How to Close a Sale—B2B Seller’s Guide to Closing Like a Pro

Few things are as nerve-wracking for a salesperson as closing.

There’s just something about coming right out and asking for their business that drives dread into the heart of even the most experienced rep. The anxiety, the rejection, the vulnerability of it all. But more than anything else, there’s the tension of realizing, “If they say no now, it’ll be weeks of work wasted.”

But it turns out most salespeople are doing it all wrong—rather than waiting for the very end of the conversation to ask for their business, they should be re-confirming throughout the entire process.

Doing so removes anxiety, identifies snags early on, and makes closing the deal likelier than ever.

This guide shows you the best way to continuously close deals rather than backloading it all at the end of the buyer’s journey. And with the framework inside, you’ll be closing more sales and boosting buyer confidence along the way.

The Importance of Closing

One of the toughest parts of the sales process is closing. But it’s also one of the most important, too.

The general rule of thumb is that if you don’t ask for things in sales, you tend not to get them. Leaving everything in the hands of buyers may feel like a good idea. After all, a low-pressure approach can often lead to better rapport with buyers—a downright essential for effective selling.

And yet, even buyers with the best intentions tend to push major decisions off until the very last minute. Even then, priorities can shift at a moment’s notice. And that can leave you high and dry after weeks (or even months) of hard work.

That’s why closing effectively is so vital. It reduces the buying cycle, saves you time, and (when done correctly) increases your chances of a “yes” answer.

So if you want to make that deal, if you want to wrap up the sales cycle, then you have got to ask for the sale.

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” –Diana Ross

Let’s Look at the Numbers

Effectively closing matters for salespeople—that much is clear. But what do the numbers say?

Below are just a few statistics that show the value of closing, the difficulty of earning a “yes”, and the importance of following a proven closing strategy when making deals.

  • The most challenging part of the sales process is closing, according to 36% of salespeople (HubSpot).
  • Businesses at the top of their industry close 30% of qualified leads compared to 20% for average companies (PointClear).
  • About half of all sales reps say that competing against low-price competitors is the biggest barrier to closing in their current sales cycle (Richardson).
  • The majority of salespeople (92%) give up on a lead after four “no” responses. But 4 out of 5 prospects say “no” four times before saying “yes” (Marketing Donut).

Micro-Closing

Salespeople often get nervous about closing the sale.

If you’ve been following a value-based sales approach, you should have been acting as a problem solver. How can your product help a buyer achieve their business goals? And what value can you add to their business along the way?

This approach veers away from the high-pressure tactics that many people imagine when they think of sales.

These weird, 80’s sales closing techniques no longer work and can even damage your sales deal.

Successful selling revolves around nudging a potential customer to make their final purchase decision, rather than steamrolling them into it.

That means asking for the sale. And many reps tend to push this step off to the end of the buyer’s journey, resulting in more anxiety come closing time.

But there is another way—micro-closing. Micro-closing is the process of continually getting prospect buy-in that reconfirms they are interested throughout the buying cycle, not just at the end.

When you adjust your strategy for micro-closing rather than all at once, you’re continually checking in with the buyer to make sure you’re on the right track. Doing so lets you:

  • Build rapport by asking permission to move forward rather than just barreling ahead.
  • Identify problems early so you can address concerns and overcome objections right away.
  • Spot disqualifying qualities before you’ve wasted too much time and effort.
  • Increase closing success by reinforcing the value of your solution throughout the buyer cycle.

An Example of Micro-Closing

Let’s take a closer look at what micro-closing looks like compared to the traditional route.

The traditional closing route might look a little something like this:

  1. First contact with a cold lead
  2. Nurturing communications
  3.  Sending resources like product specs and case studies
  4. Scheduling a demo call
  5. Product demonstration
  6. Formal sales call
  7. In-depth discussions on features, logistics, etc.
  8. Closing conversation
  9. Asking for the sale
  10. Sale (or no sale)

With micro-closing, you’re continually asking if it’s okay to move forward with the rest of the buying process. It might look something like this.

