B2B Sales

12 Tested Sales Closing Techniques & Why They Work

Wouldn’t it be great if your prospects always told you when they were ready to buy your solution? 

Well, of course. It’d also be nice if it never rained on weekends, but unless Elon Musk gets involved, that is never going to happen. 

Unfortunately, prospects like to keep their buying intentions to themselves, whether it’s to hold a negotiating position or because they are afraid to commit. 

Sales reps have to pull these intentions out of their prospects through a process called closing the sale. Unlike in the movies, this is rarely done in one long speech. 

In this post, we will go over 12 tested B2B sales closing techniques and why they work. After reading, you can add a couple to your repertoire so that you can push more deals out of the “positioning” phase and into “closed/won”. 

What Are Sales Closing Techniques?

Closing a sale is never easy, even if you identify specific solutions to solve or pains to remove.

That is because commitment to a long-term relationship with a vendor is tough for B2B professionals, especially when they are strapped for cash, afraid to make the wrong decision, or looking for other solutions.

These factors explain why 28% of salespeople consider closing the hardest part of the job, followed by prospecting.  

So, to improve their closing abilities, salespeople learn different sales closing techniques: strategies that sales reps use to help their prospects decide to buy their solution. 

These techniques usually serve several purposes:  

  • Gauge the prospect’s feelings about the solution. 
  • Uncover any final objections.
  • Create a sense of urgency. 
  • Help the prospect make the right decision.

Each closing technique is meant for specific situations and has its own twist. 

For instance, if a prospect is asking for a slight price decrease, there is a closing technique for that: The Concession Close. If they are reluctant to show how they feel about your product, there is one for that too: The Thermometer Close

Knowledge of different techniques allows sales reps to pick the right one for the right occasion, leading to higher close rates. 

What Does It Mean to “Always Be Closing”? 

“Always Be Closing” is a classic piece of advice for new sales reps. It’s the ABC of sales. However, the meaning of the phrase is misleading without explanation. 

Unlike what the words might suggest, you cannot always be asking your prospect to sign the dotted line. That would be too pushy, and verging on insane. 

What the phrase actually teaches us is to consistently look for opportunities to close the deal throughout the sales process. 

For example, maybe, during a presentation, your prospect tells you how much they love a certain feature. A rep who is “Always Closing” will take that excitement and turn it into a signed contract. 

They never miss an opportunity to ask for the close. And, if the prospect says, “not yet”, no harm is done, and the rep continues to move through the process, on the lookout for more buying signs.

Typical B2B buying signs:

  • Asking for pricing.
  • Circling back to review a feature. 
  • Asking for case studies. 
  • Questions about contract specifics. 
  • Asking about the onboarding process.

That said, knowledge of different closing techniques will help you cultivate the “always be closing” mindset. You will have different tools in your back pocket for a variety of actions taken by the buyer. 

The Assumptive Close

This is a popular closing technique. 

The assumptive close is when you assume the close is going to happen, and therefore continuously propose final steps to your prospect, like this:

“So, it seems like this has checked all the boxes for you. Can we set up a call tomorrow to get the paperwork started?”

Use this closing technique when you can tell that your prospect really likes your solution. The needs and benefits line up. The ROI is clear. And, you can’t really see why they would back out. 

The technique works well, thanks to the contagious nature of confidence. Sometimes the self-assurance you exude is so great that the customer can’t help but feel the same certainty in the product. This is especially likely to happen if you come across as an expert in your field

Of course, it’s best to avoid “blind confidence”—pretending that the product is right for the prospect, no matter what. That will breed distrust rather than result in a close. 

As a rule of thumb, only use this closing technique when you are positive your prospect is satisfied with what they have seen. 

The Columbo Close

This technique is named after a 1970s TV detective Columbo who was notorious for acting as though interrogations were over when they had really just begun.

Before exiting, Columbo would turn around and say, “Just one more thing…”—followed by a question that breaks the investigation wide open. 

