I Hate to Close

Image of closed sign

By Ingenuity Marketing Group 

Closing a sale is simple.

You wouldn’t know it from how much energy most professional service providers put into avoiding it. You would think it was a root canal; the way most professionals protest, they would rather do anything than close a sale.

Closing a sale is not magic. It is simply making sure that the questions have been answered, necessary issues have been raised, and potential clients know you would like to work with them.

Closing a professional service sale sounds like this:

  • “Your business sounds like a great fit for our firm. We would enjoy working with you and giving you great service. When will you be making a decision?”
  • “We have certainly enjoyed talking through your challenges to profitability. We have gone through the process for cost segregation and how we can analyze the data and help you pinpoint both cost savings and profit improvement strategies. We would enjoy moving forward with this project. When would you like to start?”
  • “I enjoy working with family businesses and have been able to watch many of the succession plans we’ve worked on go smoothly into place and keep both the business and the family happy. Shall we set up a meeting to start working through the major issues?”
  • “I have time to begin this project next week. Is that soon enough for you?”
  • “I enjoyed meeting you and appreciate your trust in our firm. How would you like me to follow up with you?”

I am making a change in my business and as a result am interviewing people to help me. No one closes! Most of the professionals I have spoken with take an hour to meet with me, answer my questions, tell me about their firms and then smile and shake my hand. Almost no one asks when this change will take place or even tells me they would enjoy working with me. Only a few follow up. This leaves me unsure of what to do next and if my company is a good fit for their firm.

Pushy Sales People

Many professionals are afraid of appearing pushy or “salesy” if they close any kind of sales interview. They think they might be pushing people to make decisions they are not ready to make.

Why would they be at your firm if they did not need you? They need you. If you can help them with their problems or concerns, you need to tell them so and tell them you would like to work with them. Closing a sale is not about pushing me or any potential client. It is about assuring the potential client of your sincere interest in working with them and your ability to perform the job. If you do not assure them that you are interested in the work, why should they choose you?

It is a real kindness to potential clients to assure them of your interest in their organizations and your firm’s ability to serve them well. It shows consideration to ask them what the timeline for their decisions are and to suggest a next step. Very few potential clients hire new firms regularly. It is your job to tell them the process and help them get started.

The market has changed and most people now have practice development and new client acquisition in their job descriptions. One of the most valuable things you can think about is how to close a sale. Don’t look for a magic word or phrase because there is not one. Think about something you can say that is sincere, that sounds like you, and that directs the potential client to the next step. You can use any of the phrases listed.

Rehearse saying this phrase a few times and write it down. Ask your potential client good questions about their challenges and opportunities. Be genuinely interested. Tell the potential client about how your firm can help. Find out what questions or concerns they had with their former provider. Address those questions. And when the conversation is done and it seems natural, tell them you want the business. Ask when you can start. Tell them what the next step is and make that prospect into your best new client.

What three questions do you need to close a deal? Send us an email and I’ll send you the slides from my Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) Summit presentation, “3 Questions to Close the Deal and What You Need to Make Them Effective.”