The sales process

Negotiate and close the sale


During the sales meeting, you should try to:

  • Find out if the customer has a particular budget for this purchase.
  • Identify buying signals - the prospects may repeatedly nod their heads in agreement or have a positive tone to their questions.
  • Sell in a 'consultative' way instead of using pressure and hard selling tactics.
  • Trade concessions - eg on price or warranties - as opposed to giving them away.
  • Close the sale, and if you can't do so, offer to return with a tailored proposal in a few days.
  • Be ready to take the order, with the necessary paperwork.
  • Remember 'ABC' - Always Be Closing. Once closed, stop selling and leave - you don't have to continue if your customer says "yes" early on in the meeting.

Listening carefully will help you to prepare for questions later on.

Handling and overcoming objections constructively is a critical part of this process.

Try to establish the real reason behind objections:

  • clarify what they are unsure of by repeating it back to them
  • ask them if they will sign the order if you can overcome the objection
  • set out how you can resolve the issue
  • modify their expectations if you can't fully resolve the issue

There may be a period of negotiation to agree on the details.

It is tempting to end up in a negotiation on the final cost of the deal, as it is almost certainly one of the elements that the client will try to negotiate on. However, if you have set your price realistically, it is rarely advantageous to compromise on price.

For more information, see price your product or service.

If the client insists on a price reduction, offer to give them a discount based on a larger order or alter some elements of the proposed package.

Whatever happens in the negotiation, remain assertive but polite at all times.

Consider all sensible offers but don't agree to a condition too quickly and if the negotiations break down, outline the sticking point and your final offer to resolve it.

Different closing techniques

If you sense that directly asking for the business won't work, you could try:

  • giving them an alternative - eg "Do you want the green or the red one?"
  • assuming they will sign - eg "What day is best for us to deliver the goods?"
  • the 'conditional' close - eg "If I could satisfy you on this point, could we proceed with this order?"

In all cases, make sure you allow the buyer time to say "yes". If there is a pause after you have tried a closing question, let the potential client speak first.

If you can't close on the day

If you are convinced that the client will not sign an order at the meeting but they still seem interested, offer to return with a tailored proposal. Confirm a date and time for a second meeting - ideally within a few days of the current meeting.

You may decide that the client is not ready to buy and may never be a serious prospect. If this is the case, politely thank them for their time and offer to keep in touch.

Remember, however, to ask them if they know of anyone else who may be interested in your product or service. For more information, see sales follow-up and relationship building.