It might be scary to think that closing calls are out of your control, but it is and we have the data to prove it. Below are our top phone sales closing tips from 1M sales calls.
“Always be closing.” The phrase is so popular in sales that it’s practically the industry’s unofficial motto.
But what if everything you know about closing is all wrong?
What if by the time your deal is “late stage,” its fate has already been sealed? And, not even the fanciest closing technique can change that? The actions you took earlier in the sales cycle have already predetermined its outcome.
1) What “closing” means today.
2) Our learnings from 1M sales calls.
3) Closing calls vs. cold/discovery/demo calls
4) What makes a successful and unsuccessful closing call.
5) A crucial characteristic of successful closing calls.
Closing is a Foregone Conclusion
Closing calls are a lot like the plot of one of the 90’s finest works of cinema, Armageddon. If a meteor were approaching earth, just a small change in its trajectory when it was still very far away could send it safely away from earth.
But if that same meteor gets too close to the finish line before we act, no amount of force (not even Bruce Willis) could change it’s trajectory away from earth.
Closing calls are the same way. Late in the game, slick closing techniques don’t have much of an impact on your buyer. There’s no combination of words, no psychological principle you can exploit, that will sway your buyer on a closing call.
It’s the things you did earlier in the sales cycle that have a much greater impact on your ability to close. Making the right moves and taking the right steps before the closing call is what predetermines the outcome, not what you do on the closing call itself.
As conflicting as it may be for sales professionals to hear, closing is basically a non-event if you played your cards right early on.
How do we know?
1 Million Sales Calls Analyzed
We analyzed over one million sales calls with the help of machine learning to identify the trends and secrets hidden in the transcripts of the most successful sales calls.
Our initial analysis has been focused on different “types” of calls: prospecting calls, discovery calls, demo/presentation calls, and now “closing calls (the last call before a deal is either won or lost).
For every type of sales call up to this point, we’ve uncovered surprises and debunked traditional sales wisdom. Our final type of call turned out to be a little different.
Closing Calls vs. Cold/Discovery/Demo Calls
What we found is there “almost” no differences between a closing call that leads to a closed deal and a closing call that leads to a lost deal.
We analyzed metrics that have substantial impacts in other stages of the buyer’s cycle and found that they had little to no influence on closing calls.
Closing calls and cold calls
At the beginning of the sales cycle, call duration matters enormously. Successful cold calls are almost twice as long as unsuccessful ones. But during closing calls, the difference is negligible.
Talk/listen ratio on closing calls vs. discovery calls
We see the same pattern when we contrast closing calls with discovery calls. While the difference in talk/listen ratios of successful and unsuccessful discovery calls is substantial for discovery calls, it’s virtually non-existent during closing calls.
Monologue length in closing calls vs. demo calls
How long a sales rep monologues is crucial during demo/presentation calls and negligible on closing calls. On demo calls, the difference in monologue length between successful and unsuccessful calls is 50%. During closing calls, the variability in monologue length is negligible.
Even when handling objections, we see metrics like the number of speaker switches play a huge role, but have little to no impact on closing calls.
Successful and Unsuccessful Closing Calls Look Almost the Same
What does this striking similarity between successful and unsuccessful closing calls actually mean? It means that what you do upstream has much more impact on your deal’s trajectory than what you do late in the game. You need to get it right early.
Just look at competitor discussions. When these discussions happen early in the sales cycle, you’re actually more likely to close than if there were no competitors at all. But if competitor discussions happen late in the sales cycle, you’re less likely to win the deal than if there were no competitors at all.
But a Curious Prospect is a Good Sign
We did find ONE major difference between closing calls that result in a win and those that don’t: the prospect (rather than rep) initiates the topics discussed.
In winning closing calls, the prospect initiates discussions that represent a concern for making the right buying decision 81% more often than losing closing calls. Examples of these topics include Service Level Agreements, implementation, pricing, agreement details, and long-term partnerships.
Keep in mind that these topics are initiated by the prospect, not the rep. That means that a reps role in closing calls is not to lay down a slick closing line. Quite the opposite in fact. Your job late in the game is leadership: lead your buyer calmly through their concerns.
If you did things right early in the sales cycle, guiding them through their concerns is the only step left before a successful close. Of course, part of employing leadership in this scenario is finally asking them to move forward decisively. But it’s not a technique, it’s a way of being. It’s character, not technique.
While closing calls lacked the patterns and insights for success of other types of calls, the takeaway is clear: perfect what you did upstream during the early and middle parts of the sales cycle.
In particular, learn how to nail your discovery calls. They are the most pivotal, outcome-defining moments of your deals.
Download this discovery call one-sheeter (where we analyzed 519,000+ discovery calls to learn what works, etc.)
Also published on Medium.