The Final stage in the selling process is closing. This is the ultimate stage of the various efforts made during the previous stages of the selling process which includes prospecting, pre-approach, approach, presentation, demonstration and overcoming objectives. All these steps usually lead to a sale at the stage of close.
The ultimate objective of the selling plan is to sell products and services to the customers. Therefore, it is the final step of the selling programme.
‘Closing’ is the action on the part of the salesman to complete the sales transaction. It is nothing but ensuring the prospect’s assent to the salesman’s proposition. It is the simple and logical end to a satisfactory and successful completion of the various steps of the selling process.
Getting affirmative reply from the prospect to the selling plan of the salesman is known as ‘closing the sale’. The goal of closing the sale is to persuade the prospect to act immediately, usually in favour of the sales proposition. It aims at converting a desire into a demand by convincing the prospect in favour of purchase. Hence, this is the result of the efforts made by the salesman.
Salesman ensures in finalizing the deal, resulting in making a purchase. In the earlier stages of selling, the prospects need to be completely convinced about the benefits of the sales proposition, thereby result in the successful completion of the earlier an affirmation to the product purchase.
Importance of Close
The importance of close lies in the purpose it serves and the benefits it brings because it is the culmination point that renders one either victorious or defeatist. The importance of close is as follows: –
- Test of salesman’s ability: A salesman who closes the deal is considered effective and successful. Thus close is the test of a salesman’s ability to sell.
- Brings additional income: Firms pay commission/variable salary on the sale brought by the salesman therefore, a salesman who successfully closes his sale, gets more income.
- Cause of motivation: A successful or positive close is an achievement and acts as a powerful tool of motivation. The salesman gains confidence in himself. On the other hand, an unsuccessful close results in a salesman feeling of frustration for his efforts.
- Makes salesman extra cautious: A successful close is the result of successful prospecting pre-approach, approach, presentation and overcoming objections. Moreover, success at each stage depends upon effective contribution of its previous stage. This makes the salesman to be alert, careful and extra cautious right from the start of the selling process.
Reasons of Failure to Close
Some prominent reasons for failing to close the sales successfully are: –
1. Incorrect Attitude: Mental attitude of the salesman makes the difference between success and failure in closing the sale. If the salesman has faith and confidence in his abilities to convince a prospect to buy, he will have little difficulty in closing the sale. Selfconfidence, courage, perseverance more essential in closing.
2. Inadequate presentation: An ineffective presentation is one which takes into account the need of the prospect and the Sales person keeps in mind those needs while preparing the presentation.
3. Anticipating spontaneous reply from prospect: There are some salesmen, who consider deliberate persuasion as incorrect. At the end of the presentation most prospect need a push. Therefore the salesman sometimes needs to give a big push in order to close the sale. He should not anticipate a spontaneous order from the prospects thereby helping the prospect convert into a customer. This requires tact, presentation and experience.
In certain cases the salesman might have successfully brought the prospect to a point of closing the sale, but is unable in account of a near or dear over’s interruption resulting in withdrawal from closing the sale. Hence, a third party interference may stop the sale transaction are unable to meet their natural and logical consequence of sale.
- A Trial Close
A trial close includes questions asked by a salesman asks the prospects at the different stages of the sales talk to seek buying signals. Through this, the salesman tries to look whether the prospect is ready to buy. If the salesman gets clear signals from the prospect regarding the buying decision, the salesman need not put more efforts in persuading the prospects but otherwise the salesman has to start with his sales talk. For example, a trial close can be attempted by asking questions like, ‘Do you prefer home delivery of the Refrigerator today itself or tomorrow. ‘Here an attempt is made by the salesman to trial close the sales of refrigerator. Once the prospect says, ‘I would like to have the same delivered at my residence’ today, the sales can easily be considered as closed.
Pre-requisites for successful closing
Closing a sale is one of the important aspects for the salesman. At this stage of the selling process, the prospect is converted into a customer, the desire of the prospect is converted into an expressed demand and the indecision is converted into a specific decision. Important pre requisites for making a successful close are as follows:
1. Go for it Attitude
As the salesman and the prospect move along the various stages of the selling process, it is better on the part of the salesman to remain calm and handle the situation with enough confidence. He should always remain alert and wait for the appropriate moment to close a sale. The moment he finds that the prospect is in a favorable and receptive mood and can easily get his positive approval, he should try to close the sale.
2. Effective Presentation and Demonstration
The salesman should always try to convince the prospect through an effective presentation and demonstration. This is important because through effective demonstration and presentation only the prospect is able to know the benefits and utilities of the product. This makes the prospect think he will get his money’s worth by purchasing the product, offered for sale. As a matter of fact, the prospect should be thoroughly convinced by the sale talk of the salesman.