  1. First contact with a cold lead
  2. Nurturing communications
  3.  Sending resources like product specs and case studies
  4. Scheduling a demo call
  5. Asking if it’s okay to move on to the next step
  6. Product demonstration
  7. Asking if it’s okay to move on to the next step
  8. Formal sales call
  9. Asking if it’s okay to move on to the next step
  10. In-depth discussions on features, logistics, etc.
  11. Asking if it’s okay to move on to the next step
  12. Closing conversation
  13. Asking for the sale
  14. Sale (or on sale)

See how the sales rep checks in with the buyer multiple times throughout the buyer’s cycle? This ensures the buyer is still on board and interested in your product. It also lets the buyer bring up any immediate concerns so you can address them proactively.

The Continuously Closing Framework

Micro-closing is without a doubt the best way to approach closing. And I’ve found The Continuously Closing Framework makes micro-closing incredibly simple.

All it takes is following three easy steps.

  1. Question 1: “Does It Make Sense to [X]?”
  2. Question 2: “What Do We Need to do to Move This Forward?”
  3. The Loop

Let’s take a close look at what each of these steps involves and how to implement them into your processes.

Question 1: “Does It Make Sense to [X]?”

Of course, you can tweak the wording depending on the product or service you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. But almost verbatim, you can ask this question (and the next) and get a positive response 90% of the time.

Let’s go through some practical examples to demonstrate how simple it is to implement this question in your process.

  • “Does it make sense for you to buy today so that we can get it installed for you next week?”
  • “Does it make sense to move forward so you limit your downtime to a minimum?”

We can also use this line throughout the sales process too—not just to close the business at the end but to gain commitments along the way. This is where the question comes in handy for micro-closing. For example:

  • “Does it make sense to get on the phone and put together a rough business case so that you can pass this on to your manager?”
  • “Does it make sense for me to bring the camera system into your operating room so that you can have a demonstration of it?”

At its core, we’re asking a timing question. We’re asking if the timing is right at this moment to take a small step forward.

We’re just asking whether it makes sense to move to this next step. And since we’re asking a simple question, there is no chance of the buyer rejecting us personally.

That’s pretty cool right? Closing sales and winning more deals without having to resort to a discounted price or manipulative puppy dog close.

If they say “no”, all they’re communicating is that it’s not the right moment in time to move forward. It’s just a prompt for you to enquire about what needs to change to get to that next step. And that’s where the next question comes in.

Why This Simple Question Works

This question is deceptively simple. But it’s also incredibly effective at moving the buying process forward.

There are three main reasons why this question works so well.

When you ask this question, you:

  • Relieve pressure from the buyer, who is probably expecting you to be overly aggressive and use hard, old-school closing tactics on them (“This deal goes off the table tonight at midnight”).
  • Update them as to where they are in the buying process and what the next move might be if everything lines up (“If we’re agreed we have what you need, next up is talking price”).
  • Force the buyer to think logically about moving forward rather than emotionally on what could be at stake (“Is this really a fit?”).

Pro Tip: You may be tempted to over-complicate the question since it’s so simple. DON’T. 

The way this question works is it makes micro-closing a collaborative process. You’re showing that you care about whether you and the buyer are on the same page. And you’re asking for their permission to move forward, not pushing for it aggressively. 

That goes a long way towards building trust and establishing rapport.

“The fastest, quickest way to get away from that being perceived as a pushy salesperson who just wants to reach into my pocket, is that you’ve asked me a question, or you’ve somehow demonstrated that you care about me and you’re interested in where I want to go and what’s important to me.” – Interview with Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions

Question 2: “What Do We Need to Do to Move This Forward?”

So, what if they say no, it does not make sense to move forward?

Don’t worry! This isn’t actually a bad thing.

See, they haven’t said “no” to you. They haven’t said that they’re not going to buy. They haven’t said that they don’t want to take any action at all. In fact, they haven’t said any of this because you haven’t asked them any of these things.

What you asked was simply, “Does it make sense?

Therefore, if your buyer says, “no” to this question, they are sharing important information about where they are within their buying cycle. What they’re actually saying is, “At this moment in time, it does not make sense to move forward.” In other words, the timing isn’t right… yet. And that is perfectly okay.

