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How to Close a Sale

Three Parts:Easing Into the CloseClosing the SaleMaking a Lasting (Favorable) Impression

Whether you're a sales associate at a retail store or a small business owner, getting a customer to buy a product or service you have to offer means financial success for you and satisfaction for your customers. Anyone can sell a product or service, but making the most of a sale and getting customers to come back to you takes some practice and skill. Here are some simple steps to get you on the right track to being a good salesperson.

Part 1
Easing Into the Close

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    Greet and engage your customer. Even though you are participating in a business transaction, there's nothing wrong with befriending the person you will be selling to. Making a customer welcome will give them comfort in purchasing what you have to offer to them.
    • Smile with your eyes. The human subconscious can easily detect a fake smile from a real one.[1] How? Real smiles activate the eyes, whereas fake smiles don't.
    • Be careful about maintaining too much eye contact. Researchers at Harvard University have found that salespeople who maintain eye gazes actually may discourage would-be buyers.[2] The theory here is that eye-contact signifies dominance — not something that makes you want to buy.
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    Qualify their needs. Spend as long as necessary qualifying a customer so that you sell them what they need. There's nothing worse than selling a product or service that the customer is later dissatisfied with. The best and most commonly used question in qualifying is, "What will you be using this for?" Continue to ask questions to narrow down the search for what the customer really wants. This shows a willingness to learn and a legitimate interest in the needs of the customer.
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    Recommend the right product or service. It is important to understand how all of the products and services you have to offer work. By understanding this, you'll be able to offer the one that best fits your customer's needs. Be sure to offer as many relevant products or services that you have to enhance customer satisfaction.
    • Many successful restaurants allow servers to sample each item in the menu — free of charge — in order to develop a feel for what they are selling. That way, they can combine expertise and experience in their sales pitch when a diner asks "What do you recommend?"
    • Make it your job to test many, if not all, of the items you are selling. Customers can smell amateurism and disinterest from a mile away. Even if the item(s) you're offering don't come discounted or free of charge, make it part of your job to test them out.
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    Listen and watch for buying signals from your customer. Buying signals can be both verbal and non-verbal. Questions like, "How may this benefit me?" or "What product most suits my needs?" are classic examples of verbal buying signals. Non-verbal buying signals (if you are dealing with a customer in person) might include the customer holding or using a product as if they already owned it.
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    Close the sale. Once you observe buying signals, stop selling and close the sale. A common mistake that can lose a sale is to continue to sell and offer products/services after the customer has already indicated that they are willing to make the purchase.

