Closing techniques represent a pillar of the sales process. The close represents the peak of a diligently guided sales process — your lead qualification was flawless; your discovery phase was impeccable. Now all you need to do is choose your words carefully and seal the deal.
Closing a deal has never been quite as easy as it sounds, but the en masse switch to remote working has added further complications to the process. Your company may be trying to adjust to the new experience of selling your product e-commercially. Even if your sales organization is accustomed to doing remote business, your customers might be new to it. So, whether you’re seasoned at closing remote deals or not, sales pros need a little extra help to secure business, especially when there’s less of it to go around.
For these reasons, your closing techniques need to be strong if you want to consistently strike deals remotely. Injecting some of the following tactics into your closing approach can help you get new business rolling your way as we all fight our way out of the post-COVID-19 slump.
The Classics of Closing: What Is It and Some Fundamental Techniques
Closing techniques are standardized approaches for bringing sales deals to a positive conclusion. You’ll have spent the early stages of the sales process building up your prospect’s interest and establishing connections between your product’s features and your prospect’s pain points. You’ll have fostered personal rapport and offered your prospect a vision of their company’s future with your product. Closing techniques then wrap all of this pre-made interest and steer it towards a positive decision.
Closing has existed as long as people have been selling stuff. A few of the most tried-and-true examples of closing techniques are:
The Assumptive Close
Otherwise known as the “So, when do we start?” close, the assumptive close involves your sales rep taking a closed-won deal as a given. Laying the groundwork for a successful assumptive close begins way back in the sales process. Throughout, your rep needs to sprinkle sales terms that signal to your prospect that you fully expect them to invest in your product once the deal’s done.
A few examples of this kind of tailored language might include:
- On Approach Call: “We’re really excited to show you what our product will be able to do for you...”
- On Discovery Call: “This is the kind of ROI you can expect after you’ve invested in our product...”
You see how the phrases above make subtle, persuasive use of the future tense? That’s what a good setup for an assumptive close looks like. It is a positive and aggressive closing technique.
The Question Close
Otherwise known as the “Do we have a deal?” close, where the assumptive close sees your rep presume responsibility for the close decision, the question close cedes that to your client.
If the sales process so far suggests that you and your prospect are well-matched, but there might still be some reservations, then this closing technique is ideal. Your prospect can be frank with their objections while keeping the possibility of a deal at the front of their mind, and it frees your rep to fashion a new solution that responds to these objections.
The Discount Close/Sharp-Angle Close
The discount close and the sharp-angle close are, strictly speaking, two distinct closing techniques, but they can work well when combined. The discount close offers a money-off deal to a prospect who is of two minds about whether or not to invest. This approach is popular in SaaS since you can make up for the discount later with an overall MRR increase or through upselling.
The sharp-angle close involves honing in on one feature. Alternately, it involves focusing on a particular aspect of the deal that your prospect is not hot on and offering to make the required removal/addition if the prospect is willing to commit to a purchase. The versatility of SaaS feature bundling can make this simple enough. Savvy SaaS sales reps can also combine the two approaches — for instance, with a first-quarter discount and an added feature — to seal a deal.
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Closing Techniques for Striking Deals Remotely
Thanks to the present market conditions, the sales landscape has changed. Sales pros are making almost all of their deals remotely. Price sensitivity is up among many industry sectors, and budgets for new tech items and services have been slashed across the board. There is also a higher likelihood that one of several deal risk vectors will impact your deal. These include deal relay (alternating periods of progress and stagnation on a deal) and champion churn (the point of contact who loved your product leaves the company).
This situation calls for a tailoring of closing techniques. Sales reps must be more creative with what they’re offering prospects, not merely with how smoothly they’re offering it. The following closing techniques are particularly effective for striking deals in a remote capacity and will allow your reps to improve the attractiveness of your deal package.
The Freemium Close
There are few SaaS companies that don’t have some kind of freemium option in their subscription plan. Current circumstances make it a good idea for your reps to make use of that option as a closing technique of its own.
Offer to set your prospect up with a demo of your product, including the features that they’ve asked for, on a freemium plan with no obligation to buy. This kind of closing technique actually defers the point of genuine closed-won/closed-lost, but giving your prospect time with your product can be the most convincing sales technique of all. If they really derive value from your product, they’re likely to sign after the freemium period elapses.