If you get a “no” to Question #1, you’re then going to ask the follow-up question of “What do we need to do to move this forward?”

In practice, it might look a little something like this:

“That’s okay, what would be a good next step to move things forward?”

Then your buyer will gift you the most logical and natural next step that will move you closer to the contracts getting signed.

Simple, right?

The best part is you don’t need to be a mind reader here. They will literally tell you what you need to do when you ask the second question. From there, you just need to give them the information they need to move forward.

Question 2 Formulas to Follow

There are a few formulas you can follow to maximize the effectiveness of this question.

In the first formula, we can demonstrate that we understand that they are not ready, and we are just looking for their opinion on what the next step should be. The formula’s simple, too:

Question Two = Understanding statement + “What is a good next step?”

If you really want to go pro with your second closing question, you can add a layer of social proof to it too.

Question Two = Understanding statement + Social Proof + “What is a good next step?”

You can use this if you’d like to subtly nudge buyers in one direction if there are many available to them.

Here is an example of what it might look like in the real world:

“I understand you can’t do X because of Y. That makes sense. Other customers at this stage typically take Z step next. Does it make sense for us to do Z?”

Pro Tip: The value of social proof can’t be overstated. Humans are social animals. And when we realize that other people are taking a certain route, it triggers a very deep part of our brain and influences our thinking. 

The best types of social proof you can leverage are referrals from contacts the buyer knows, famous brands they’ve heard of, and even competitors. 

But be careful—overusing social proof or outright bragging is a surefire turnoff for many.

“The number one way to get to a C-suite is through referral.” – Interview with Skip Miller, President of M3 Learning

The Loop

Well done. At this point, you’re already a better closer than 95% of other salespeople because you have a simple closing framework that you know how to follow. And when you’ve followed the framework throughout the buying process, you’ve eliminated the anxiety and fear that most sales reps feel when asking for a buyer’s business.

The final part of the process is to understand that this pair of questions can (and should) run continuously, in a loop, until the deal is closed.

As long as asking the closing questions moves us forward in the sales process, we should keep asking them.

Again, when you keep asking these questions, you’re continually earning prospect buy-in, increasing rapport, and boosting the ultimate success of the sale.

Framework Loop Example

Let’s take a quick look at what this framework loop might look like.

  • Seller – “Does it make sense to do X?”
  • Buyer – “No” 
  • Seller – “I find customers at this stage often do Y. Does it make sense to do Y?”
  • Buyer – “No” 
  • Seller – “We could also do Z if that makes sense. Does it make sense to do Z?”
  • Buyer – “No” 
  • Seller – “That’s okay, what would be a good next step to move things forward then?”
  • Buyer – “We need to do A, is that OK?”

As you can see, running through the framework is a continuous and fluid process. Sometimes, you’ll land on an appropriate solution right off the bat. And in other cases, the loop will be longer.

As long as you trust the framework, though, you’ll be making continuous progress towards closing the sale.

Pro Tip: Don’t feel disheartened at repeated nos when running through this framework. For some buyers, it can take quite a while to land on an appropriate solution or next step. But remember that with each negative response, you’re refining your understanding of their needs. And that means you’re getting closer and closer to an appropriate solution. 

“Don’t care about how you’re feeling. Your feelings aren’t real. Your feelings are the result of your thinking in the moment, and they change in the moment as quickly as they come and as quickly as they go. So, if you feel nervous or you feel upset, don’t take it seriously. It’s a trick that the mind has produced. So, don’t let your feelings get in the way of making great deals.” – Interview with Gavin Pressman, Media Sales, Leadership, & Organizational Development Trainer

How to Close a Sale Frequently Asked Questions

The Continuously Closing Framework is a fantastic strategy to make closing simpler than ever. But even still, most reps will have more questions about closing.

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to close a sale.

How to Close a Sale on the Phone

When it comes to closing a sale on the phone (especially while cold calling), drop those traditional sales closing techniques. Here are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of success.

