Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Closing the sale is what separates the average from the extraordinary businessperson. Top dealmakers and members of The Oracles share their proven strategies for closing your next big sale.
1. Make eye contact and make them laugh.
Closing isn’t about luck. Too many people believe that selling is just a numbers game, based on how many people you get in front of. That’s a lie; closing is something you can control.
First, always make eye contact. Most of today’s global population doesn’t make eye contact. Don’t believe me? Walk into a coffee shop and say “hello” to someone. If you want your prospect to trust you, it’s vital you make eye contact.
Second, use humor to relieve pressure. Everyone loves a good story. If yours contains humor, people will relax. Any humor that makes people feel good, inspired, or hopeful is always appropriate. People are more likely to make decisions when feeling less serious, rather than very serious.
The more a salesperson understands the close, the more they’ll appear professional, be believable to a client, and be rewarded for selling more. —Grant Cardone, sales expert who has built a $750 million real estate empire, and NYT-bestselling author; follow Grant on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube
2. Know your client, never assume, push limits and be prepared.
Selling isn’t just making the deal. It’s creating long-term relationships, providing a service or product that makes your customer feel special and highly valued. My proven strategies to close a sale faster include:
Know everything about the decision maker(s). Understand their likes, dislikes, and background. Learn about the associations they belong to, the charities they care about, and what’s important to them. Be methodical. (Social media will provide key insights.)
Never assume how the decision will be made. Will the decision be made by a committee or one person? Is there a chain of command? The decision-making tree can change at any time for unknown reasons. Constantly check the decision-making barometer during the sales process.
Push limits. If you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll inevitably stagnate. Take on new responsibilities or adopt an "owners mentality." Keep anticipating your boss's or client’s needs. Be open to trying new avenues and walking roads not yet traveled.
Be prepared for the decision to go either way. Anticipate every hurdle, objection or roadblock. Devise responses to keep you moving forward. I always tell my children—even as adults—no doesn’t necessarily mean no. Interpret the moment someone says "no" as:
“No, not now.”
“No, I'm too busy or focused on other things to consider your request.”
“No, you haven’t asked me enough to understand how much you really want this.”
“No, you haven’t politely bugged me enough to just give it to you to make you stop pushing.”
Keep politely asking until you get the result you want. A good salesperson learns how to do this with the same kind of gut instinct and finesse. —Gail Corder Fischer, executive vice chairman of Fischer & Company, a leading global corporate real estate firm that provides consulting, brokerage and technology solutions
3. Showcase your product or service with a webinar.
Before your audience parts with their money, they’ll want to know exactly how they’re going to benefit. So, define your USP (unique selling point)—how your service or product is unique in your industry—and showcase it during a live webinar.
In your webinar, highlight the problem and show how your product is the solution. Demonstrate how your product stands above the competition. Let people ask questions in real time, and answer them. This builds engagement and trust.
4. Know that no two people are the same.
No two people are alike. You’ve heard this all your life, but sometimes it’s difficult to fully grasp with sales. You’ve got to customize your pitch to relate to whomever you’re talking to. Remember, you’re not selling to a company; you’re selling to a person representing the company. Why? Individuals often let their emotions and intuitions dictate their decision making.
I’ve started utilizing face-to-face video for my introductions and proposals. I want my customers to see I’m real and relatable, that I have a vested interest in what I can do for their business.
Ultimately, you have to build trust, learn how to relate to the people you’re talking to and care about them and their business. Without those three things, you won’t be able to close, regardless of how good your pitch is. —Jason Hall, founder and CEO of FiveChannels; generated $17M+ in sales revenue for his clients in 2017
5. Make your prospect look like a rock star.
Creating a trusting relationship is the holy grail of all successful selling. Your goal should be to make your prospect look like a rock star.
Learn the client's KPIs (key performance indicators) and show how your product aligns. This comes from asking questions like, "What would make this purchase a 'win' for you and/or your company?" Listen more than you speak.
Managing expectations is also key. Prepare a plan that meets your prospect’s expectations in a “worst case” scenario. If you under-promise and over-deliver, you’ll retain them forever.
Establishing value up front is vital for subsequent deals. Be willing to give at first. Offer a sweetheart deal to get the prospect into your “ecosystem.”
In summary, closers target the right prospects, quickly build trusting relationships, and focus on delivering success for every client. Remember: promises made are promises kept. —Richard Blankenship, co-founder of ESP Gaming and senior vice president of Poker Central’s business development
6. Make a promise, then outline your process.
The burning questions in every client’s minds are: Have you successfully done this before? Could you do it again based on their special circumstances?
After generating over a billion dollars in sales, one framework that always creates traction is an appointment. This is not because it is some kind of sleazy sales technique or Jedi mind trick; rather, it truly reveals how good your product or service is and what kind of transformation it delivers for the client.
Here’s the framework. First, state a proof-oriented track record with an embedded promise. If you’re a nutrition coach, your script may look like: “Ms. Client, 100 percent of my last 47 coaching clients lost at least 19 pounds in the first six months.”
Second, show the client you have a specific process for them to follow. You could say something like, “As we implement our four-phase optimization approach, you’ll see results within the first three days. Let me walk you through it.” That secondary personal promise (results in the first three days) combined with a proven process (four-phase approach) is what creates enough confidence for the client to say, “Yes.” —Sharran Srivatsaa, angel investor and CEO of Kingston Lane, a push-button technology execution platform for real estate; grew Teles Properties 10X in five years
7. Be excited about what you have to sell.
I learned how to sell at an early age as a newspaper carrier. In college, I got a job selling insurance door-to-door, and I dove into sales. To be successful, I studied the lives and methods of W. Clement Stone, Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins. I easily exceeded 10,000 hours of face-to-face selling, and then worked in call centers for another 10 years, implementing everything I learned. Here are some of my key takeaways:
Energy is the number one thing you need to sell. Be excited! If you aren’t excited about what you’re selling, find a product you can get excited about.
Honesty and integrity build trust and create rapport. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make one up. Don’t commit to anything you’re unsure that you can execute on. Do what you say on the back-end of your conversation.
If you have follow-up answers to get, deliver them as you promised.
Also, learn how to negotiate and don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal and return later to close. When you talk about your product, make sure you build value around what the product can do for your customer.
Finally, listen. Active listening allows you to hear the customer's interest level and understand what their hesitation in buying might be so you can address it. —Craig Handley, co-founder and CEO of ListenTrust; read more about Handley: 6 Ways to Build a Billion-Dollar Sales Machine
Want to share your insights like those above in a future column? If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, please get in touch here.
Want to suggest a future topic for these entrepreneurs to answer? Email email@example.com, and it’s very possible we’ll make your suggestion the focus of a future article!
Follow The Oracles on Facebook.