It happens to the best of us. You’re closing a deal, the customer’s all in, and everything’s going great. But when you finally get to the sale the prospect politely declines and walks away. What happened?
The issue might lie in your technique. Asking “would you” or “will you,” for instance, provides holes for the prospect to escape through, leaving you high and dry.
Embracing the assumptive close technique should fill those gaps and enable you to convert more prospects into sales. Lucky for you, this guide lays out all you need to know about assumptive closing and how integrating it into your sales process can drive business growth.
What is the Assumptive Close Technique?
The assumptive close technique is a sales tactic in which the sales rep phrases the closing as if the potential customer has already agreed to buy. It’s most common in retail and B2C sales.
The sale close is, of course, the make-or-break moment – either the prospect commits or declines. During your sales pitch, you should’ve already gone into the prospect’s needs and how your product can solve them.
If the potential customer had concerns about the product, the pricing, or their buying authority, they should have already mentioned them during the negotiation, and you should have already allayed them.
Simply reaching the closing stage means that the prospect has little reason to say no. Yet sometimes they do just that, if given the chance. With assumptive closing, a sales rep aims to keep the momentum going by eliminating any ambiguity, giving prospects no chance to block the sale.
Pros and Cons of the Assumptive Close Technique
An assumed closing strategy is undeniably aggressive, which makes it a real risk. However, every risk has pros and cons to weigh. Let’s take a closer look.
- Increases share of closed sales
- Maintains control of the conversation
- Takes pressure off the client to think of the next step
- Keeps the conversation positive and upbeat
- Makes the sales rep seem highly aggressive
- Risks eroding prospect’s trust
- Could force prospect into a sale they’ll regret
How to Do an Assumptive Close
An assumptive close can have one or two parts depending on the strength of the connection your sales professional has built with the prospect.
Two-Step Assumptive Close
The two-step assumptive close technique is best for retail stores and faster transactions in which the sales rep has less time to build a rapport.
A normal longer B2B sales pitch includes a value proposition where a sales rep explains why their product solves the prospect’s pain point, meets their needs, or benefits them in some way to persuade them to buy the product. But because you don’t have the time for an in-depth conversation in a shorter transaction, you’ll have to work your value offering directly into the closing.
As such, the two-step assumptive close starts by making clear how the product brings value to the potential customer or by complimenting the prospect for their wisdom in coming to the right place.
The second step is to ask a question that assumes the customer has already confirmed the deal.
This question is usually about payment, delivery, or add-on options, such as “Would you like a few pairs of colorful socks to go along with your new shoes?”
For example, let’s say a customer walks into your smoothie store. You might use a two-step assumptive close like this:
Our smoothies are full of natural antioxidants and superfoods that boost health, so you’ve done your body a favor just coming here. Would you prefer whole milk or almond milk as your base?
First, you made the prospect feel like it would be a bad idea NOT to make a purchase, then you got them thinking about minor details regarding the purchase rather than whether it’s the right move.
One-Step Assumptive Close
On the other hand, if you’re selling larger products that require a lengthier discussion, the customer will likely be well-educated about your product and its value by the time you get to the closing stage. Thus, you can move straight to the assumptive question.
If you run a mattress store, you can’t assume off the bat that any mattress in the store would be a good fit for the customer that just walked in. But as you show them around, you should be explaining the benefits of each mattress and honing in on their preferences in terms of firmness, headboard, and so on.
By the time the customer has found their ideal mattress, they should already know your value proposition and you can move straight to an assumptive close: “So, what day and time would you like your new mattress delivered and installed?”
Again, this approach assumes the client is all-in on the purchase and only needs to decide on relatively minor details.
When Should I Use the Assumptive Close Technique?
When is it best to use an assumptive close? That’s a good question.
First and foremost, the prospect should have a clear and strong interest in your offering. A retail store sales rep could assume this from the prospect walking into the shop or staring at a specific product. Meanwhile, B2B sales reps can gauge prospects’ interest based on how invested they are in the discussion during the negotiation phase.
If you try the assumptive close technique on a prospect who’s genuinely not interested, they’ll likely walk away. It should only be used when the sale is near a close. If it’s attempted too early, the sales rep could bulldoze over valid objections, destroying any trust that may have been building.
