Questions That Lead to the Close

As a sales rep, there’s almost nothing worse than working a deal all the way through the sales pipeline, only to have it stall right at the finish line. Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us.

No one wants to draw their sales cycle out, run the risk of missing quota or worse yet, let a key account go dark. That’s why we asked some of our top sales folks here at Base to share their favorite tips and sales strategies for getting prospects to sign on the dotted line.

Aaron Gragg, Senior Account Executive

1) Put together a “care package” with mugs/shirts/notebooks/etc. Ask for sizes, preferences, and timing to send the package so as to align with contract execution and project kickoff. It puts soft pressure on them to be more precise with timing on the contract so that the swag does not show prematurely and cause confusion.

2) Tried and true, but backing out the contract date from the 6-8 week delivery/success timeline and their desired go-live works wonders. “If we delay another week, we are putting your go-live deadline at risk. What’s the impact if we miss that date?”

3) Offer a call with the prospect’s executive sponsor and your own CEO or VPs to establish an exec alignment prior to inking the deal and kicking off delivery. They won’t accept if they are not truly ready to partner.

4) Presumptively invite them to a new customer dinner/luncheon or similar. Specify the event is for current customers only and you want to make sure they are signed pre-event.

Kathleen Osgood, Sales Manager

I subscribe to the idea that if you have run a really thorough sales process, there isn’t much of a “hump” to jump over when you get to the finish line. The best salespeople I have watched work are incredibly good at qualifying prospects who they know can draw value from the tool they offer. Then, they build very thorough evaluation plans so that both buyer AND seller know what to expect and when.

For example, in the software space, we generally wait to demo a product until there is a very thorough understanding of what the client will need to see within a tool/ platform. The features that will be shown are going to be tied directly to the positive business outcomes that the client has indicated are important to making a purchase. Even further, the top reps will ask the question BEFORE the demo of what they can expect to happen AFTER the demo should the team find it compelling.

This is a long way of saying the best reps are chess players. They have all of their moves planned out well in advance and the close is simply taking the queen.

Laura Andrusko, Account Executive

I don’t really believe in closing questions; I’m more of a believer in setting a deal up to close.

To do so it’s important you have a clear understanding of how the prospect evaluates – who will be involved, who needs to see what, what’s the timeline. etc. For example, if “ease of use” is part of their criteria, do they want a trial or to see a demo? And who will be the audience to determine if the CRM is easy to use? After you build the plan it’s important to repeat this plan to the client and get their agreement as to whether it makes sense.

From there it’s important to have many soft closes throughout the entire sales cycle. For example, if you need to demo the lower level admin first but you know in your evaluation plan the VP of Sales needs to sign off, ask, “I would be more than happy to demo! If I show you x,y,z functionality will you be comfortable introducing me to your VP of Sales?” This helps you move forward.

Lastly, if the client is lagging when it comes to signing you can be a bit aggressive because you have done your due diligence. You can say, “Mr. Propsect, when we initially spoke you mentioned you needed to see x,y,z and see the business value of a,b,c. In order to do so we took the following steps….is there anything else we need to validate before you sign?”

Another way to close them is to be their cheerleader. It can scary to invest in technology, especially technology you have never had before. Reassure them that you will be their partner and remind them of the benefits they will receive once they sign.

Michael Logan, VP of Worldwide Sales

Once positive business outcomes are communicated, start asking questions like, “When does it make sense to get started together?” and, “What would be your ideal go live date for a solution like this?”

The responses to these questions allow you to put a stake in the ground around the end game. Contract execution is now just a milestone in the process.

Laralyn Murphy, Account Executive

When there is stiff competition in a sale, I like to ask the prospect: “Which company can you imagine yourself working with and trusting long-term?” If you’ve done your job well, the answer will be “You!” because you’ve become a trusted advisor to them, and you’ve represented your company as one that will take care of its customers and not sell them short. In a sale, the relationship you are offering can be just as compelling as the solution itself.

Mason Davis, Sales Manager

The best results come from when you take the stress out of the close. As long as you know when it’s coming and there are no unknowns, it makes everyone feel a lot more comfortable. It’s actually all about having mini closes that lead up to it. They don’t have to agree to anything upfront, but they know that IF we get to a certain place, certain things will happen.

Finally, you build things into your sales cycle using those same principles. Ask questions like, “After this demo, if you like what you see, would you be willing to agree to a proof of concept?” Or, “So, if there was a solution that could do this, would you be willing to move forward at x price?” You still have to prove that you are that solution, but you are prepping them to take next steps and move toward the close.

Get to Closing

For more insights and tips like these to improve your sales strategy, download the free 2017 Guide for Next-Generation Sales Leaders.

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