September 4th, 2018 | by
8 min read

First things first: People buy from people first, product second, according to Director of Sales Steve Wernke. They want to feel good about who they’re buying from, and they want to walk away feeling good. As they negotiate, they want to feel like they won.

So how can you make sure your customer-to-be wins – and feels like they won – while winning business yourself? Here’s how to manage so much winning, with nine tips from our top sales closers.

1. The Rule of Three

Wernke likes to use the Rule of 3. To make customers feel good about the sale, throw in three pieces of value, in this order:

  1. additional support
  2. additional product and services
  3. price discount

The line items you throw in may differ depending on your offering – but the price discount should always be last.

One of the main concerns about price … isn’t actually price. When people are asking for discounts, Wernke says, they’re asking if what they’re buying is going to be successful. Price is relative. They don’t want a product that’s going to sit on the shelf. They want to maximize ROI, which is price relative to the value they get out of the product.

“Don’t jump to discounts right away – then it becomes a price-based purchase, not value-based. We need to revert to value-based appeal. If you lead with price, you become a price-based purchase.

“So any discounts should be last. At that point, they should be smaller because, your customer has already gotten some concessions,” Wernke says. “What can you give away to make them feel good, but not screw yourself?”

At that point, you can start looking for a pen and the dotted line.

2. Being OK with Walking Away

Russell Van Leuven, our Senior Director of Sales, suggests being comfortable saying no and walking away, but it requires confidence to pull it off.

b2b sales techniques“Closing should be a win for both sides. If you are talking to a CEO or the actual decision maker, saying no and walking away can have a tremendous impact.”

“It has roots in human behavior and psychology. The sales professional tells their prospect that after all of their discussion, even though they had initially appeared to be a great fit, the salesperson might have misread and seem to be speaking two different languages.

“If you’ve done your job well, the prospect knows they are a good fit. If you say they aren’t, they’ll tell you why they are. No one likes to be told that they can’t have something, regardless of what it is. And if they are a CEO or the decision maker, they have the power to make it happen.”

“It is difficult for most salespeople to even entertain walking away unless they have a fat pipeline and are consistently killing it. They will bend over backward, risking their reputation and political capital, all in the name of getting a lopsided deal over the line.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but being willing to walk away and OK with saying no will ultimately result in bringing on more new clients. And ultimately be happier clients. At the end of the day, they’ll mentally attached a higher value to your solution you for their problems, and will want to keep working with you.”

3. The 1-to-10 Framework

The heart of the 1-to-10 Framework is that it teases out from the prospect both (a) all the reasons they’d be inclined to go with us, as well as (b) any remaining reasons for hesitating/not moving forward.”

Hubspot details this sales closing technique with a few questions:

  • Question 1: A scale of 1 – 10

Ask your prospect to think of a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is “I would NEVER buy from you’ and 10 is ‘I wish you sold more so I could KEEP buying from you!”

  • Question 2: Act surprised

Act surprised, no matter which number they choose: “I’m surprised you picked a number that high! I thought it would be lower. Why did you pick number X?”

5 ways to handle objections in salesThe key to this question is to get the prospect to tell you why they want to buy. Spend some time here. Acknowledge what they say by repeating it back to them. Ask them to elaborate on things they say.” Hubspot goes on to note that you’re looking for more than one answer; after their first reason, ask them for more.

In addition, this is a good place to remind them of how you’re different compared to competitive solutions — just make sure you do it in question format. You might ask:

“What about reason X (where X is a differentiated part of your solution that you think they already value)? Is that a reason why you chose a higher number than I expected? How important is X benefit?”

  • Question 3: Explore concerns

Now it’s time to name their concerns: “It sounds like there are a lot of great reasons why we’re a great fit! But you didn’t give me a 10 – why not?”

Hopefully at this point, the prospect lists their concerns – and don’t let them stop with just one. Chances are, there are more – and you want to know what they are, so you can address them.

Your response might be: “Great point! That’s a common fear, and I totally understand. Do you want to talk through how we avoid this issue with other clients?”

  • Question 4: The closing question

“It sounds like we have a lot of reasons to move forward: A, B, C. You were concerned about X and Y, and we talked through that. Has your number changed? Are you at a ‘10’?”

If not, ask why not, and continue to talk through their concerns. If they’re finally at a “10,” it’s contract time!

4. Revisit their goals

Director of Sales Steve Waters suggests a slimmed-down version of reviewing the prospect’s pain points and matching it to your solution.

  1. “Can you see how helps you <accomplish, fix, or avoid something>?”
  2. “Are you interested in <accomplishing, fixing, or avoiding something>?”
  3. “Is there any reason we can’t start today?”

For example:

  1. “Can you see how DiscoverOrg helps your team set more meetings?”
  2. “Are you interested in setting more meetings?”
  3. “Is there any reason you wouldn’t want to begin setting more meetings today?”

