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Sales 101: The hard and soft close

If I were to ask you for a sales tip right now, the chances are, you’d provide me with advice for getting a prospect through the door, or sharing your services or products. What’s less likely, would be you sharing a tip about the end stage of the sales process, the closing stage.

The closing stage what happens after the nitty gritty has taken place. You’ve discussed your product or service, you’ve outlined why your customer would benefit from it, you’re 80% of the way there, now you need to ‘close the deal’. Clumsy and heavy handed sales closing can squash a deal that you’ve spend a great deal of time on. Sophisticated and professional sales closing can open the door to smooth and easy after sales, and even repeat sales. In today’s blog, we’re sharing our favourite tips for perfecting your sales closing skills. Read on…

The first thing to know about sales closing, is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model. You’re selling to individuals, and individuals have their own quirks and differences, so you will need to cater your closing techniques accordingly. One simple rule to follow in terms of closing, is decide whether you will follow a hard or soft close.

The hard close

A hard close is a direct method of closing, and is one that requires an immediate response. This technique allows you to maintain control, and guide the conversation with a lot more authority. However, proceed with caution. Using the hard close in certain situations can ruin rapport that you have built, and is sometimes unappealing to people who prefer an indirect approach.

There are a few different ways to conduct a hard sell, so let’s take a look.

The Direct

Your direct hard sell is to the point, bald, and open. In this method you are asking, ‘will you buy this today?’, ‘Are you signing up right now?’. This confronts your prospect with a choice, and must be employed with care. This method is best used when prospects appear positive, but are quibbling over the minor details.

The Now or Never

Create a sense of urgency with the ‘now or never’ technique. This involves implementing a time or supply limitation, with statements such as, ‘This offer ends at the end of the week’, ‘We have three left of these, and I have more people to visit today’. This technique works well when prospects state, ‘I am going to think about it and come back to you’, we’ve all heard it, let’s be honest, we’ve all done it! It’s one of the hardest statements to counter, but the ‘now or never’ technique does the job.

The Reverse

When customers appear to have doubts that are holding them back from making the sale, use the ‘reverse close’. Ask questions like, ‘Why would you not proceed with this?’, and ‘Why don’t you think you should buy this’. This will allow you to get to grips, not just with your customer, but also your products and services. If you can’t address the problem directly, you can use the points you hear for future development.


The soft close

We all know, that some prospects are easily started. Some prospects need to be gently guided through the sale before they will commit. These clients are best served by the soft close. The soft close is non-confrontational and natural, and is well employed to keep borderline opportunities alive.

The Assumptive

Just because the sale is soft, it doesn’t have to lack confidence. You’re undertaking the assumptive sales stance with a knowing smile, with statements such as, ‘When do you want to begin?’, or, ‘So, let’s get your address for delivery’. This technique works well when you’ve got a rapport with your client, and just need to push it over the line.

The Summary

Take a deep breath before launching into the summary! If you’ve delved fairly deep into the benefits and features of your products and services, this is the method for you. Once you’ve concluded, reiterate the items or features that you’ve discussed, outlining the values and benefits, finished up with a ‘How many can I put you down for?’, or ‘When would you like this delivered?’.

The Choice

Occasionally, if customers feel overly pressured, they will shut down the sale. This is where using a choice works well. This can narrow down to little details such as, ‘Do you want this with A or B?’, or you can offer differing choices.


To conclude

Whichever closing method you’re electing to use, there is one rule that is always worth bearing in mind, and this is; remember your value preposition. Script a statement out, and take the time to memorise it. It’s a small ask, but the difference to your bottom line will be massive.

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