Heading into a closing conversation with a prospect is always nerve-wracking. No matter how impressed they seemed during your demo or how enthusiastic your champion is, there's always a chance you'll lose to the competition, they'll decide to postpone their decision until next quarter, or they'll ask for a price you can't deliver.

A "yes" or "no" hinges on far more than just the specific closing sentence or question.

But as you've probably seen, using the right words can definitely make a difference. Read on to learn the closing phrases you should (and shouldn't) use.

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1. Do your research.

You need to understand your company's offerings so you can find the products and services that will work best for the prospect you're working with. And throughout the sales process, do your research on the prospect's company. I

Speak with the point of contact and with other people at the company in different departments to learn more. This will give you a clearer picture of how the company works and what its objectives are.

2. Set expectations.

Set expectations early in the sales process. And ask difficult questions about their budget, timeline, etc. before providing the prospect with something they want, like a demo or a trial. You'll qualify the prospect, build a genuine rapport with them, and earn their trust.

3. Pitch the solution, not the product.

When working with a prospect, you want to provide them with a holistic solution that fits their business' needs. Don't try to push a product on them that won't benefit them.

4. Handle objections.

If the buyer has any concerns about price or product fit, proactively address their concerns. Listen to them and validate their concern. Then, ask additional qualifying questions and respond thoughtfully.

5. Ask for the sale.

Once you're confident in the solution you're providing to the buyer and their company, it's time to ask for the sale. Make the buyer feel comfortable, but don't be afraid to communicate any urgency you might be feeling to move the deal forward.

6. Arrange next steps.

Finalize the signing of the contract and any additional paperwork. And set your new customer up for success with resources and information about implementation.

What's the assumptive close? It's a manipulative sales tactic where you act like the prospect has already decided.

Here are three examples:

  • "When should we get started on implementation?"
  • "What delivery date would you like?"
  • "Which [package, tier, bundle] are you going with?"
  • "Send me [X financial information] and I'll get the paperwork ready now."

Is this the worst way to close a deal? No. If someone isn't going to buy, the assumptive close won't get them to do a 180 -- so it's not as though you're tricking people into handing over their credit cards. You might, however, convince an on-the-fence prospect to walk away. This technique makes you come across as pushy and self-serving, which isn't the best impression to give when kicking off a business partnership.

Instead of this strategy, try these closing phrases. We promise they're more effective (and they won't make you feel like a slimeball).

Asking for the Sale

Use these non-aggressive closing questions to make the buyer feel comfortable -- without completely taking off the pressure.

1. "Is there any reason, if we gave you the product at this price, that you wouldn't do business with our company?"

This one turns salespeople into Jedi mind trick masters. In an Inc. article, Geoffrey James pointed out that if the prospect answers "no" to this question, the rep has indirectly gotten them to agree to the contract. If the answer is "yes," however, the rep has the opportunity to address objections without bringing the deal to a halt.

2. "If we could find a way to deal with [objection], would you sign the contract on [set period in time]?"

Objections often kill deals. But in this case, handling the objection is actually a way of closing the sale. Of course, this depends on the company's ability to resolve the problem by a given date. But if a fix is possible, getting the customer to commit ahead of time is a clever way of turning a con into a pro.

3. "It seems like [product] is a good fit for [company]. What do you think?"

This question automatically makes your prospect think of all the reasons they're interested in buying. Because you end by asking for their opinion, it sounds genuine rather than self-serving. And once they say something like, "Yeah, I think it could really help us with X," you've got the perfect segue into "Great, I'll send over the proposal right now."

4. "Would you like my help?"

This is the closing line espoused by Dave Kurlan in his book Baseline Selling. It's sort of perfect: gentle and friendly without being obscure or weak. Plus, it enforces the rep's image as an advisor rather than a hard-closing salesperson.

5. "If we throw in [freebie], would that convince you to sign the contract today?"

Clearly, this closing technique isn't appropriate for every situation (it's called "selling," after all, not "giving away"). But for important or very large deals, offering an exclusive or time-sensitive add-on to sweeten the pot might be a smart move. Price discounts could also make sense in competitive markets. However, it's up to management whether they empower reps to make discount or freebie offers on their own.

6. "Taking all of your requirements and desires into consideration, I think these two products would work best for you. Would you like to go with [X] or [Y]?"

The rationale behind giving two alternatives is that the prospect will be more inclined to choose one than turn both away (a third option that's been discreetly taken off the table). The rep thus increases their chances of hearing a "yes" to something rather than a "no" to everything.

7. "I'd hate to see [negative consequence] befall your company because you didn't have the right product in place. Do you want to take the crucial step to protect your organization today?"

Fear is a powerful motivator. This closing tactic is most effective in situations where the consequences of not buying will actually harm the business, instead of simply allowing the status quo to continue. It's best to pair this line with external factors, such as new legislation or economic conditions, which prospects can't control.

8. "Why don't you give it/us a try?"

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? The disarming and unassuming quality of this question is precisely why sales expert Brian Tracy recommends it. Phrasing the decision as "giving the product a chance" instead of "making a commitment" downplays the risk and ramps up the rapport.

9. "If you sign the contract today, I can guarantee we can do [special request the buyer asked for]. How does that sound?"

Similar to #2, but with one important caveat. The closing question in #2 assumes that the salesperson will resolve a prospect objection before they sign the contract. This closing technique-- called a "rebound close" -- promises that the rep will grant a special request after the prospect provides their John Hancock. This critical change in the closing timeframe reflects the difference between a deal-killing objection (that other vendors might be able to address) and a special favor (that other vendors will likely be similarly hesitant to grant).

