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How to Ask for the Sale
Written by: Victoria Yu
Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.
Edited by: Sallie Middlebrook
Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.
Updated on March 26, 2023
How to Ask for the Sale
Closing a big sale can feel like reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, and you may want to throw your hands up and shout with joy! But before you do that, you should probably ask for the sale.
Asking for the sale, which doesn’t actually require a question, is the final hurdle before a deal is done. It’d be a shame to fumble the sale after coming this far, so it’s a good idea to take this last step.
To make the process as smooth as possible, this handy guide explains how to ask for the sale in a way that all but ensures a close and should put your business on the path to serious sales success.
What Does It Mean to Ask for the Sale?
So what does it mean, exactly, to ask for a sale?
Broadly speaking, “asking for the sale” means that the sales rep has reached the end of the sales script, senses the customer is ready to commit and requests a verbal confirmation. The question could be as simple as, “So could we confirm and close this sale?” But we’ll look at the question in detail below.
What asking for the sale definitely does not mean is making an abrasive request to open the conversation. If you’re looking for a hack that’ll get you a sale within a minute of first contact, good luck with that. Most customers need a bit of convincing before making a purchase.
The best hack is to write a smart, appealing sales script that highlights your value proposition.
Why is Your Closing Technique Important?
Amazon Web Services or IBM? Countless similar products means that today it’s often the customer experience that determines consumer choice, which is why it’s called the experience economy. Your product might be incredible, but people won’t buy it if they dislike your sales rep or your brand.
The way you ask for the sale is almost as important as the product itself. Your query should appeal to the customer and reflect your firm’s sterling customer service. An aggressive or uninformed offer is likely to be rejected, as will a flimsy and hesitant sales proposal.
A confident, smooth, and pleasant offer — neither passive nor aggressive — tends to make the experience more enjoyable for the customer, sharply increasing your chances of closing.
Before Closing: Preparing to Ask for the Sale
Avoid putting the cart before the horse and asking for the sale before the customer’s ready to commit.
As with all sales, the prospect should be qualified and confirmed as having the need, budget, and authority. Your sales script should detail your value proposition while helping to build trust and rapport.
One absolutely crucial element is to be sure to address all of the potential customer’s objections before moving to close. If you hit them with a close request and they respond with “I still have questions” you’ve eroded their confidence in you as a skilled professional. They may not trust you at all after that.
Seek to anticipate objections and draw them out – let the customer fully explain their concern, which gives you time to craft a response that addresses and eliminates their fears. Once the customer grasps your product and value proposition and expresses clear interest in buying, it’s time to start closing the sale.
Techniques to Ask for the Sale
There are many popular closing techniques and approaches to asking for the sale and the optimal choice will vary depending on the product or service, the skills and experience of the sales rep, the tendencies of the customer, and other factors.
Most assessments break the options down into two classes of closing techniques: hard closes that expect an immediate response; and soft closes that gently encourage the customer to make their way to confirmation. Below we detail three from each category.
Hard Close Techniques
Among the most commonly used hard close techniques are the direct close, the urgency close, and the walk away close. These methods are borderline aggressive, so it’s best to reserve them for more desperate times, such as after softer techniques failed.
1. The Direct Close
The harshest of hard closes, the direct close baldly asks for a yes or no. This method should be used sparingly, reserved for prospects who show clear interest then endlessly dither on minor details.
Sales reps often work on commission and need to make sales to make a living. Thus, spending a great deal of time on a prospect who ends up walking away is deeply problematic. This is where the direct close comes into play – letting the customer know that it’s time to make a choice.
Some questions that could work as a direct close:
- “So, we’ve gone over all the details. Will you buy this today?”
- “If you had everything you’re asking for, would you be able to make this purchase?”
- “It sounds like you have a lot of concerns. Will you be able to make a final decision today?”
2. The Urgency Close
The urgency close, meanwhile, plays on the prospect’s fear of missing out: if the buyer chooses not to make the purchase, they might never have this opportunity again. The sales rep raises this fear by tying their offer to a special discount or time or inventory limit.
The idea is to create a sense of urgency that prods the prospect to act. This technique is best for customers who plan to “think about it and get back to you”. In most cases, they never will. But setting a clear deadline or limit could spur them to make a decision on the spot.
Even if it’s a “no,” it’s better to know now than to continue spending time and effort on a bad prospect.
Some examples of an urgency close:
- “We’re offering this product at a special 20% off until tomorrow. This is a one-time deal.”
- “Buy now and we’ll include free delivery and installation.”
- “We only have two more in stock and I’m meeting several interested clients today.”
3. The Walk Away Close
The walk away close takes the urgency close a step further, with the sales rep threatening to take the entire deal off the table by walking away. If the potential buyer has been hemming and hawing, this move aims to call their bluff and force them to make a decision.
Before making a pitch, sales reps should know exactly how much they’re able to concede. If the prospect asks for too much or just seems like a bad fit, threatening to end talks can put the rep back in control of the conversation. They can then work to efficiently steer it toward a satisfying closing.
Of course, this move only works if the rep and the company are able to follow through on the threat. Make sure you have other potential buyers in line before your reps threaten to walk away from a deal, which will likely end any chance of that prospect making a purchase in the future.
These could work for a walk away close:
- “It seems like we can’t come to an agreement on this deal. As much as I’d love to sell you this product, I don’t want to waste any more of your time.”
- “Unfortunately, I’m unable to offer any further discount. If it’s that big of an issue for you, maybe it’s best if we shelve this conversation until you’ve got more of a budget.”