5. The “Yes” game

Wernke likes the fixed-action response: The more yeses you can get on a call, the more likely your prospect will be to agree with the end ask.

corporate-recruiting-recruit-like-marketing“If you can get 3 yeses,” Wernke says, “you’re getting them in a pattern of yeses, and they’re 16% more likely to say yes to the final question of buying. They’re psychologically getting used to saying the word yes, and they’ll be more likely to continue saying it. The ‘yes’ can be a response to any question, but it’s especially effective if it highlights the prospect’s pain and aligns with product value.

“Get some easy yeses out of the way early on, and pave the way to the end.”

For example:

  1. “You said that you were struggling with X, right?” Yes.
  2. “Before we start talking about price points, I just want to make sure our top priority is executing an account-based marketing strategy. Right?” Yes.
  3. “You’ll want the cost prorated, since we’re already halfway through the year, right?” (Throw in a no-brainer!) Yes.

And finally: “Are you ready to move forward and sign this contract?” Yes.

6. Visualization

“If you’re talking with end users,” says Director of Sales Paul Quiring, “ask how they envision using the solution. Have them describe their use case, and what will happen once we deploy.

Getting them to visualize their use by forming their own thoughts about your solution is valuable.

If they can visualize themselves using your product or service, the next step is actually using it.

7. Back actions up to the goal

“If you’re talking with the decision maker,” Quiring suggests, “make sure all the steps are accounted for, in reverse order, from now until you reach a signed contract.

Quiring uses this example: “To sign by August 31st, we need to have this in the hands of the legal department for review by August 24th. That means we need sign off by all managers by the 17th, so we can review terms in between.”

Putting the steps in order creates commitment from both the seller and the buyer, moving you toward where you need to be: a signed contract.

“Don’t forget to include steps after the contract,” Quiring says. “Don’t forget about deployment, training, support, etc., so they know their team will be in good hands after the sale. This gets them thinking about their team using the solution. Laying out steps gets their head in the right place to push the sale through.”

8. Be an advocate: Use “we” language

data segmentation helps content for account based marketing

“Prospects want to feel like they won,” Wernke says, “like they had a hand in the decision – if not the upper hand. Here’s how to get them to feel good about you telling them what they need to buy.

“When we get to the negotiation phase, I transition from bad guy to good guy. The bad guy helps them understand the problem. (Especially if you’re using the Challenger Sale model.) And now they need to feel good about the purchase, so I become an advocate. I say we a lot: Not I or you; it’s we.”

“We’re both interested in getting you [SOLUTION X]. DO is the company that wants to sell you something. I’m just the guy who’s on your side trying to get you what you want.”

What you’re really saying is, “Our goals align here. It’s not me trying to get as much money as possible from you. I’m an advocate on your behalf.”

9. Just ask

When you have nothing else, Director of Sales Sean Duncan says, “A really simple end of month approach is just ask them if a deal is possible.

Sales reps spend half their time prospectingFor example: “John, our month end is Friday. Is it in the realm of possibility that we close a deal by then, and bring you onboard this month?”

This gets them to acknowledge if they are actually close, and it’s a light commit to the process. Depending on how they respond to that, you can then take a few different approaches to close.”

Van Leuven agrees. “You have to ask for the business. People naturally want to do nothing because it’s much easier to do nothing. But the ‘ABC’ (Always Be Closing) mentality is wrong. If you’ve done your job well, the close should always be a natural part of the sale.”

“At the end of the day, if you can’t align your solution with their business challenges, and be able to solve problems, you don’t deserve to close it. If you can do those things, the close is natural.

“I loathe the ‘DEAL EXPIRES AT MIDNIGHT’ type of close,” says Van Leuven, “and all that ‘buy-one get-one’ s#!t. I ask for their business. I humanize the process, I demonstrate the value, and I make it simple and logical.”

Van Leuven adds: “To be fair, it helps to have the best product in the game that solves a lot of problems for a lot of different people and enables them to accomplish and exceed the goals that they have set for themselves, their team and their entire organization. At this point, we have consistently done this for our clients for more than a decade. Having the ability to believe 100% in what you are saying and what you can help with provides such amazing confidence and conviction that people want to and do believe in it the same way.”

Great closers have confidence in their product, in the process, and in themselves.

A few tricks up the sleeve don’t hurt, either.

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About the author

David Sill

David Sill built an inside sales engine for PC Helps Support, Inc. (now known as Vitalyst) that posted 14 consecutive years of high-margin, YoY revenue growth from inside sales, including two private equity-sponsored liquidity events and one dividend recapitalization. After PC Helps, he went solo as a sales coach and consultant, helping both smaller start-ups and established inside sales teams leverage the power of effective storytelling. This led to David's affiliation with Redwood Shores-based Zyme Solutions, who brought him in to launch an inside sales function for the first time in that company's 10+ year history as a leader in the Channel Data Management (CDM) space. He resides in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and four daughters.