An example of the freemium close might involve Company A offering Prospect A a two-week demo license for their “Intermediate” subscription plan. The demo-license might include the analytics features that Prospect A is interested in but is not sure if they can justify investing in it at this point. The freemium close is most likely to be a success with these kinds of keen, medium-to-high value but price-sensitive prospects.
The Group Close
One thing our research has consistently surfaced since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the beginning of remote sales is that CFOs are more and more likely to be present on deals. This, combined with the higher likelihood of champion churn, can make regular closing techniques based on familiarity less reliable.
The group close can provide a good way around these complications. Seek to close on a call that doesn’t just include your client point of contact but also affiliated decision-makers (including the CFO). This way, you can field questions from multiple departments and justify the outlay on your product in various terms. You can also address important ROI questions more directly.
This closing technique is best to use whenever your POC registers pushback on a possible deal from higher up, which is more likely to happen with enterprise-grade prospects in this market climate.
The Spectacle Close
The nature of remote deals is that everything you have to make the close work is on your client’s screen. For that reason, one of the most effective closing techniques involves making full use of video presentation technology. When closing, use graphical representations to reaffirm deal progress and use visual aids to restate a vision of your client’s future with your product.
For example, when trying to sell to Prospect C, Company A might actually emphasize the extensive nature of the sales process that just elapsed through a graphical representation. It frames the sales process as a journey, which can be persuasive in itself when convincing a prospect not to waste all that hard-fought progress. Then show your prospect a visual representation of their future with you. Take care to make this primarily visual, with very limited text, if any — you don’t want to necessarily give your prospect discovery presentation flashbacks.
We can see a good example of this from Snapchat:
Image from blog.bit.ai, courtesy of Snapchat
This slide is perfect for a spectacle close. It’s simple, visual, needs no justification, and it summarizes all the information your rep has already presented. As a result, the spectacle close is a versatile closing technique for remote deals, and you can incorporate it in most circumstances.
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The Scale Close
You’re likely to encounter your fair share of pushback when working on remote deals in the current climate. Enthusiastic prospects may not have the budget. Well-matched potential clients might be worried about the ROI they can expect. And there’ll inevitably be objections to field and address.
That’s why the scale close is so effective. Simply ask your prospect to rate their affection for your product on a scale of 1-10, then ask what you can do to build their confidence in your product up to a 10. Like the freemium close, the scale close may defer immediate chances to close, but it may also make the long-term prospects of a closed-won stronger.
It is a closing technique very well adjusted for remote deals that are stalling because of fairly small, workable details.
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More Practical Guidance for Striking Deals Remotely
Aside from specific closing techniques, your sales reps can command a host of other sales process details to increase the likelihood of success.
First and foremost, be empathetic. The trust-building aspect of SaaS selling and being your prospect’s champion has never been more important. While our research shows that closed-won deals in this environment have one-to-three rep-instigated “empathic moments,” empathy is not just a case of talking the talk. In many cases, it requires the opposite. In the words of Bob Perkins, founder, and chairman of AA-ISP, the best approach is to...
“[S]hut up and listen. [As your sales rep] I listen to you and provide value to you, without asking for anything.”
So, identify clearly why your product will help your prospect at this very moment. It’s no good trying to sell your prospect on your product’s impact in an uncertain future if it can’t also help them right now. Recap their circumstances in detail to show your understanding, and then demonstrate how your product helps alleviate these pain points.
A surprisingly good technique for increasing remote deal success involves being proactive with some of the less glamorous details, too. Take initiative with e-signatures, documentation, and due diligence. If your client isn’t used to striking deals this way, taking the lead on this can increase the likelihood of closed-won outcomes.
So Close, Yet So Far...
When considering the closing techniques that are best for striking deals remotely, there are a lot of circumstantial factors to think about. There’s less budget to go around and more questions around value and ROI to be considered. As a result, closing techniques that prioritize patience and allow your client more room to investigate your product can be the most rewarding.
That sense of patience and general diligence when it comes to trying to provide value to your prospect are the two virtues that most underpin the best closing techniques for striking deals remotely. Listen actively, empathize, and tailor your approach, and you’ll be closing in style and helping your sales organization thrive even in this time of utmost adversity.
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