Soft Close Techniques
Soft close techniques generally avoid words like “sale” and “buy” and embrace open-ended questions in an effort to gently guide potential buyers to close.
1. The Assumptive Close
The assumptive close aims to neatly dodge a high-tension moment by acting as if the customer has already agreed to buy. Rather than asking about the sale itself, the sales rep asks about the order details or payment.
This is best for sales that are already going swimmingly: the customer is clearly interested and the sales rep has built enough rapport to casually move the conversation to post-closing details.
Here are some examples of an assumptive close:
- “What day and time will you be able to receive delivery?”
- “I know you spend time in the mountains in winter, so would you like to add snow chains to your purchase?”
- “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?”
2. The Summary Close
In the summary close, the sales rep reiterates all the features and benefits of the product before asking for the sale. If the sales discussion has run long, the customer might have forgotten some key product details.
In such cases, a brief summary could bring some key benefits to the fore and remind the prospect why they’re so interested. A summary close usually goes something like this:
- “So we’ve established that this fern’s sunlight requirements fit perfectly with your home office and that if you buy now you’ll save $20. Would you like to go with this fern?”
- “Our CRM is accessible through the cloud for sales on the go and can manage up to 100 users and one million customer profiles, growing as your company does. If you’re ready to move forward with your purchase, we can begin implementation today.”
3. The Alternative Close
The alternative close offers the prospect two options in an attempt to get commitment on one of them. Like the summary close, this is best for sales that have run so long that the prospect might have forgotten some parts of the discussion.
Offering two alternatives distills everything down to a simple binary for the prospect: either I choose this or that. Alternative close questions might look like this:
- “Would you prefer to pay by cash or card?”
- “Would you like the blue or green model?”
Tips to Ask for the Sale
Beyond the above, a few other moves can further increase your chances of getting to a “yes”.
1. Pick a good time and place
Especially with large B2B sales that are big investments, your potential client will want to be at their mental best when making their decision. Pick a time and method of communication likely to put them at ease when you ask for the final decision.
If you know the client has endless meetings on Mondays, for instance, aim for later in the week. And if you usually communicate over the phone, it’s probably not a good idea to switch to email for the close, especially since it gives them room to ignore you.
You might even go one step further and show additional respect by suggesting an in-person meeting.
2. Stay positive
It’s human nature to hesitate when making a big decision, so as you get closer to the big moment, your potential client may have some nerves.
This means the sales rep needs to be confident and show the prospect there’s nothing to be afraid of. Confidence is contagious, so it’s important for sales reps to speak with assurance and provide positive feedback as they near the close.
3. Choose your words carefully
When you’re asking for the sale, don’t beat around the bush: use clear and direct language that leaves no room for misinterpretation. The alternative is that the customer misunderstands your offer and then, once the real offer has been made clear, is upset and loses all trust in you.
Avoid pushing a prospect to close solely based on price; need is a much more powerful determinant.
Use words that emphasize your product’s benefits, such as “because” to highlight benefits, “save/free” to underscore value, and “now” to suggest urgency. Pitch the solution, not your product.
3. Be prepared for rejection
It’s not just sales reps who can walk away. Customers also have a walk away point: when they realize your product doesn’t align with their needs. Not every prospect works out, so don’t get too hung up over a single failed sale.
Instead, have a simple script ready for when a prospect decides they’re not interested. Thank them for their time and move on. But save their information and follow up later to see if their needs have changed in your favor.
4. Proactively pursue the close
Finally, a pro tip that should be obvious: actively pursuing the close leads to more sales. Instead of endlessly repeating the value proposition, when the time feels right, it’s best to just come out and ask if the customer is ready to buy.
Waiting for the customer to confirm their purchase often wastes valuable time that could be spent upselling or selling to other customers. Plus, the customer might be shy and waiting for the rep to bring up the sale. If you don’t initiate the closing, they might get bored and walk away.
It’s the salesperson’s job to make the sale, and they need to be willing to go and get it.
There’s no one-size-fits-all closing technique, but rather a whole slew of reasonable options for different sales situations. The best approach is to make sure your sales reps are trained on all the most common techniques and when to use them.
Asking the right closing questions at the right time will mean happier clients, more sales, and greater success.
Knowing how to efficiently and effectively ask for the sale means that you close more deals overall, generating more revenue for your business. If you fumble your closing question, you could lose the prospect and sale forever.
A common mistake during the closing process is being too aggressive or too passive, which can turn off potential buyers. Another is asking for the sale too early when the customer still has questions or doesn’t fully understand your value proposition. Finally, if you haven’t built up enough trust with the client, they won’t buy from you no matter how appealing you make your product sound.
Three hard close techniques you can use to ask for the sale are the direct close, the urgency close, and the walk away close. Three soft close techniques you can use are the assumptive close, the summary close, and the alternative close.
Before you close a sale, you have to overcome your prospect’s concerns and objections first. To do that, first listen to and acknowledge their concern. Then, explore potential solutions and look for deeper concerns or issues. Finally, give an appropriate response that allays the prospect’s concerns, highlighting how your product solves their pain point.
For example, let’s say the customer objects by saying they can get your product for cheaper from a competitor. Here’s a reasonable response: “I understand that you can get a similar product at a lower price from [competitor]. It seems that price is a key concern for you. But compared to [competitor], our product has features that will help you save money in the long run by…”
Before you even think of closing a sale, vet the customer and pitch the product. First, you should qualify your prospect and ensure that they have the budget, authority, and timely need for your product. Then, walk them through your product’s value proposition and handle any objections they have. If they’re still showing interest in your offer after all this, then you can be sure that they’re ready to make a purchase.
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