At its core, sales is all about helping people solve problems.
Whether you’re a relationship builder or a challenger, a hard worker or a problem solver, the key to closing deals is showing your prospects how the value you add can solve their business challenges.
Many companies have websites, resources, and processes designed to help educate folks on what you do and nurture qualified leads through the sales cycle. While we don’t doubt their effectiveness, at some point you need to do away with the automation and get face-to-face with your potential buyer or champion for a good ol’ fashioned conversation.
Because the best way to show value is to ask the right questions.
This is especially true at the closing stages of the sales process. There are plenty of effective sales closing techniques out there, and almost all of them revolve around asking thoughtful, direct, well-timed questions.
The next time your prospect is on the fence at closing time and you find yourself wondering if you’re going to get this deal over the line, try these battle-tested sales closing questions designed to bring it home.
1. Are you ready to get started?
Reps spend plenty of time and effort moving an opportunity along the sales cycle but one thing they can often forget is to actually ask for the close. This question is one way to do just that. By asking a potential client if they’re ready to get started, it gets them thinking about working together and gives them a last chance to voice their concerns if there’s something standing in the way.
2. What do you think of what we have discussed so far?
While it might seem obvious, this question is more useful than you might think because it’s ideal for kicking off the closing conversation immediately after your pitch.
It never hurts to gauge how your prospect is feeling about your proposal or offering because it’s not always obvious. After all, if you don’t ask, you might not find out until it’s too late.
You can use this as an opportunity to check in with your prospect, address any concerns they might have, set expectations for your arrangement, or jump to the signature stage if they’re already sold.
3. Are we still on track to hit your timeline for launch?
No matter how proactive you might be, there’s still a long list of reasons why your deal could get delayed. Whether your prospect has other priorities, trouble securing funding, logistical issues, or whatever else, it’s important to keep your eye on the finish line.
When things start to delay, it's important to lean on the prospect’s reasons and timeline for purchasing your product or service. By referencing their timeline, you're playing to the possibility of them missing a compelling or critical event that they've committed to within their organization. If you’re on track, you can ask them what they need to move forward. If you’re not, you can work with them to figure out how to get back on track, or how you can accommodate them to make it work.
4. What did I miss?
When deals stall at later stages, it can be because something was missed earlier in the sales cycle. If a critical item was overlooked, there’s a good chance the prospect is trying to clear it up themselves. Or they’re simply hesitant to bring it up for fear of hurting your feelings.
Asking if you’ve missed anything gives them a chance to speak up about their doubts or provide clarification. After clearing the air, you can amend your offering to get the deal back on track.
The main reason sales reps get ghosted is not because prospects don’t like the deal—it’s because they don’t want to tell you no. This simple closing question can help prevent that from happening.
5. What are the next steps?
If you’ve followed a good process so far you’ve been diligently setting next steps to ensure the deal flows smoothly through the sales cycle. Closing it out is no different. It’s critical to establish milestones for how the close will proceed. There are a number of ways you can do this depending on the situation and your intentions:
What does your final decision-making process look like?
Are all of the required stakeholders involved in this deal?
What's the timeline for making a decision?
While all of these questions sound very different, they all have the same conclusion: they tell you where the close is headed. With this question, you can learn what you need to do to keep the deal moving, when you can expect to close, who you need to include in the closing conversation, and if there are any major bottlenecks you should anticipate. If there are potential blockers ahead, ask what they are. Like so:
6. What could stop this deal from happening?
This question goes a step further than those listed above because it’s more direct. Instead of hoping that your prospect might reveal potential obstacles when they explain the next steps, with this question you can just straight up ask them what those obstacles are.
This question is especially useful if you're working a deal with multiple stakeholders and decision makers, because it reveals exactly who needs to be involved and how. What does procurement need to see before they give the deal the green light? How should you communicate with the person who ultimately signs your proposal? Do folks from IT/security/legal/finance need to give their tick of approval?
The reality is, you won't always have a direct line to the decision maker. If you’re selling a multithreaded deal, you need to lean on your champion to make sure all of these potential obstacles are covered so you can ensure that your deal keeps moving in the right direction.
7. What will change if we push the deal back?
Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right. Whether you suggest it yourself to save the deal or the idea comes from your prospect, it might make sense to push the project to a later date. With that said, if a deal is going to be delayed, it's important to understand what would be different down the road so that you can understand what needs to happen in order for the deal to work.
It could be something major like an additional round of funding or more internal resources, but it could also be something you can work around. Maybe they just need to reallocate their budget or finish an expiring contract with an existing provider, but if you don’t ask, you won’t know. On the flip side, if there's a legit reason it has to be delayed, knowing the reason why can help you figure out how to nurture the account and pick-up where you left off when the time is right.
8. How can I help?
Sometimes there are major barriers holding the prospect back, but other times, all they need to commit is some executive love. Having a peer (VP, Director, C-level) from your organization reach out and offer support to get the deal done can motivate them to hit the sign & accept button pretty quickly.
Closing is tricky, but it gets easier when you can really connect with your prospect. Next time you’re having trouble getting a deal across the finish line, try these sales closing questions to get in their head and see your pitch from their perspective. With the right timing and delivery, you can help them break through any reservations, map out next steps, and transition them from prospect to client.