Importance of Order Closing in Sales Success

Neil Rackham in SPIN Selling defines order closing as ‘A behavior used by the seller which implies or invites a commitment so that the buyer’s next statement either accepts or denies that commitment.

  • Why salespeople feel shy asking for orders?
  1. Inability to see the customer perceptions: One of the main reasons is the inability of the salesman to realize that the sale was lost much earlier due to factors like unnecessary talking by the salesman and the poor perception of the salesman and his company by the prospect. Ashok, one of our sales executives, who used to sell our training programs, once reported that he had a long and interesting discussion with Narendran, GM of a Software company. He said that he was sure to get the training assignment. Narendran being my close friend told me that Ashok went on talking endlessly without any rhyme or reason and he was entertained only because of the director’s reference. The customer replied that Ashok was talking through his hat and the former was not too keen for a business relationship.
  2. Closing before creating a clear Value Proposition: It is said that a high pressure salesman is the one who tries to close before creating value. The value as perceived by the customer may be much different than as projected by the salesman. If the customer feels that he has a problem and that problem can be effectively solved by the solution proposed by the salesman, then the closing becomes effective.
  3. Fear of the Mystique of Closing: There has been a considerable aura and mystery around the term ‘Order Closing’. Salesmen who have read books on selling or attended sales training programs, experience performance anxiety about the technique that should be used. Some of the thoughts that can come up in such anxious salesman are:
    • Am I doing right?
    • Am I using the right technique?
    • In this call, should I be using the Standing Room Close or the Assumptive Close?
  4. Guilt feeling about job: This is observed in salesmen who have joined sales by default and not by choice. They have negative thoughts like: sales is bad, it is cheating the customer, etc. It becomes an issue of low self-esteem and one getting such thoughts should introspect about his career options.
  5. Guilt feeling about the company and the product: This is a relatively minor issue compared to the previous one as the salesman has an aptitude for sales but gets carried away or genuinely believes that he is selling a shoddy product. In case, it is a genuine observation, then he should take up the matter with the senior management and resolve his problems else, should look out for other opportunities.
  6. Not understanding the process of closing: In some situations, one may not be aware of the importance of closing and the perception of the executive is: “My job is to inform, whether to buy or not, the customer has to decide”. In such situations, the salesman should be aware of closing techniques and should know when to close and when not to.
  • Popular Order Closing Techniques
  1. Alternative Close: Some writers also call this as Twin-Barrel close. The seller gives two options to the customers before ensuring whether he has made any purchase decision. “Would you prefer to order in 4 packets of 24 units or 2 packets of 50 units?’ or “Would you prefer the medical policy for 1 or 2 years?”
  2. Involvement close: Here the seller involves the customer in the conversation by providing a positive problem to the customer to solve. For example, “I Know you are running a tight budget and still you would like to have this top-end music system. How would you like to handle this issue?”
  3. Assumptive close: The seller makes the assumption before the customer has decided. “Where would you like the UPS to be delivered? At your home or office?”
  4. Last-chance Close: The seller tries to create panic in the customer’s mind and thus forcing him to take a decision. For example, “The membership charges for the time-share resort are going to increase by 15% by next month. Would you like to avail of the cheaper rates now and confirm your membership right away? Do not worry; you can pay me 5% as the token amount.”
  • Does more closing statements improve conversion?
  1. Research has found out that in case of a small sale, frequent order closing may give results, but for large value orders, it may be counter-productive.
  2. I was conducting a program for Agappe Diagnostics Ltd., a company head quartered in Kerala. It deals with reagents and diagnostic eqpts., The reagents are required for urine, stool, spit analysis and are in the range of Rs.500 –Rs 5000 range. However diagnostic equipments like Chemistry Analyzer, etc., were capital equipments and were in the range of Rs.5-25 Lakhs.
  3. All the sales executives and the managers were unanimous that a salesman should ask for an order in the first call itself. Asking a lab technician whether he wants to buy a specific reagent in the first visit may be alright but asking the same for a high-value equipment may be counter-productive. Remember, in a high value sale, needs take a long time to develop and if you try closing too early, it may not work.
  4. A Study was carried out which tracked 190 sales calls of large sales, the top 30 calls having 5.8 average close per call (high closing behaviour) were compared with bottom 30 calls with 1.4 closes per call (low closing behaviour). Contrary to the popular belief, 11 orders were closed in the former vis-à-vis 21 orders in the latter category.
  5. What it means is too many order-closing statements are counterproductive in case of a large sale.

Excerpts from Contextual Selling: A New Sales Paradigm for the 21st Century by Rajan Parulekar