3. Seize Attention
To be successful salesman should always try to hold and seize the attention of the prospect towards the product. He should avoid diverting the prospect’s attention to other things. In case the prospect is mentally absent at the time of the sales talk, he should put his efforts to ensure the concentration of the prospect during the sales talk, like repeating the selling points, presenting and demonstrating again, etc , in order to hold the mental and physical attention of the prospect.
4. Permit Questions
A good salesman always encourages the prospects to ask questions about the product and tries to remove the doubts from their minds. As the prospect should not think that the sale is being forced upon him. Rather, the prospect should accept the sales proposition willingly. All queries and doubts must be removed so that the prospect accepts the product gladly and without any hesitation. The salesman, therefore, should be prepared to answer the queries of the prospect.
5. Value Prospect Decision
The salesman’s duty is to assist the prospect in taking a wise decision to ultimately buy a product by which the prospect will be benefitted. But the final decision to purchase the product is to be left entirely to the prospect and he should have the complete freedom to make the buying decision himself. The prospect at any juncture should not feel that the sale is being forced on him by the salesman.
6. Preserve Selling Points
An intelligent salesman never discloses all the selling points during the course of the sales talk itself. Rather he should keep the unique sales propositions for appropriate moments. These points are used at crucial junctures when the prospect has a dilemma regarding the purchase. These selling points can be used to convert the prospects ‘no’ into ‘yes’.
7. Strike at the Right Time
As the sales talk progresses, the salesman should watch carefully and wait for the signs of agreement or acceptance on the part of the prospect. The salesman should be extremely alert during the sales talk and try to find out the most appropriate moment when the sale can be closed as ‘psychological moment ‘or the ‘reaction towards the product and is willing to buy, he should try to close the sale immediately. At that particular point of time, the prospect’s mind and salesman’s mind are in perfect harmony with each other.
Methods of Successful Close
The method to be used will vary depending upon the product to be sold, the nature of customer and the circumstances of the sale. No method of closing will be effective if the buyer is not thoroughly convinced about the salesman, his company and the product. The objective of understanding the various types of closing is to guide, assist and help the salesman in his task of closing the sale.
The success of a particular method largely depends upon the skill with which a salesman has made use of it. Some of the methods are:
- Getting a series of affirmative answers: One of the methods of closing the sale involves asking a number of questions to ensure that the prospect gives positive answers to the questions. The objective behind this is that when the prospect says many ‘yes’ on small points, he would also say agree to purchase of the product.
- Narrowing the choice: Prospects may find it difficult to decide or choose when they are offered wide range of products especially in the case of apparels, shoes, jewellery etc. The salesman narrows down the choice by asking them to retain what they like and remove others making it easy to quickly choose from among a selected variety.
- Closing on minor points: There are some prospects who find it difficult to make major decisions. Hence, a salesman tries to get the confirmation of the buyers over minor points – color, size, brand, delivery date, payment system, etc. for example: do you like red color or white? Do you want to make cash payment or purchase on credit? When the salesman attains the consent of the prospect on smaller points, he may close the sale a later by seeking order.
- Successful business story close: Under this method the salesman provides information and testimonial of people satisfied by the purchase of such goods. The incident must be real and not unreal. They must be related to the product being offered.
- Offering inducements: In this method, salesman effectively closes his sale by offering various freebies so as to enhance the desire of the product. They may be in form of cash discounts, instalment payment system, better after-sales service, etc. This method highlights the benefits associated with purchase of product.
- Assumptive close: In this method, the salesman presumes that the prospect has decided to purchase the product. At the end of the sales presentation, the salesman places his order form before the prospect and quotes the price and brings the product.
- Complimentary close: Prospects want to be recognized for their special points. Therefore when a salesperson finds the prospects eyeing a particular product inquiring about it, he may compliment the prospect’s choice. For example: “your choice is excellent”, “It would suit you very much”. In this way, a salesperson can close a sale by complementing the prospect.
- Suggesting a smaller quantity: This method is most suitable, when the prospect is unsure regarding the quality of the product. The salesperson suggest purchase of the product in smaller quantities assuring may that he would come back to purchase more forcing the customer to think that the product must be good, otherwise, why would the salesman suggest a trial with such a confidence?
The methods are in no way exhaustive. No single method is applicable to all types prospects and situations with only one method be more suitable and successful with one prospect while it may prove a failure with another prospect under different circumstances.
However, whatever method is employed, it is necessary to emphasize here that the circumstance of the case and nature of the prospect matters.