Sealing The Deal
So you’ve been in negotiations with a prospective client for some time (and hopefully been making use of the advice I gave here and here), and you’re just about to put signature to contract and seal the deal. Now comes the hardest part. If any of you have ever worked in telesales (which is an absolutely dreadful job, if you’re currently in this industry I highly suggest reading the rest of my blog and starting your own business now, lest you cause yourself irreparable mental trauma), you should be intimately familiar with this process. You complete your pitch, answer any questions the client may have, and then…hit the awkward brick wall that most people in a sales environment have to deal with. You have to actually ask them for money. Some of the best salespeople in the world, who could give the late great Billy Mays himself a run for his money, struggle with that one final step that closes the deal: asking for payment.
But all is not lost! As this is a common problem, there are of course solutions to make that final step just a bit easier to take. And it all comes down to one simple little trick. See the part that many people struggle with when closing a deal is the actual act of saying “so that will be this much, how will you be paying?” So, don’t say it. That simple. Instead structure your conversation so that your client (who is probably awkwardly waiting for you to ask) gets the hint that it’s time for the transaction portion, without you actually saying so. There are a few ways to do this, depending on how your conversation with the client has gone up to now. In all cases, you’re making the assumption that all salespeople should be trained from the get go to make, that the prospective client is going to bite. No room for second guessing and pessimism here.
A simple rephrasing will serve you well. If your client has been positive through the exchange, a simple “let’s get to work on this” and then beginning the process will do. If your client’s ready to pull the trigger, you can get right down to work, and the issue of payment will resolve itself along the way.
If your client’s needs are time sensitive, try asking a question like, “You said you needed this project complete by August, let’s take a look at the books and see what we can do today to get you there.” In this way, you’ve bypassed the asking for the actual payment and instead get straight to work. Deal closed, money in pocket.
A little reverse psychology (which can be highly effective) might do the trick as well. You basically want to ask them a question that elicits a no, that actually means yes. Ask the client if there’s any reason that they can think of not to move forward with your negotiated arrangement. If they don’t have one, you’re golden. And if they do? Keep negotiating, and try again.
Closing a deal is a very important skill to have. One of the most important, to be completely honest, as without it you simply aren’t making any of that sweet, sweet PIE. But it can be an awkward, difficult experience. These tips should help you develop your own means of finalizing things with your clients, while bypassing an awkward question that essentially amounts to “Can I have some money now?” Master this art, and you’ll be well on your way.