Tips to Transform Your Closing Questions and Improve Negotiations

closingquestions

Old habits die hard. That’s why some veteran sellers have a hard time relating to today’s relationship-​driven partners. Modern, savvy buyers want to work with vendors who care about them — not just help them meet a quota. As purchase behaviors shift, today’s buyers no longer tolerate high-​pressure, numbers-​driven salespeople whose primary goal is closing the deal. In fact, an updated approach toward effective closing questions reveals that the “Always Be Closing” phrase should be exchanged for “Always Be Helping.” This transformation is showcased in twelve popular methods of customer-​centric selling systems. These concepts are examined in this recently updated article by Emma Brudner.

Align Your Closing Questions with Your Sales Process

Brudner cautions that since no two businesses are the same, a process that works for one company could easily fail for another. However, she insists that these methodologies are loftier, more comprehensive systems which convey an entire sales philosophy. Remarkably, each system unveils their own set of closing questions that will help guide your buyer through the selling process.

All Twelve Methodologies Require Discovery

In reviewing the twelve methods of selling, it’s apparent that each one requires information at the outset. The goal may be knowing the situation, understanding the economic impact, building trust, or confirming the buyer’s whereabouts in the sales funnel. Importantly, the only way to start is with questions. The exchange of information begins by probing with purpose. Strategically, there are many issues that can derail negotiations so it’s best to expose them straightaway. For this reason, closing questions can never come too early. However, the purpose is not to pressure — it's to share, listen and learn.

Transition Statements are Powerful Tools

The practice of confirming before closing is a technique to help set the stage for your close. It’s a type of trial close that feels more natural and informal. It can also open doors to further discovery and pave the way to closure. This technique is explored further in an article from salesman​.org. Cleverly, the author puts forth eight sales transition statements that avoid being aggressive or making the prospect uncomfortable. The statements are designed to instill trust and must come before more forceful closing questions that follow. Among other merits, transition statements are intended to:

  • Confirm understanding about the product
  • Substantiate product value
  • Open the door for more information sharing
  • Tease an acceptable price range
  • Test for upsell opportunities
  • Confirm decision makers
  • Reveal unstated obstacles
  • Solidify a timetable

Update Your Negotiation Skills

In addition to planning your closing questions, it’s important to brush up on your negotiation skills. Eric Barker, author of “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” offers nine secrets to make you an expert negotiator. The article suggests and clarifies concepts that you may not have considered in the past. For instance, his research suggests that negotiators are more effective when they are working on the behalf of others. Imagining this concept helps them detach and gain confidence. Further, he reminds us that the hallmark of successful negotiation is when both sides are happy in the end.

Negotiation Principles to Keep in Mind

Barker lays the foundation of negotiation training with a discussion of leverage. Understanding who has the leverage and how to alter perception is critical in the preparation stage. Furthermore, setting goals, establishing trust, and exchanging information are concepts vital to success. Critically, Barker establishes guidelines for when things break down or you’ve reached a stalemate. Ultimately these exercises lay the groundwork for your closing questions. Remember, you are seeking a commitment to execute the deal. Indeed, quality over quantity is the name of the game when you’re working with a customer-​centric sales system. Your success is assured when your partner is poised to engage in future deals, and you are free to pursue your next client.

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Tim Londergan

Tim Londergan

Tim is a research contributor at SalesFuel and he writes for SalesFuel Today. Previously, he worked as a Sales Development Manager, representing products such as AdMall and AudienceSCAN. Tim holds a B.S. from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
Tim Londergan

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