10. "I know you said you need to have a solution in place by [date]. Working backward from that day and factoring in implementation and training time, it looks like we'd need to have a signed contract by [date] in order to meet that deadline. Can you commit to that signing date?"

If you know the prospect has a firm deadline they need to stick to, use it to crank up the urgency. And since you're using the prospect's deadline instead of pulling one out of thin air, this type of reminder-slash-closing line actually helps the buyer instead of unduly pressuring them.

11. "Will you commit to doing business with us today?"

Ah, the old direct ask. Sometimes the simplest closing technique can be best, but other times it can come off as presumptive or pushy. A salesperson has to have a firm command of the situation and a high level of familiarity with their buyer to use this closing line successfully.

12. "Ready to move forward? I can send over the contract right now."

Everyone likes the idea of progress. If prospects associate the purchase with forward momentum, they'll be likelier to commit. This closing line also reduces the friction of buying -- the contract is already ready, so all they need to do is sign.

13. "You're interested in X and Y features, right? If we get started today, you'll be up and running by [date]."

Salespeople can encourage their prospects to make a decision by reminding them the sooner they act, the sooner they'll have their new system. Mentioning specific parts of the product doesn't hurt, either -- buyers will immediately start picturing how much easier their life will be with the new solution.

14. "What happens next?"

According to sales expert Mike Brooks, "Whenever your prospect begins stalling or providing any other excuse for not acting today, you simply reply with (these) three words." It might seem crazy to put your prospect in the driver's seat like this -- but something's preventing them from buying, and you need to figure it out if you want any shot of getting their business.

15. "If we implement by X date, I estimate you can start seeing ROI by March. That means we'd need to close by X date. Is that enough time for you to make a decision?"

Especially if your prospect needs to prove the value of their purchase to executives — ROI can be a great bargaining chip. If you have the ability to estimate that they'll start to see a return on investment in as little as six months, that might be enough to push them over the edge.

Just make sure you never promise ROI in a given timeframe. You want to set expectations, so that they know your estimate is never a guarantee.

16. "Would this be a better fit for your team/budget next quarter? If so, I'm happy to follow up then."

You've probably been there. Your prospect really wants to push the deal through, but it's just not the right time — and it's starting to eat into your time spent on deals further along in the pipeline.

This doesn't mean you should close the book on these prospects. But it might be time to ask them honestly and kindly whether it might be better to revisit this at the beginning of their next budget cycle.

17. "I know X is a really big priority for your team next quarter. If we're able to close by X date, this solution will really be able to help you meet your goals."

When in doubt, remind them of their goals. If you're selling software that automates part of your prospect's widget manufacturing process, and you know they're approaching the Holiday season — their busiest and most productive time of year — remind them that if they implement by a certain date, they'll have the help they need to close more business themselves.

Want a more assertive approach? Try these closing lines and questions.

1. "Unless you have any more questions or concerns, I think we're ready to get started."

You're leaving the door open for them to get more information while making it clear where you stand. If you've done your job surfacing and resolving objections throughout the sales process, the buyer will answer with something like, "No, I'm good. I think we're ready too."

2. "Let's discuss pricing."

With this statement, you transition the conversation from general, abstract topics like ROI and product features into the actual agreement. It's not a very subtle shift, but it works.

3. "Tell me your thoughts."

To gauge how ready your prospect is, say this. If they're looking for the metaphorical pen to sign on the dotted line, they'll usually say so. If they're still unsure, you'll hear some hemming and hawing. This gives you the chance to figure out what's holding them back without trying to close too soon.

4. "We can take as long as you'd like, but I know [you've got another meeting at X time, this call is scheduled to wrap up in Y minutes]. With that in mind, maybe we should move to the actual agreement."

While you don't want to rush your prospect too much, reminding them of the ticking clock gives you a good reason to bring up pricing. Notice this response is framed around their schedule. If they want to continue the conversation you're currently having, you can offer to arrange another meeting.

5. "When can we begin [implementation, training, etc.]?"

This question will get the prospect thinking about the end result, even if they haven't committed to purchasing. And their answer will let you know if their timeline for a new solution has changed. If the prospect is stalling, this is one way to continue moving the deal forward by getting the prospect to think ahead.

6. "If I were to send over a contract today, would you feel confident signing?"

Really listen to their answer. If they say, "Yes, but ... " you've encountered an objection, but one you can now question further to understand and solve for. This question might also push them to realize they don't have any further concerns and are ready to buy.

Regardless, you'll know where you stand with your prospect once they've answered this closing question.

8. "Have I done enough to earn your business today?"

It's a simple and humbling question. Your prospect will likely try to answer with a paragraph's response, but try holding them to a "yes" or a "no" first. The answer might be, "No," but it allows you to dig deeper to understand what objections still exist.

9. "We've been playing phone tag for a while now. Am I right in assuming this isn't a priority for your business at the moment?"

Sometimes, they're just not that into your offer, and that's alright. Know when it's time to stop reaching out, but make sure they haven't just had a lot of their plate.

If your prospect is truly not interested, this question gives them the opportunity to get out. If they've just been a little busy but do see value in your offer, this may give them the push they need to make your conversations a priority.

Want to learn more? Check out a list of sales closing techniques and why they work.

Editor's note: This post was originally published on August 14, 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Originally published Nov 14, 2019 4:36:00 PM, updated November 14 2019

Topics:

Sales Closing Techniques