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Sell Like a Pro: The Pre-Close Technique

08 September 2021

There are many different sales techniques out there, all with their pros and cons and not all will be suited to your service or products. What is important is how your salespeople are engaging with prospects throughout the sales process, no matter what it entails.

The pre-close technique involves short, opinion-asking questions, that enable a salesperson to establish the mood of the buyer and their responsiveness during the sales process. In doing this, it becomes much easier to move the prospect forward and to complete the sale.

The salesperson’s most valuable tool

Good salespeople often speak of an instinct, which tells them when to go in for the kill and make the sale. With these questions, you can take the guesswork out of the equation.

By asking these questions you can essentially gauge the temperature and interest of a prospect. As well as providing feedback on whether or not they are following everything as they should be and taking all the information in, it helps to evaluate their readiness for the ‘close’.

Not simply asking for the sale

Pre-close type questions are opinion-asking; testing and checking. They assess mood but don’t necessarily ask for action:

“How do you feel about […]?”

“How does that sound?”

“What haven’t I covered yet that is important to you?”

The point of these questions is to help to create and sustain conversation and they should be used as frequently as possible.

Questions that ask for the sale prompt for action and will inevitably bring the discussion to a conclusion. They will usually come at the very end of your presentation or proposal to the prospect:

“let me check if we have the right contact details for your contract”

“When do you want to start implementation?”

When asking for the sale you are suggesting the next steps, so concluding the current phase of the sale. They help the prospect through the “fear” stage of the buying process and encourage them to take an action.

3 categories

As you will see above, there are 3 different categories of pre-close questions to be aware of:

Tie-Downs

These are closed questions that ask the prospect to agree with you. They are trying to elicit a certain response from the prospect and, by themselves, will not reveal much information. Tie-downs should only be used after the discovery stage to maintain momentum.

Examples:

“Does that make sense?”

“That is [better, easier, faster, .…], right?”

“Would that be a benefit in your situation?”

Trial Close

If your prospect is a closed kind of person and doesn’t give much away, it may be difficult to tell if the right information is being absorbed or not. These questions can be used at any point in the process to get the conversation going. They should help you to learn more information about your prospect so that you can make better progress.

Examples:

“Based on what you have heard so far, what are your questions?”

“How is [..] sounding so far?”

”How would you use that?”

Pro-close

The last category is pro-close and they go part-way to asking for a sale but in a softer way than usual. You can utilise these towards the end of the process as they will help to establish if the close can be made. Think of this as a way to help the prospect better imagine your product or service working for them, putting them in a position where they can also bring up any objections or concerns for you to address.

Examples:

“How do you expect your […] to do/ think when you implement [the solution]?”

“If I can satisfy your concerns/ requirement regarding [….], are you happy to proceed?”

For your business

As we say so often, every business is different so there is no one size fits all. In order to devise the kind of pre-close questions that will work for your business you need to think of questions that are:

  1. Open-ended – cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” – the aim is to get your prospect talking!
  2. Engage emotion, not just logic and rationale. E.g. “How do you feel about that?”
  3. Flexible enough to be used in multiple situations

For more on asking the right kinds of questions and understanding the correct approach when dealing with sales, you can read about using DISC profiling to determine how best to address a prospect and how they are likely to react in certain scenarios.

There is certainly a lot of value in implementing these kinds of questions in your sales process and I hope this helps you to improve sales conversion for your business.

If you would like any help with any of these techniques or with any other aspect of your business please feel free to get in touch. We would love to help you with any concerns or challenges you are facing right now.

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