Also, the assumptive approach should only be used if the sales rep feels they’ve learned enough about the customer. And there’s no one-size-fits-all assumptive close – it should be personalized for each potential customer.
But it does help to listen closely to the prospect. If the potential customer mentions that they’re never home on Fridays, for instance, you could use that bit of info in your assumptive close: “I know you’re not home on Fridays, so when would be a good time to receive delivery of the product?”
Saying something like “Will you pay by cash or card?” might be the most common assumptive close and work in some situations, but it’s important to not make your assumptive question seem out-of-the-blue. The assumptive close should fit naturally into the conversation.
Tips For Using the Assumptive Close Technique
Here are some more tips to get the best out of the assumptive close technique.
1. Give your client options
The assumptive close is aggressive, but it can still leave some wiggle room. After all, the goal is not to force prospects into making a purchase. It’s best to give them options to choose from or a chance to express their vision of the purchase and post-sale implementation.
Rather than “We accept payments by cash or card,” for instance, it’s better to ask “Would you prefer to pay by cash or card?” This way, the client is given a measure of control.
2. Repeat back information you learned from them
As a lead into your assumptive close, let consumers know you’ve been listening to them by repeating back information you learned earlier in your conversation. This works best for longer sales conversations.
Think of the example above, regarding the client who’s out on Fridays. Or let’s say you’ve got a prospective SUV-buyer who early in the conversation mentioned their love of skiing. In your assumptive close question you might say: “I know you spend time up in the mountains in winter, so would you like to add snow chains to your purchase today?”
3. Phrase it as a “you” statement, not an “I”
Your sales pitch should come from a place of empathy and desire to solve your potential buyer’s pain point, not from a place of greed. Keeping their needs and interests at the forefront makes it easier to anticipate objections and address them in a way that is reassuring.
Pay attention to the way you phrase your closing: is it full of “I” statements or “you” statements? Try to make it a “you” statement to frame the close around the customer’s vision.
For example, you’re more likely to see success with “Are you able to sign and return this contract by Tuesday?” than you are with “When can I expect a signed contract?”
4. Be assertive
It can be disconcerting to hear an aggressive sales technique from a rep that’s been passive up to that point. Thus, an assumptive close should only be used by reps with a certain level of assertiveness throughout the interaction. The last thing you want is to scare the prospect away!
Some tips to make your body language more assertive are to make direct eye contact, stand up straight, and keep your shoulders back. Your posture should be relaxed and open, yet confident and strong.
Personality-wise, your sales rep should stay positive and high-energy, and truly believe in the value of the product they’re selling.
An excellent and well-timed assumptive close question can push a prospect across the finish line, but when not done right it risks driving away a potential customer. So be sure to take your time and work with your sales team to make sure they understand the technique, as well as when and how to use it.
Leveraged correctly, the assumptive close can be a powerful weapon in your sales arsenal and a key to your business success.
Assumptive Close Technique FAQs
What are the benefits of using the assumptive close technique?
An assumptive close saves time with potential clients you’re fairly sure will purchase, letting your sales rep close more sales. If the sales conversation has been going well it keeps the ball rolling, and it gives one last push to prospects who might get cold feet at the last minute.
What are the potential drawbacks of using the assumptive close technique?
If implemented at a bad time, an assumptive close might make the potential customer feel pressured and they might reject the sale. If they had objections your sales rep didn’t address, any momentum is lost as the prospect circles back to the negotiation phase. Finally, if the prospect was pushed into a sale they didn’t want, they might leave an awful review and damage your company’s reputation.
What are some alternatives to the assumptive close technique that I can use instead?
Some hard close techniques are the takeaway close, where the deal is framed as a limited time offer, or the walk away close where you pretend to walk away from a deal to call someone’s bluff.
Some soft close techniques you could use are the Ben Franklin close where you help the prospect build a list of pros and cons for the offering and the empathy close where you empathize with the prospect’s indecision and give them time to come to the buying decision on their own.
How do I bounce back from a rebuked assumptive close?
If your potential customer returns your assumptive close with a “Wait, I didn’t say I’d purchase yet,” there’s no need to panic – this is an opportunity to dig a little deeper into their objections. Apologize for the misunderstanding, describe what led you to believe that they were ready to close, and ask what’s holding them back.