Closing: Asking for Commitments

There are several commitments you need to close a sale. Below is a brief overview of them.

The commitments needed:

Many people think of closing as the final commitment, or the commitment to buy. Closing is more complex than that. It involves obtaining all the commitments needed to close and obtain opportunities.
Closing happens in stages, every time you ask a customer to move forward you enter a new stage.

1) Commitment of time:
You can’t create opportunity unless you get the commitment for time, you gain this commitment by prospecting which is a critical activity for sales professionals. You must ask for and secure the prospect’s time very early, and often in the sales process. This can sometimes be the most difficult commitment to obtain because of how busy your prospect might be or budgetary concerns.

2) The commitment to explore:
As you work through the discovery faze, your clients are making their own discoveries about themselves and about you. You need a commitment from them to explore ways you might work together to make changes and improvements.

3) Commitment to change:
If your prospective clients aren’t committed to change; what you have are leads not opportunities. Neither their needs, budgetary concern nor the value you can bring to them means a thing at this point. You must first secure a commitment to change.

4) Commitment to collaborate:
You may have the best solution in the world but until your clients had their ideas and solutions changed from yours to ours, you are not where you need to be. Your prospective clients have ideas about what they need and how they need it delivered. Ask them to collaborate with you in building solutions.

5) Commitment to build consensus:
Winning a large complex opportunity requires commitment from the dream client as well as its executive team, individual stakeholders, and the groups they represent. Get a commitment to meet with all the people on the buying committee as well as those who will be impacted by what you deliver.

6) Commitment to invest:
Your dream clients must commit to investing the time, money, and energy necessary to produce the necessary results. This is crucial, if they can produce the same results without making these investments they would already be doing so.
7) Commitment to review:
All the stakeholders involved in making the decision must review the solution proposed. They need to review what you proposed so they can have the opportunity to make adjustments. Ask for this commitment to review once you are certain your solution suits your clients needs and will produce the desired outcome.

8) Commitment to resolve concerns:
You need a commitment from your prospective client to give feedback on your presentation so you can resolve any anxiety she may have. Such concerns may be resolved by providing proof, walking the client through an implementation plan or simply by spending time answering her questions. Never leave a meeting without asking to meet again to discuss any concerns.

9) Commitment to decide:
You need to ask for the commitment to move forward together, this particular commitment is what we refer to as, the close. Without it you get nowhere. However, this commitment is often mistakenly believed to be the only commitment that matters. The fact is that early commitments are just as crucial but often are even harder to gain.

10) Commitment to execute:
At this point you’ve made the sale and you must execute on what you have sold them. This means that you must ask them to make the necessary changes that enable you to execute. Their ability to execute is just as important as yours.
To obtain commitments obtains value:
To get commitments from your prospects you must earn the right to ask for them. If you have created value for your dream client they can see the value of moving forward together; you have the right and a duty to ask for this commitment. But you must do the necessary work before asking, at several points along the way examine your interactions through your clients eyes. Seek to demonstrate your understanding of his situation and seek to add more value where needed.

Commitments 1,2 and 3:
When prospective clients are just beginning to understand the need for change, create value by helping them explore and understand their current problems as well as the need for change.

Commitments 2,3 and 4:
Once they understand the need for change help them decide what they require to move forward to a better future state.

Commitments 5,6,7 and 8
When they evaluate their options help them understand and select from a range of available choices, clearly differentiate your offering from your competitors.

Commitments 8,9 and 10
When they are trying to make an informed decision, help resolve concerns and mitigate risk.

You’ll gain commitments more easily when you link the value you create during one sales interaction to the value you will create in the next interaction. To create value on every sales call, at every step along the way, you must leave the client in a better position than they were before the call. This value chain, makes it easier to say yes at every step along the way. When you know you have created value at every step along the way you can naturally and comfortably ask for her business.

To obtain a commitment you need to be able to explain the value of moving forward. This is easy at the end of the sales cycle. When you have a return on investment analysis on hand it’s easy to explain the value of moving forward. But what about at the beginning of the sales cycle and at all the little steps between opening and closing.

Every sales call must have its own value proposition, you must promise some insight that your dream client can use whether or not he ever hires you. If you ask your dream client to give you time to meet the additional stakeholders you must promise to build consensus in that group, making his job easier.
During the discovery phase of the sales cycle, give your client a fresh perspective on his situation, a deeper understanding of the implications of not changing, and a clear vision of how his future will be made better. Those are value-creating outcomes.

Value Value Value:
No matter how large or small the sale is, you must ask for and obtain the commitment to do business. In fact, you will be asking for many commitments along the long sales process. Each and every commitment is a close, all are opportunities to create value for your client which leads to sales and satisfied customers.

3 ways to improve your ability to close
All the commitments are important; however, you must be able to ask for the business, the close, in the right way. You are right to resist hard sell closing techniques. These do not work.
Powerful tools that help you lead to the commitment to close the deal without violating your clients’ trust.

1) Know your outcome:
Do you truly know which specific outcome you seek; people often mistake activity for outcome, but they are not the same. A sales call is an activity not an outcome. The desired outcome of the sales call is a commitment that moves an opportunity forward. Before every sales call decide what you want the outcome to be and remember that it must always be a commitment that moves the sale forward.

This is often the most important but overlooked part of the process. Draw up a list of the stages of your sales cycle with all the commitments you need from beginning to closing the deal. Refer to this list before every sales interaction to know which commitment you expect to obtain.

2) Use natural honest language:
The best closing languages are other-oriented, not self-oriented. Instead of tricks or manipulation simply ask for the client’s business.

Be polite, professional, and direct. You might say something like:

Thanks for allowing me to present our solution today, what we put together will help you achieve the desired outcomes that you shared with me during this process. I want you to know that we will own and deliver our part of those outcomes. If we have done enough to earn your business, id like to ask you for the opportunity to help with this project. Can we begin working on this project now?

Do not worry about objections or concerns, when they give them to you, you can address them. If they don’t give you any reasons for saying no you might ask

Is there something else we need to do first?

No matter how they respond to your presentation never leave a meeting without saying something like

We really want the opportunity to work with you and we wont let you down

By asking for the business directly you demonstrate that you truly want to work with them and are likely to be just as direct at achieving their goals. You demonstrate that you are a strong competitor.

  1. Ask for commitments after creating value:

Closing is natural and easy as long as you’ve earned the right to ask for and receive it. which you do by creating value during each and every sales interaction. Make a list of the benefits the client will receive by moving forward in the sale.

  • How does the client benefit from moving forward to the next stage of the buying cycle with me?
  • What does she get out of it?
  • If at some point the client goes no further in the process, would she have received enough value for her time she’s invested?
    -What can I do to make sure this meeting is worth the client’s time?

Answering these questions will allow you to be confident when asking for commitments from the client. Closing is the first skill or attribute you must possess, not only because you must close the deal but also because you must close on the ability to have the possibility to even work together in the first place.