How *not* to close deals

It all comes down to the close. That’s the nature of B2B selling.

Rory Sadler
December 21, 2023
March 20, 2024
It all comes down to the close. That’s the nature of B2B selling.
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It all comes down to the close. That’s the nature of B2B selling.

You can initially target the wrong person, make introductory faux-pas, send out typos and errors on your marketing communications, and tank pretty much everything else, but still nail the job if you manage to pull off the close.

Safe to say, you have to get this right. There are many recommendations and guidelines for closing. But let’s focus on a few things that can derail your mission. Here are ten things not to do when you close.

1. Not Using the Discovery Call to Your Benefit

The discovery call opens the relationship between sales representatives and prospects. The better this goes, the better your chances of winning the deal.

This has to be much more than a meet-and-greet or getting to know you session. Make sure that your discovery calls create value for both you and the potential buyer.

You don’t want buyers to end the call feeling like they just experienced a “fishing expedition.” You also don’t want to waste time covering areas that you already know about, can easily find out, or aren’t relevant to the value you generate.

That’s what happens when you run through a litany of questions that are basic or irrelevant.

Salesforce found that in the most effective discovery calls, sales consultants asked prospects between 11 to 14 questions that focused on three to four critical business problems.

That’s how you create a call that doesn’t waste a buyer’s time, digs into their pain, and sets you up as the right person to close with.

2. Not Asking Questions

Questions help you build rapport, uncover hidden needs, get your prospect to think, and demonstrate your level of insight.

They also work to create agreement and force the prospect to respond to you – whether audibly or in their minds.

That’s exactly what you want in a close.

Have you ever sat through a sales pitch that just bombarded you with point after point and barely gave you time to think?

You probably found yourself mentally disengaging at some point. You may have even been in complete disagreement with a sales rep who assumed you were both on the same page.

You never want that to happen during a close.

Make sure you don’t end up in a one-way conversation. Even the most convincing sales argument or sequence becomes more powerful when peppered with a question or two (or four).

3. Not Creating a Sense of FOMO

What will it cost your prospect to miss out on the deal? How dire a price will they pay? If they can’t feel that on a visceral level, your chances of closing the deal are much lower.

Your close has to stoke some serious FOMO. That might be due to time sensitivity, scarcity, exclusivity, or other factors.

It should all add up to a feeling of urgency. This is a time-tested sales tactic that creates psychological pressure to close.

The psychological term for this is the mere urgency effect. Urgency creates such a strong impetus to act that unimportant tasks perceived as urgent tend to take precedence over important ones. That works even when there is only an illusion of possibly missing out.

It’s a cognitive bias that leadership advisors are always railing against. They see it as one of the biggest threats to clear-minded decision-making. And that’s why you need to take full advantage of it.

4. Not Understanding the Hoops Your Buyer Has to Jump Through

FOMO is great, but B2B buying doesn’t happen on a whim. Virtually every buyer has a process to follow that entails certain checks and balances.

If you don’t understand what step they are at or what hurdles they are facing, you might find yourself trying to close someone who can’t move that far forward at that time.

·   Are there legal or accounting reviews that need to take place?

·   Do other vendors need to be considered even though the buyer likes what you have to offer?

·   Does the finance department need to get involved?

Understand where they are in the purchasing process and what they’re up against. There may be ways for you to assist them and get the deal done faster.

5. Focusing on Those That Can’t Buy

This is a classic mistake. You might go through an entire sales sequence only to discover when closing, that your target doesn’t have the authority or influence it takes to make the purchase.

That’s a nightmare scenario. It wastes your time and resources while leaving that potential customer open to competitors. It’s a core sales mistake to avoid at all times.

Are you selling to and closing your true buyer? The easiest person to reach isn’t necessarily the right contact to make. The most enthusiastic person in the company isn’t always your buyer.

This has to be done with lead qualification.

6. Letting the Close Breathe

Don’t give your buyer too much breathing room when you close. That means, don’t alleviate their psychological pressure or break any final tension by offering ways to escape the closing proposition.

Closes are often peppered with silence as buyers consider the deal you’re presenting them with. It can be tempting to break that. Resist that.