  1. Have the next step in mind (finalizing timelines, signing contracts, getting deposits, etc.).
  2. Fully understand your prospect’s needs and reference them throughout the call.
  3. Go off a general closing script that’s brought you success in the past.
  4. Assume the sale is already made (The Assumptive Close technique).
  5. Treat objections as opportunities to provide more information.
  6. Ask for the sale.
  7. Finalize next steps before getting off the line.

How Many Follow-Ups to Close a Sale

Follow-ups are essential for closing a sale. But in many cases, it takes more follow-up than most reps expect.

For instance, The Brevet Group found that 80% of sales require five follow-up calls before they’re ready to close. This is problematic because 44% of reps give up after just their first follow-up.

But according to some sources, reps need to work even harder to close a sale. The RAIN Group found it takes on average eight touches before earning a conversion.

In the end, the message is clear—it often takes quite a bit more follow-up to close than most salespeople think.

How to Close a Sale Via Email

Most big buyers will want to talk in person or over a call to close a complex deal. But for less complex products, closing via email may be an option.

Writing a winning sales email is tough. You’ve got to have a strong sales pitch and selling process in place. But there are a few things you can do to improve your odds of closing a deal right over email.

  • Start with a winning subject line
  • Avoid the spam and stick with sincerity instead
  • Get to the point
  • Always aim for clarity over selling
  • Play to scarcity with deals and time-sensitive discounts

You can learn more about how to close over email in my interview with author and sales consultant Ian Brodie.

How to Close a Sale Interview Questions

There are a few key questions you can ask to bring your sales discussions to a close (after moving forward through the framework, of course). Below is a sales tactic that will land you a job on that new sales team.

  • Let’s move on to pricing.
  • When should we begin implementation?
  • If I’ve demonstrated why [solution] will solve [problem], are you ready to move forward?
  • What happens next?
  • Will you commit to doing business with us today?
  • Ready to move forward? I can send over the contract right now.

What Are Common Sales Closing Techniques?

There are plenty of sales closing techniques, but the four below are the most common.

  • The Assumptive Close – This technique involves the salesperson expecting the buyer is going to sign on. As a result, they move forward with the mindset and verbiage that assumes the sale is closed—the contract just needs to be signed.
  • The Scarcity Close – The fear of missing out (FOMO) is an age-old trigger that’s been getting buyers onboard for generations. Limiting the buying window, hinting at other interested buyers, or offering a time-sensitive discount can help here.
  • The Takeaway Close – Buyers expect to be sold to. But when you turn the tables by telling your prospects they may not actually be a good fit, you’re using reverse psychology to give them an internal buying nudge.
  • The Summary Close – This closing technique wraps up everything you’ve covered so far in the buying cycle—major features, how it’s a fit for their company, implementation dates, etc. By giving buyers another chance to really envision how they’ll use your product (and what they’ve already done to get there), you’re signaling it’s time to make a decision.

Wrapping Up

Heading into a final sales closing meeting gets a lot of reps’ hearts pumping. Will they agree to the terms? Will you bring in that hard-earned fat commission? Or will the buyer walk away, vaporizing days and weeks of hard work?

But if you practice continuous closing throughout the buying cycle, your final closing meeting will feel like any other. No stress. No will they/won’t they. And no shattered hopes and wasted time.

Stop thinking about a process to close sales. Start thinking about how you can close the next step of the sales process.

That’s because with continuous closing, you know your buyer’s in it for the long haul. They’ve demonstrated continual interest along the way. And saying no now just doesn’t make sense.

The Continuously Closing Framework is the absolute best way to get your prospect’s buy-in at every stage of the process. All you have to do is follow three simple steps:

  1. Question 1: “Does It Make Sense to [X]?”
  2. Question 2: “What Do We Need to do to Move This Forward?”
  3. The Loop

When you do, you’ll not only feel more confident and less anxious when it comes time to sign the deal. But you’ll also boost prospect retention, increase buyer rapport, and close more sales with better leads.

For you, that means no more closing time nerves and a fatter commission at the end of the day. And what salesperson wouldn’t love that?

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