for closing phrases over at Hubspot’s blog, but we’ve stripped out some of our favourites:

If we gave you [product] at [price] today, is there any reason you couldn’t go ahead?

So, when can we get started?

Do you want our help?

If we throw in [freebie] is that going to help get us working together?

If we get started today, I’ll personally [insert guarantee] for you, how does that sound?

These all work in different situations, you’ll find yourself being able to handle most rebuttals with one of the above.


Now we’ve gone through some of the basic theories behind closing sales, let’s start looking at some actionable insight.

Find the Decision Maker

Our friends over at Who Is Visiting summed this up perfectly:

You need to find out the decision maker and where possible, speak with them directly. There is no point handling objections through a third party. Get the organ grinder on the phone!

Though we couldn’t say it better ourself, we will add something.

It may seem a strange endeavour to spend your days prospecting, finding that right person to talk to and then getting a gatekeeper on your first attempt. Don’t be tempted to give them the sales spiel, wait, you’ll get your chance.

Phone a Friend

Referrals from other customers is the best way to generate solid leads and customers.

Research by Forrester in the US shows that bad customer service has a far more weighted negative impact than positive behaviour.

how to close a sale online

Basically, rattled customers tell lots of people.

Happy customers tell one or two, usually only when prompted.

Use your happy customers to get more and try to appease as many of the customers you lose (it will happen).

This will in turn and over time create a solid referral network for your services.

How to Close Sales: Timing is Everything

Knowing when to listen and when to talk to a potential customer is an art form.

Bad sales people continue to talk, even when they have said everything, covering old ground and bombarding the customer with information, trying to force them in to a sale.

In reality, you’re only going to sell to those who want to be sold to in this manner.

Educate a client in basic terms, make it very simple and sell the sizzle not the bacon.

Try The Trial Close

The trial close is widely considered the only way to get 100% close rate.

It’s covered more in depth here, but heres the basics:

Trial closing achieves two, highly important parts of closing sales.

Firstly it tells you where in the sales process the customer is (or isn’t).

Secondly, it tells you when you can ask for a sale.

Trial closing isn’t the same as asking for a sale. Asking for a sale could be something like:

“If I can get those payment terms signed off will you start today”

Whereas as trial closing would be something more along the lines of:

“These payment terms, how do you feel about them?”

It gives you a non-argumentative answer and opens the door to rebuff any issues the client may have.

Asking for a sale gives the client the option to walk away, keeping their opinions to them self.

Trial closing is hugely important and offers you the ability to build trust, rather than pushing for a sale.

Objection Handling

In all industries objection handling as part of the sales process is going to happen.

Learning to deal with these objections can turn a bad call in to a good one at the drop of a hat.

Follow these 6 easy steps and you’ll soon be an objection handling pro:

  • Listen fully to the objection before attempting to handle it – don’t jump in, it’s rude.
  • Repeat it back to the potential customer during your response – it shows that you’re listening and ensures it’s 100% correct.
  • Explore the reasons behind the objection – people don’t always tell you the whole story,  a lack of money may be the real reason, ensure the objection is accurate and well founded.
  • Answer the objection – put together everything they’ve told you in to a clear and positive spinning answer.
  • Ask if thats a good enough reply – make sure you’ve handled it completely.
  • Change the conversation – take the prospect away from the objection as quickly as possible.

These objection handling objections will have you closing more deals than ever and as importantly they’ll endear you to the prospect.

The Benjamin Franklin Close

Most sales people, the world over know of the Benjamin Franklin close, it will go down in history as one of the most useful tools in a salesman box of tricks

Essentially the BF close comes at the point when a prospect decides to go away and ‘think it over’.

You do need to use your brain here though, don’t waste time on those that are ‘thinking it over’ because they want an easy escape and are never going to convert and that is never going to help close sales.

Focus only on those that are honestly wanting time to digest or have other options.

 

At that point, and only that point, you hit them with the BF close.

Ask Mr Bloggs if he has just 2 more minutes to go through something that “he’ll find incredibly helpful”.

Whip out a piece of paper or screen share document if you have one of those fancy ‘computery things’.

Draw a line right down the middle and tell him to list all the reasons to not go ahead today.

Ten go through the positives.benjamin franklin sales close

Plot these on opposite sides of the line and then go through it at the end.

Often, this visualisation of the pro’s and con’s is enough to push that specific type of prospect over the edge.

If it doesn’t, send them the document and they can have it to hand.

How to Close a Sale Over the Phone

If you’re like me, the majority of your deals are closed over the phone, but the process can be a bit of a beast to handle.

Once you have your systems, processes and collateral all to hand, the close should be in sight.

The one hurdle left to jump is the lack of human interaction and the ease of brining up objections when not face to face, luckily we’ve come up with this 9-step guide to close sales over the phone:

  • Set an agenda – At the very beginning of the call set an agenda or result you’d like to achieve, something along the lines of “the goal of this call is get you start with SEO today”.
  • Introduce everyone – Everyone, especially at your side should introduce themselves with name, title and individual objectives and reasons for them being part of the call.
  • Build a rapport in 2 minutes – Spend a small amount of time being friendly, but remember there is probably a reason you’re not meeting face to face so get on with business.
  • Open with a question – Start with a generic question like “so, where do we stand at the moment with x” this gets the conversation flowing, let them talk, sit back and listen.
  • Establish a timeline – Go through the time it will take to establish the product/relationship you’re trying to form.
  • Handle objections – Usually, a closing call is when objections like price, timing and competitors come in to play. Be prepared to handle these questions.
  • Negotiate on price – Before you go in to a closing call, always have a threshold for price in mind, you should’t need to go away and think it through, you might lose it in that time.
  • Review the process – If you have extensive procurement or sales processes you should review the next steps and items needing to be action before starting.
  • Start – Set up and sign the contracts. At the end of the call, reiterate the terms, starting dates and confirm a date to get the signed agreements back.

Once you’ve dealt with several closes over the phone it will become second nature, some of the most successful business people of all time handled their biggest deals solely over the phone.

Sell Your Value, not Your Product

If I approached you as a potential customer with this pitch, what would you think:

“So, I’ve done my research and I think a budget of £200 p/m is needed to get you ranking where you want to be. For that we’ll be doing ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’. What do you reckon?”

Not bad, and probably what a lot of SEO companies use today. You’re selling the product when in reality you need to sell the benefits, like this:

“So, I’ve done my research and for £200 p/m we can catch up that competitor and probably over take him on rankings, we’d also expect your traffic to go up by ‘x’ and leads to improve by ‘y’. How does that sound?”

Sell the benefits of your product.

Under Promise & Over Deliver

A key part to long-term sales is to never over promise and under deliver.

As we mentioned earlier, a p’d off customer is going to tell dozens of others, ruining your reputation.

This only needs to happen a few times a year and you’ve lost 50 potential customers in your region alone.

Under promise results, over deliver and your customers will get you more customers.

If your numbers are telling you that you can generate 150 abc’s for the clients budget, but delivering 100 is enough to get the job, tell them it will be 100 you’re targeting.

When you deliver 100, you will be held in high regard.

And can probably charge more to get to 150 regularly.

Keep Your Friends Close, but…

An old saying, but in sales it has never been more true.

We’re big believers in starting a project by learning what the market leader is doing and taking their approach as volume 1.

Grow on top of an already successful strategy and you’ll be in a much better position, you’ll learn quicker, lose less time and money getting to where you need to be faster.


I hope this has helped you in some way, shape or form.

The key to how to close sales is evolution, learn what works as fast as possible, then focus on it.

 

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