How to Close a Service-Based Sale | Intuitive Business Woman

This tutorial article explains the most powerful way to close a sale when:

  1. You’re selling face to face
  2. The product you’re selling is a service – financial, legal, web design, etc

I’m assuming that you’ve already conducted your sales presentation, and you feel pretty confident at this point that you’re the best choice for your prospect.

And I don’t mean you’re the best choice for you but truly the best choice for them. Meaning, if this prospect was your best friend’s sister or father, you’d still be advising them to go with you because you believe you can truly meet their needs better than anyone else. You don’t just feel optimistic about your ability to close the deal and collect your commission – that’s the worst kind of sleazy salesmanship, and symptomatic of a deep, deep Selling Wound™.

But just because you know that you’re the prospect’s best option, doesn’t mean they’re convinced of that yet.

To help them see clearly that at the end of the day you’re their best option, you’re going to close them by asking four questions:

Question #1: What do you see as your options at this point?

The answer you’re looking for from your prospect is that they have 3 options: 1) do nothing at all  2) buy from one of your competitors  3) buy from you.

As your prospect answers, you’re going to list each one of the options at the top of a separate piece of paper.

When you’re done you’ll have three (or more) pieces of paper. One will say “Do nothing” (or “think about it” or some other variation of the do-nothing response) at the top; one will say “Go with Jones & Sons” (your competitor); and a third will say “Go with you.”

If they’re considering more than one option besides you – or if they’re considering more than one package or option that you offer – make a separate piece of paper for each one.

At this point you’re going to say something like,

“This is a really big decision you’re getting ready to make, and there are a lot of variables to take into consideration. I can imagine you feel somewhat overwhelmed by it all.”

Gauge their response, reply as appropriate, and continue:

“What I’d like to do now, if it’s okay with you, is help you sift through all the information in your head and help you make the decision that’s right for you. Because if you do decide to go with me, that’s what my role will be for you from now on – an advisor and problem solver, who you can trust to give you honest feedback and help you make hard decisions.”

Question #2: What are the pros and cons of each option?

Starting with one of the sheets of paper, draw a line down the middle and write “pros” on one side and “cons” on the other. Do this for all the sheets of paper. Then proceed to ask your client to share with you the pros and cons of each of the choices, while you (or they) jot it all down.

Based upon the discussion you’ve already had with your potential client as part of the sales presentation, you should have a good idea of what the important factors are in their decision making process.

We’re also taking it as a given that you’ve concluded that you are in fact the best solution for you client.

Sure, your competitor may have an attractive feature or two; and of course, you aren’t the perfect, 100% guaranteed genie in the bottle your prospect would ideally like for you to be.

But on balance, you truly do feel – even if the prospect in front of you was your closest friend – that going with you is the best choice for them.

So if they find the process difficult, you should be able to nudge them along by suggesting what you’ve learned are the various pros and cons in their mind.

You also might need to say something like, “I know that I’m one of the choices here, but I want you to feel comfortable being honest with me about the pros and cons of all your choices – including me.”

And then prove your authentic desire to be helpful by offering to write down whatever the single-biggest pro is for one of your competitors, and/or the single biggest con for you.

If you happen to be the most expensive option your prospect is considering, make sure you put that “con” on the paper.

In this way, you will successfully guide your prospective client through a transparent process that thoroughly fleshes out all the various considerations in your prospect’s mind.

They will come to trust that you’re not doing this to help YOU; but rather, you’re doing this because you truly want to help THEM.

What’s crucial to making this exercise work is that you maintain transparency and honesty the whole time. Don’t try to hide or minimize any of the “cons” about you or the “pros” about someone else! Doing that will just cause your prospect to get tight-lipped and withdraw their trust.

Question #3: Can we take a second look at some of this?

Hopefully, nothing comes out during this closing process that surprises you. If you’ve done your job during the sales presentation, you’ve asked excellent questions and really listened to the answers. You’re well aware of any shortcomings you may have as a solution to your prospect’s problems, as well as any advantages your competitor may have over you.

But just because you clearly understand these nuances and have reached the conclusion that on balance you’re the better choice, it doesn’t mean your prospect feels the same.

Remember – you go through this process all the time, while for your client this stuff is all brand new.

They may have written down a “con” for you or a “pro” for your competitor that you know is actually pretty trivial, but in their mind it seems like a big obstacle to saying yes to you.

For example, they might be hooked on the fact that your competitor provides a bit more customization of their widget’s offshoot product than you do.

Or they might be fearful that since your team doesn’t include a Certified Widget-Revolving Expert, that you might not be able to adequately solve every one of their problems.

So here in Step 3 (Question 3) is where you can discuss those individual objections in isolation.

Even though you may have addressed them already during the sales presentation (hopefully you have!), now that everything is broken down into clear pros and cons for each choice, it will be easier for your prospect to weigh the particular objection on its own merits.

If you truly believe these objections shouldn’t stop the prospect from doing business with you, then this is where you need to use your skills of questioning and listening and reframing to help the client get on board with you.

For example:

You can help them see that it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll even USE the competitor’s offshoot product, much less take advantage of their various customization options.

Or you can remind them of the tremendous success your team has had with clients just like them in the past, even though you do in fact lack a certified specialist in one very specific area.

And if your customer seems to be underestimating the value of one of the unique pros of your product or service, this phase is where you can help them see how that’s the very feature that will most significantly contribute to a real and lasting solution to their problem.

Question #4: Was this helpful?

Once you’ve fully exhausted the objections that came up during the review process, you shift the tone of the discussion by asking “Was this helpful?”

This question is just a filler, a transition. It’s a way to shift the tone of the conversation from an analysis of pros and cons to an indication of their decision.

Their answer is most likely going to be yes; but the value to you will be in the sound of their voice.

It will either be a strong, confident yes that indicates they’re ready to make a decision (presumably in your favor); or it will be a tired, confused yes that indicates they just want to end this conversation and go home.

If their yes is strong and confident, then your final question will be “Great, are you ready to get started with me now?” and begin the process of signing the contract or whatever.

(Of course, if the conversation during either Question 2 or 3 has made it clear to both of you that you aren’t their best option after all, then you won’t ask them to get started!)

If their yes is tired and confused, then your final question will be “Do you need to take some time to think about this?” Both you and they know that’s code for “I’m not going to buy from you, and I don’t want to tell you why.”

You and they might at this point agree that you’ll follow up a day or a week later; or you might offer to give them some alternate resources or even a referral to someone who will be able to help them more than you.

Julia KlineHi, I'm Julia Kline. For help learning how to close a sale this way, consider hiring me for private coaching. I offer packages starting as low as $5,000, or up to $25,000. I also offer affordably priced group coaching. 

To start the conversation, email my assistant She'll send you my coaching brochure, describing all that I offer. 

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