How to Close a Sale: 5 Tips to Help You Secure More Business

by Briana Morgaine 8 Minutes

If you’re following along with my articles here on the Bidsketch blog (and color me very flattered if so), you’ll have read my recent article on how to deliver a great sales pitch. However, in the interest of covering the structure of a sales pitch overall, we didn’t go into as much depth as we could have about the aspect of the sale that concerns entrepreneurs the most: how to close a sale.

So, are you like so many other entrepreneurs, and wondering how to close a sale effectively? Keep reading.

The reality is that if you’ve followed along with the steps outlined in the article above, you’ve already set up the close—you just need to reach out and ask for it.

That being said, there are some ways that you can make closing a sale easier. These tricks won’t work unless you’ve set up your sale properly—so don’t skimp on your research and connection-building with your prospect—but they will increase your likelihood of a “yes” when you ask if they’d like to do business.

How to close a sale: 5 strategies to add to your sales pitch

1. Create a sense of urgency

How often do we make quick decisions when we know time is not really a factor? Probably not very often. We’ll wait the weekend, give it plenty of breathing room, and make the decision only when it’s convenient for us (or when the clock actually starts ticking).

It’s natural to want some time to think things over. Additionally, you don’t want to hurry your prospect unnecessarily. After all, you don’t want to start your new business relationship off on the wrong foot by rushing them into making a decision they’re not happy with.

That being said, creating some time-sensitive parameters around your offer can help speed up the process and make it easier to close a sale. Termed “urgency psychology” in the context of marketing, tactics such as urging customers to “act now” and “hurry” are known to increase conversion rates. This is based on the fact that when we interpret a situation as urgent, we experience a reduction in “cognitive friction”—that is to say, we’re less likely to overthink, wait too long, and simply lose momentum because too much time has passed.

So, wondering how to close a sale in a way that relies on urgency, but doesn’t rush your prospect into anything? Essentially, by setting very clear, time-based parameters, and potentially letting them know that the offer isn’t going to be around forever.

Let them know that you’ll follow up with them at a specific time, and would love to have a decision by then. In terms of the “before it’s gone” nature of the offer, this will depend on your business, but it doesn’t have to be inauthentic (“Act quickly, before it’s too late! This offer ends soon!”). For example, letting your prospect know that you have plans to increase your rates at a certain time or that you may fill up with projects for the particular period is a way to let them know that they should act quickly—yes, before it’s too late.

Note that this shouldn’t be employed immediately—you don’t want your first contact with your prospect to involve a hard sell and a “if you sign today, you’ll lock in x rate—but only if you sign right now!” This will drive away customers that might need more time to think but will still be prepared to ultimately say yes. So, a light touch is best here. It’s a delicate balance, but the reality is the urgency is a powerful motivator, and can be implemented in a way that is subtle, yet impactful.

2. Lean on your prospect’s fear of missing out

In the same vein as creating a sense of urgency, consider leveraging your prospect’s fear of missing out on something great.

Research suggests that our fear of missing out (you know, the acronym “FOMO” that you’ve probably come across) well predates our current age and ties back into the need to be “in the know” as a means of survival. While your sale probably isn’t tied directly to your prospect’s personal wellbeing, leveraging this “fear of missing out” can help increase the likelihood that you will be able to close your sale.

You want your prospect to feel that they are missing the opportunity of a lifetime if they say no to you—or, if that’s too extreme, they should ideally feel like they’ve passed up an opportunity that will not be easy to replicate or come across again anytime soon! Learning how to close a sale by leveraging this fear of missing out will make your prospects eager to work with you.

Again, this can be done without relying on cheap advertising tricks that feel insincere and disingenuous. The key to creating this fear of missing out in regards to closing a sale is to leverage your unique selling proposition—the thing that completely sets your business apart.

Now, there are plenty of resources on the idea of a unique selling proposition—but realistically, this “secret sauce” that sets your business apart should be built into your business (and therefore your sales pitch!) from the get-go. By working into your pitch that there truly is no comparable business able to do what you do in the way you do it, you instill a fear of missing out in your prospect. They know that if they don’t agree to work with you, they won’t have access to the unique traits you bring to the table, the specific skill set you possess, or whatever else makes up your unique selling proposition.