Don’t provide them (or yourself) with easy outs by offering alternative choices before they’ve had a chance to respond. Eliminate words like “or” and “and”.

You interrupt their thinking process, signal to them that you lack confidence in the deal going through, and you run the risk of thwarting a successful deal.

It’s much better to let them answer the real closing question that will lead to your preferred scenario than to interject with several alternatives that may be more amenable to them.

If they say no, you can then move on to other options.

7. Talking and Not Active Listening

We’ve touched on this already. The close needs to be a fine balance of sales points, questioning, and spaces for listening.

Here are three things you don’t want:

·   For your close to be a monologue

·   To fill up every silence

·   To turn the close into a general, friendly chat

We can’t discount the value of active listening within a close. You have to leave room for a buyer to consider the deal in silence. And allow them to respond fully.

The more you can become comfortable with having gaps of silence throughout the conversation, the stronger your closes will be. The more you can silence any impulses to interrupt a buyer and argue your point, the more insight and power you gain.

The second you have the go-ahead, stop! There’s nothing more to be said once that goal is met. It’s now time for you to wrap up the close.

8. Not Knowing the Buyer’s Decision-Making Steps

Familiarize yourself with the buyer’s internal decision-making. What will this buyer need to get done should they decide to go ahead with the deal? Who exactly is in their buying group? How do they form a consensus? And what will it take to close everyone else?

You should be aware of every stakeholder or influencer’s decision-making process. Work to get this information early in the sales cycle. The discovery call and later “getting to know you” conversations are perfect times to gather this intelligence.

You may want to check into:

·   Procurement requirements

·   Board involvement

·   Sign-off steps or checkpoints

You can then build the intel into your approach, using it to customize your outreach for every significant person.

9. Not Closing a Sales Directly

You can’t close a sale by relying on a third party’s say-so. If they don’t have the authority to seal the deal, get to the person who does and close them.

Sales consultants make this mistake all the time. It can happen when you fail to verify who the true buyer is or fall into the trap of staying within a comfort zone with one or two contacts.

Once you get in with someone at a target organization, it can be easy to focus on developing that relationship alone without taking things higher up. That mistake nearly always backfires.

Selling to someone without closing power isn’t productive or strategic. It can create the illusion that you’re making progress when, in reality, that person isn’t the one to get the deal done.

Of course, you can’t simply ignore minor players and secondary stakeholders. Anyone with enough influence to sway the purchasing decision has to be sold to. That’s where ongoing stakeholder management comes into play.

But when it comes to the close, always close directly with the individual who has buying authority.

10. Making It Complicated for the Buyer to Close

It shouldn’t be overly complicated for buyers to do business with you. That should go without saying. However, some sellers do this inadvertently while attempting to put pressure on buyers or trying to create a sense of prestige or exclusiveness.

The B2B buying process is complex enough on its own. You don’t have to make things tricky for them – especially not when selling in a hyper-competitive space.

The digitalization and virtualization of sales have made pretty much every industry more competitive. It’s a lot easier for you – and your competition – to reach prospects, make multiple account connections, and keep hammering away at a deal.

In this environment, you want to make it as easy as possible for the buyer to move forwards and close the deal with you. That might happen during a one-on-one sales conversation where you personally close them.

But buyers are often ready to close when you’re not around. Are you facilitating their desire to do so and securing the deal in that instant? Or are you leaving buyers open to poaching and losing momentum through delays and complications?

Try a Smart Closing Tool

Taking a B2B sale from mere interest level to close takes a lot of work. This is where trumpet comes in.

With trumpet, you can swiftly create your own microsite (or Pod, as we like to call it) personalised with your buyer’s branding and colours. These Pods will become your own Digital Sales Room, Customer Portal or collaborative workspace , with the opportunity to create and assign tasks to create accountability and visibility with the next steps. You can even track engagement and see who’s peeking at your Pod, so that you can have better conversations.

It’s a smart dynamic selling tool that helps you manage the deal from start to close while enabling your buyers to close faster and easier.

It makes things smooth and effortless for you and your buyers while giving them a rich, interactive experience. It’s what you need to close deals in an ultra-competitive, digitalized environment.