Part 2
Closing the Sale

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    Think about opening with a direct or indirect close. These are two of the most basic closes. You may want to learn toward the indirect close at first. Unless you are pretty sure that the customer is chomping at the bit and is ready to make the deal, the direct close is somewhat discouraged among sales circles.
    • Direct Close: "May I write this up for you?" or "Should I forward a contract so you can get started?"
    • Indirect Close: "How do these terms look to you?" "Is this agreeable to you?"
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    Try the balance sheet close if you want to appeal to the customer's rational side. A lot of sales situations are really emotional decisions in which the buyer has convinced him- or herself they're making a rational decision. (Buying a car, for example.) Still, some sales situations are really all about rational pros and cons. Use the balance sheet close, also known as the Ben Franklin close, to appeal to the rational customer:
    • In the balance sheet close, the salesperson will make a list of the pros and cons with the customer.[3] The good salesperson will make sure that the pros outnumber and outweigh the cons.
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    Try the puppy dog close if you're confident in your product. The puppydog close is often employed by — you guessed it — pet store owners by letting doubtful customers take home a puppy with the option of returning it if the customer is unhappy. The customer takes the puppy home, plays with them, and the sale is effectively cinched, not by the salesperson, but by the puppy.[4] If you're confident that what you're selling has lots of appeal and will be hard to give up once it's been used and enjoyed, this is a great closing technique to use.
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    Try the assumptive close only with considerable skill. The assumptive close is where the salesperson knowingly assumes that the customer has already agreed to purchase the item and begins to wrap up the sale: "The sound system is just killer. And I promise you that you'll fall in love with the V8 — she really purrs. Now, did you want it in black or red?" Notice how the salesperson assumes that the sale is closed; she doesn't give the customer a chance to object.[5] The pitfalls of this approach are pretty obvious; use with caution!
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    Learn to appeal to emotions. Emotions are an extremely powerful thing, especially when coupled with money. If you learn to massage the emotions of your potential customers without making them feel manipulated, you're in for a payday:
    • Try the possibility of loss close: This is where the salesperson tries to close a sale by noting that the product is going to run out or that it won't be available at its rock-bottom price for much longer. This appeals to customer's sense of regret.
    • Try the cradle to grave close: This close also appeals to a customer's sense of regret. In it, the salesperson rebuts a potential customer's objection that it's too soon to buy by saying that it's never too soon to make a major life purchase.
    • Try the sales contest close: This is where the salesperson offers a small incentive to the customer, such as a modest rebate, justifying it by mentioning that you stand to gain if you close. "If I make this sale, my wife and I get to go on a cruise." This appeals to the customer's sense of guilt; their fate is interlocked in yours.
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    Try to angle your way in with the minor point close. The minor close assumes that agreement about a minor issue means agreement about the sale. "Would you prefer our wireless service with your current package? No? Alright, we'll leave it minus the wireless."
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    Close with one or two negative assumptions. Repeating questions like "Is there anything about the product you're still unsure of?" or "Is there any reason you wouldn't want to pull the trigger?" puts the customer in a situation where they are not given the option to refuse the sale. Continue asking them negative assumption questions until they agree to the sale.

Part 3
Making a Lasting (Favorable) Impression

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    Stay with the buyer as much as possible without pestering them. If you're constantly shuttling back and forth between your manager's office, you begin to sow doubt in the potential customer's mind. Try to stay with your customer as much as possible after you sniff out the initial interest. Use your precious minutes to continue the sales process and convince the customer that their choice is really the one they want to make.
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    Don't upsell unless it's what the customer wants. Upselling is the art of selling the customer additional items or pricier items than what they originally intended. ("Would you like to supersize your order?") Upselling can work in some cases where the customer doesn't truly know what they want, but too many salespeople use the trick with abandon. There are two very good reasons to mistrust the upsell in most sales situations:
    • It can make the customer feel bad/unsure about their original purchase. If the customer is unsure about their purchase in the first place, the best the salesperson can do is close the sale as quickly as possibly. Upselling often forces us to question what we wouldn't have otherwise.
    • It can discourage repeat business. A lot of really great salespeople survive from repeat, business. If you upsell someone something they really don't want, they won't go to you for business a second or third time.
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    Stay confident, no matter how daunting the close becomes.[6] Being a salesperson is all about staying confident. Each failed close makes a case for inadequacy and sows doubt, but not for you: You remain confident even in the face of peril. You believe in yourself. Because each time a customer buys something from you, they hope to buy a little bit of your confidence along with the car, the mortgage, the vacuum. Remember that. Plan for a close on each call or customer you take.
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    Follow-up. Good follow-up is essential to getting repeat customers. Offer to help the customer with any questions or concerns they have about the product or service you are selling after you've made the sale. Verify that all products were received to their satisfaction and to let you know if they have any questions whatsoever.


  • Even if you can't close a sale, still make the customer's experience a pleasant one. If they don't buy from you today, they may come back to you later.
  • Know your products and services. Nothing is better than being confident and knowledgeable about what you're selling to your customers.
  • If the customer does not give you any buying signals, use a "trial close" to see if they are interested in making the purchase. If they accept a close, then you've made the sale. Otherwise, continue to qualify them.
  • Take your time. Even if you or the customer is pressed for time, it's entirely necessary to offer everything they will need and properly qualify them.
  • Don't be afraid to use some humor to break the ice, but know when to be serious.


  • STOP selling after the customer gives you buying signals. If you continue to offer them other options, they may become unsure about their purchase and end up not buying.
  • If you're making a sale to a customer in person, look professional. There's no need to overdo your appearance, but looking presentable will make the customer more confident about buying from you.

Article Info

Categories: Sales