In terms of applying this practically, you can easily work a reminder of your unique selling proposition into your thank you follow up email, in which you schedule another meeting. Reiterate the reasons why you and your business are uniquely positioned to serve them, and articulate that it will be impossible for them to receive the exact type of service you are offering by going elsewhere.

As always, exactly how you do this will vary greatly by industry, but consider integrating a bit of this fear of missing out into your communication throughout your sales pitch and follow up correspondence to improve your chances of closing a sale.

3. Find ways to offer more value

What do you bring to the table that others don’t?

This isn’t just about your unique selling proposition, as mentioned above (though that plays a role); it’s also about setting yourself apart from the get-go, and offering more value for the same service.

Think about it: If you’ve done your market research, you’re likely offering similar prices as your competitors. Aside from your unique selling proposition, what sets you apart? Why would your prospect choose you?

Maybe you are incredibly warm and welcoming, and you’re dedicated to making your clients feel like family. Maybe you have a specific tie to their industry that will make you a better fit for a certain client’s business. Maybe you sleep with your phone on your pillow and don’t mind fielding client inquiries at any hour of the night (okay, maybe don’t do exactly this—that sounds like a recipe for poor work-life balance!). Whatever it is, find the ways that you offer value beyond just your service offering.

Your ability to offer value beyond just your product or service will make prospects more likely to go with you versus a competitor, since they get more for their money. Again, this does not mean adding on an extra amount of work, or undercutting your competition—it just means keeping an eye out for areas where you can add more value to your existing offering.

4. Avoid phrases that assume a done deal

You want to appear confident and in control, sure—but don’t put your prospect off by a superior attitude that assumes the have already signed on the dotted line. In fact, Inc. ranked the assumptive close as the number one worst sales tactic.

Why should you avoid this type language when trying to close a sale? Because, frankly, it’s a manipulative sales tactic—and obviously people don’t enjoy feeling manipulated. It assumes that your prospect is already prepared to offer you their business; rather than working out in your favor and securing the deal, it will likely backfire.

If you act as though your prospect is ready to buy when they might need more time, require answers to additional questions, or just prefer a lighter touch, the use of manipulation will send them running in the opposite direction.

Here are some phrases to avoid using before you have officially closed a deal: 

  • “So, should I sign you up for product x or product y?”
  • “When should we start rolling out the project?”
  • “Which date works best for you to get started?”

The list goes on, but you get the idea: avoid framing questions in a way that assumes your prospect has said yes before they actually have. Doing so won’t turn a yes into a no—but it might turn a maybe into a no, and you’ll be back to the drawing board, wondering how to close a sale for the millionth time.

5. Let them sell themselves on the deal

Have you considered asking your prospect directly what they think? Consider asking a simple question, such as: “It seems like [my product or service] is a good fit for [your business]. What do you think?”

If you’ve set up your sale correctly, they should know all the reasons why your product or service is a good fit for their business. Knowing that, asking them to explain, in their own words, what they think about partnering with you, can be a powerful tactic to help you close a sale. When you let your prospect discuss their feelings on the sale, if they are interested, they will likely sell themselves on your business and the benefits they stand to gain from working with you.

The goal here is to invite your prospect to articulate what they stand to gain in a way that makes it feel as though it was their great idea all along. It has been suggested that this type of unconscious persuasion is highly effective, as long as you have laid out the steps clearly, so that your prospect comes to the desired conclusion as though it was their idea all along.

Not only that, but asking your prospect to tell you what they think flips the pushy salesperson trope on its head—after all, you’re not forcing information down their throats, but listening and asking for their input. This listening, customer-forward approach will also make you appear more trustworthy.

The worst case scenario? They tell you clearly why they are not interested in pursuing your business, and it might be possible to adjust your tactics and try again—or at the very least, you’ll have some valuable data to learn from as you move forward.

At the end of the day, learning how to close a sale is a process of trial and error—your personality, the personality of your target clients, your particular market, and a number of other factors will all impact how easy it is (or isn’t) for you to close deals. However, by implementing the tips above, you’ll find it easier to close sales, build your customer base, and continue growing your business successfully.

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by Briana Morgaine
Briana is a copy writer, copy editor, and freelance writer, covering the various facets of the small business and entrepreneurship space. She can be found writing for Bplans, and also on Twitter.