Most small business owners I talk to are not trying to win sales awards.  Sales is an aspect of business that tends to be seen as a necessary evil.  Very often, it is a skill learned on the fly.  And, more often than not, it is a task that comes with discomfort and uncertainty.  The reality is that sales happens all the time in life and business, and it is really the close that has most people flustered.  Today, we are going to cover 9 ways to close a sale, giving you some options that may help for your own business.

First, let’s remember that there are many parts of the sales process.  Marketing is the first step.  Marketing involves putting your message out there consistently.  It is a pitch that primes and warms your leads until they are ready to buy.  Anytime you tell someone about what you do, you are selling.  And there are many ways to be authentic and interesting about that (read here for ideas).

In the marketing process, it is usually a good strategy to guide your leads to other marketing materials.  The more time those leads spend looking at or thinking about your business, the more likely they are to remember your message and eventually want to buy from you.  One way we guide leads to our various marketing tools is by using a call to action.  “Read here.” “Learn more.” “Download this free gift.”  “Call today for a free consult.”  These are all examples of calls to action.  And every call to action is a mini-close.  Although money might not be exchanged in these cases, you are continuing to prime the lead to become more invested.

But the conversation might feel different to you when you know you are about to try to close a sale.  In the nonprofit world, this is called “making the ask.”  It might feel like you are putting your hand out.  In truth, your hand has been out since you started marketing!  If you were able to find ways to feel authentic about the rest of the marketing and sales process, why not the close?

There are many options for how to close a sale.  Here are 9 ways to close a sale for your business:

  • Soliciting Objections – This can be a close or a step on the way to a close. If you have not had quite enough interaction with your lead along the way, and you think there could be surprises in store when you try to get them to commit, why not ask them?  “In your opinion, would this solve the problem?”  Whatever answer you get gives you more information to further customize the deal or to close it altogether.
  • Conditional Close – If someone is asking you for multiple modifications or upgrades, you can use this type of close. “If I can make that adjustment, do we have a deal?”  You can use the words that feel right to you, but the idea is that you are only checking into or agreeing to make this special arrangement for the lead because they are going to make the purchase as a result.  This technique is especially helpful if someone is haggling with you.
  • Balance Sheet Close – This can be done a couple of ways. You can run through the pros and cons list with your lead, which works better if you are pretty sure the pros list is longer.  Alternatively, you can have them run through all of their initial criteria and remind them that your offering fulfills the whole list.  This usually leads to a direct close.
  • Indirect Close – This is a version of #1, but assumes you are a little farther along and are not likely to unearth as many objections. It involves a simple, “What do you think?” or “How does that sound?”  Then be silent and wait for the answer.
  • Assumptive or Positive Choice Close – Give your lead a choice of minor options, knowing that the sale is assumed and this is the final decision to make. You’ll see the “Do you want the red or the blue one?” example cited frequently for this.  However, I personally like to use this when posing a decision to a committee of people.  Instead of saying, “What kind of centerpiece should we have on the table,” I would rather show them pictures of two or three centerpieces that I already know will work and ask them to pick their favorite.  A slightly different application, but it gets good results.
  • The Incentive Close – Throw in something special if they close now.
  • Pressure Close – If there is competition for the product or your offering is scarce, you can encourage the lead to make a quicker decision by letting them know the time limit attached. This could rush them to buy or could be the reason they walk away if they have just been window-shopping, so be attentive to the signals they are giving you.
  • Handover Close – You might go to ask a question to a manager or partner. You might bring in someone else of equal or higher status to talk to the customer directly and finalize the details.  The point is, you are bringing someone new into the equation and taking that person’s time and attention under the assumption that the lead is serious and about to buy.
  • Direct Close – If you feel confident that you have addressed the objections and will get an affirmative answer, go ahead and ask a closed-ended question. “Are you ready to buy this?”  You’ll often hear this in a store when you are at the cash register with the product in hand, and there is a reason for that.  Because of the closed end to this question, a “No” is a little harder to bounce back from since you have not invited the lead to give you more information.  A yes, however, is your chance to start processing the transaction.

As with the process of marketing, the process of sales is something that can feel authentic to you and your customer.  It is about focusing on your lead, taking cues from how they are communicating with you, and nudging them along if your offering is the right fit.  Although a lot of business owners feel discomfort around closing a sale, there are many ways to do it to adapt to your customer.  I hope this list of 9 ways to close a sale gives you some ideas that feel right for you.

And, remember – a big part of the sales process is listening to your customer and understanding that there are different buyer profiles.  People make purchasing decisions in different ways, and understanding the four social styles can help you adapt your approach.  Click here to read up on the four different social styles for buyers.