Tim HuffakerNow that I have your attention, I don’t really know ninety-nine ways to close a sale.  

I couldn’t even remember ninety-nine ways to close a sale.  I have done some research and discovered an author that knows fifty ways to close a sale and one who teaches seven methods for closing a sale and another who explained twenty-five ways to close a sale.  I’ve been selling for forty years, not counting peddling eggs when I was seven years old and “hawking” home-made root beer at a construction site when I was twelve.  There are several principles and skills used by salespeople to complete a sale, but to my knowledge, there is only one sure way to close a sale.

My statement, “only one sure way to close a sale” doesn’t mean sales won’t be closed in different ways or for other reasons.  What I am saying is more sales will be closed consistently using the method I’m going to explain, than any other way.  Keep in mind, selling is not an event, but rather a process, so there are several principles and skills that are applied in the process of successfully closing a sale.

Several years ago, I worked with a man who claimed he was born with the secret talent necessary for closing more sales than his peers.  He believed the secret was his “gift of gab”. If John had evaluated the reason for his sales success, he would have realized he was only selling to people with whom he had a relationship.  He sold in the Southern States to his “good ole boy network”.  John was successful to the degree of his relationships, not because he was born with the gift of gab.

My good friend Bill was an excellent salesperson.  His secret was a photographic memory.  Bill could remember every word and statement made by his prospects, and earned their respect based on knowing what they had said.  He never forgot a name or a face, even if years had passed from the time he first met someone.  Bill’s brilliance was not the reason for his sales success, but the principle of remembering names and events contributed to his “better than average” performance.

Another associate of mine, and his name just happens to be Bill also, was recognized by his peers, customers and prospects, as the most technically astute salesperson in the industry.  Bill had forgotten more technical knowledge than I had ever learned.  He believed his sales success was totally attributed to his technical knowledge.  Truth be known, Bill lost as many sales due to his knowledge as he ever closed.  Knowledge is a vital element in closing sales, but without applying other supporting principles, it will never make a top salesperson.

Jeff was one of the hardest working salespeople I have ever met.  He never worked fewer than ten hours per day.  Every day he gave his total effort to selling.  He would generate more quotes than anyone else in the company.  He rarely missed an opportunity to bid.   He would work and bid and while he was waiting for replies to his bids, he would bid some more.  Finding, bidding, waiting, finding, bidding, waiting was his daily grind.  Hats off to Jeff, one of the hardest working salespeople anywhere.  He had been taught that working hard brought sales.  Working hard will bring sales, hard work is a correct principle, but working hard without working smart will never allow you to become your best.

What then, is the one sure way to close a sale?  Let me give you an outline by listing several principles that need to be applied during the sales process, then you can determine how best to apply them.  All of these principles are important, so don’t shortcut the process.  The order of the principles listed is also critical, so keep them in order.  This process assumes you will (a) work hard at selling, and you will (b) follow-up consistently.  Here are the basic principles, which when followed, will constitute the one sure method of closing the sale.  Remember, closing a sale is a process:

  1. Prospect every day.

  2. Build rapport and sell yourself.

  3. Assess the prospects needs (really listen).

  4. Present your product as a solution to their need (be honest and specific).

  5. Ask for, and resolve their concerns (all of them).

  6. Ask for the sale.

Remember: (a) People buy from people they believe, like and trust (b) People typically only buy when they have a need (c) People don’t buy if they have unresolved concerns (d) Never assume, always ask for the sale!

Don't use gimmicky or disingenuous ways to close a sale. Applying all of the principles outlined above will make closing the sale a natural consequence of your actions.