How to Run a Bulletproof Negotiation

Negotiation is one of the most difficult, and in my opinion, poorly understood aspects of the sales process.  If there's at least one thing I've learned about leading sales reps, epecially less experiences ones, they do not know how to negotiate effectively.  Even if they run a flawless sales process, they give up loads of value after having created so much in everything they did prior.  While the customer ultimately gets the better end of this deal, it's not effective for building a business over the long term.  Heavy discounting erodes margin and eliminates a business's ability to invest back into their own people, which in turn, limits the quality of the total customer experience.   

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Three of the Most Effective Closing Techniques for Sales Reps

I've been doing and observing closing techniques for sales reps for over four years now and want to share some things I've learned with you on how to close a sale. 
In general, I think a lot of sales reps have room for improvement when it comes to asking for someone's business.  This is often rooted in some level of a money-weakness, but I'll cover that a separate time.   For example, at the end of an exploration or sales process, I often hear sales reps say something like, "Well, what did you think?  What are the next steps?" 
This more often than not ends with the prospect saying something like, "It was great but I need to circle back with the team and see where we go from here."  Then the chase begins.  But what if "the chase" didn't have to happen?  Or what if it happened less?  What would you do with all that extra time? 
Well, in an effort to help all sales reps and sales leaders continuously learn and improve a wide variety of your sales skills, here's my "greatest hits" list ofclosing techniques.  I also can't help but point out that Pete Caputa taught me all of these techniques so connect with him on LinkedIn or tweet at him (@pc4media) and say thanks. 

Closing Technique #1: The Perfect Close

The-perfect-close-inbound-seller.jpgThis first one isn't actually a technique, but it's a way for you to determine how well you ran your sales process.  If at the end of a goal setting call or demo, you don't actually have to ask a question and instead the prospect says, "Ok, how do we get started?" that is the sign you have run a flawless, or near flawless sales process.  
The prospect is so bought in that they are asking you how to buy ... now.  Of course, the way to get here is by continually focusing on all the stages that precede the closing call and executing with precision.  

Closing Technique #2: The Inoffensive Close/ The Soft Close 

the-inoffensive-close-inbound-seller.jpgAs you approach the final stages of your exploration or sales process, you can use this line of questioning to assert your knowledge, confirm it with your prospect, and prescribe the next step for them.  This technique works particularly well with the "S" (Steadiness) and "D" (Dominance) personality types from DiSC training if you've gone through that before. 
The Inoffensive Close [TEMPLATE]:
Based on everything we discussed, I see four major areas that we can help with through a partnership [NOTE - you will obviously need to tailor this to your particular discussion, and the specific ways in which your company solves its customers challenges; this is an example of how we have done this at HubSpot's Agency Partner Program]
  1. Improve your internal marketing 
  2. Consolidate tools sets -- both for yourselves and clients -- and improve efficiency 
  3. Expand services down the funnel and grow retainer revenue 
  4. Do some teamwork and training with your team as far as marketing, sales, and service delivery goes... 
Is there anything that I missed, or that you would add to that list?  
  • Ok, so at this point, do you feel like I have a good understanding of your business and what you're trying to achieve? 
  • Do you believe the plan we've laid out will get you to those goals? 
  • Do you have any alternative plan to achieve those goals? 
  • Assuming the [THE LAST STEP; eg - Demo, Exec Presentation, Solution Presentation] meets your expectations, do you want our help by partnering together? 

Closing Technique #3: The "1 to 10" Technique

If you've already gone through the HubSpot Inbound Sales Certification, this one isn't going to be a surprise to you. But if you have NOT gone through the Inbound Sales Cert I'll share this nugget now.  
The "1 to 10" Closing Technique works particularly well with prospects that fit the "I" (Influencer) and "C" (Conscientiousness) personalities from DiSC.  It is designed to help the prospect fully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of working with you, and to ultimately help them see that the benefits outweigh the risks/ drawbacks.  Here it is... 
The "1 to 10" Closing Technique [TEMPLATE]:
As you approach the conclusion to your exploration or sales process with a prospect... 
"So, Ms. Prospect, on a scale of 1 to 10 ... 1 being 'we should end the call now' and '10' being 'sign me up now' ... where would you assess we are at this point?" 
Now, unless they give a number lower than a 6 (if lower than a 6 then you screwed up the earlier stages of the sales process and need to go back), you have to choose a lower number and say... 
"Huh, I'm surprised you chose a number that high.  Why did you choose it?" 
The key here is to purposely say that you think the number is higher than what you thought it would be because you want to lead them into elaborating on the benefits of working with you.  After the prospect finishes explaining the benefits, we then want to turn them around and get them to outline their concerns so that we can address them. 
To do that, deliver this line... 
"Huh, those sound like some pretty strong reasons to work together [paraphrase their reasons back to them].  But now I'm even more confused... based on the reasons you gave, why isn't your number a 10?" 
At this point, the prospect will start giving you their objections or concerns.  The key here is to walk through the questions/ objections/ concerns... 
"Ok, I understand your concerns.  Should we talk through those now?" 
Once you've talked through the concerns, ask.. 
"Now that we've talked through your hesitations, has your number changed at all?" 
If they're still not at a 10, then deliver the following line... 
"Ok, I understand you still have some hesitations.  Earlier you shared that [INSERT WHAT YOU LEARNED ABOUT WHY THEY WANTED TO WORK WITH YOU].  Then you also shared [INSERT WHAT THEY SHARED WAS HOLDING THEM BACK].  Comparing the benefits and risks side by side, do you think the benefits of working together outweigh the risks?" 
At this point, they should say yes, in which case you proceed to final contract terms.  If they say no, then you have your answer and the deal goes to closed lost. 
If you'd like to read how to do this closing technique in Pete Caputa's own words, he wrote a great blog article about it here --
Brian Signorelli
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Brian Signorelli

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