In B2B sales, this technique serves a similar purpose: to uncover one final objection that might be holding back the sale

As we know, prospects are often shy when it comes to stating objections. So, the trick here is to ask one final question that will prompt them to share a lot of information.

For example, if you’ve just held a successful demo with a team of decision-makers, you could end by saying, 

“Just one more thing… Why didn’t you bring up getting paperwork signed today?” 

The prospect could then give you a couple of reasons: 

  • We are looking at one other vendor: Now you can ask about which vendor and study the right competitive phrasing for the next meeting. 
  • We need to talk it over amongst ourselves: You might need to dig deeper into this one. Figure out what exactly they are going to discuss, and see if you can to clear up any confusion. 
  • We want to read over some more material: Ask them to expand on this. Then, make sure to deliver the best possible sales materials to help them make their decision. 

If you want to learn more about handling final objections like these, check out this post

The Concession Close 

The concession close is when you offer to “grant a wish” for your prospect, but only if they sign today or within a certain time-frame. And of course, the concession must be reasonable. Don’t give them a 90% discount. 

This technique works well when your sale is stuck in the negotiation phase and your prospect is asking you for special deals such as: 

  • A discount because of their size. 
  • A faster ramp-up period. 
  • XYZ by the end of the first month. 
  • An add-on feature. 

Instead of batting away these requests, use them. And, add a sense of urgency

Here is an example: 

Prospect: Can’t you give us a slight discount? We are bringing on so much new business.” 

Sales Rep: “Alright, we can offer you a 10% discount as long as you sign by Friday this week. Would you be able to do that?”

By giving them a timeline, you are compelling the prospect into accelerating their decision-making process.

Pro Tip: Along with a close date, you use this strategy to gain something else that helps your team: a two-year contract, an introduction to a coveted prospect, a testimonial video. 

People love to feel like they are winning something. So, let your prospects win a little during negotiation, while you win at closing the sale.  

The “Now or Never” Close 

Sometimes prospects just can’t commit. “Let’s talk next week,” they say, for the third time this quarter. This is natural—they just need a little push.

The “Now or Never” Close gives them that push by creating a sense of urgency to buy immediately. 

Here are some offers you give your prospect to achieve this effect:

  • A discount that ends this week. 
  • An SEO audit that comes free of charge with purchase. 
  • An extra feature thrown in for free. 

To sum up, this technique creates that sense of urgency by mentioning an offer that will only be available for a certain amount of time.

Example of the “now or never” close

Prospect: “Let’s talk about it in 2 weeks..”

Sales Rep: “Well, I’d say yes, but we have an end of quarter sale going on that ends this week. It’s 25% off the first year. We really wouldn’t want you to miss out on that. How about we set up a call this week to go over paperwork so you can sign by Friday. Would that work for you?” 

This should prompt the prospect to really evaluate if continuing to push off signing the contract is worth missing out on the deal. If they like your product but hesitate to pull the trigger out of fear, this technique should give them the nudge they need. 

The Takeaway Close

It is human nature to want things we can’t have. The takeaway close capitalizes on this phenomenon. 

Imagine you are talking with a “problem prospect”—one who keeps pushing off making the purchase by coming up with new complaints and requests from a seemingly never-ending internal quarry of uncertainty. 

Instead of giving in to their demands, try rescinding the offer. Take away the potential of working together and see how they react. 

“I’m sorry {Name}, we just can’t do that. I think that if you really need those concessions, you have to look for another solution.” 

If the prospect likes your product, they will start to envision life without it, like a person who ended a relationship in a fury of anger. 

Then, aware of what they are missing out on, they will decide to move forward with the sale and forget their demands, which now seem unimportant. 

And, if they bail, that’s okay too, especially if they were becoming a time-sink. Sometimes, it’s just as important to get to a “no” as it is to get a “yes”. 

Once you figure out they were never going to buy, you can redirect your resources to nurturing prospects who have a serious interest in your solution

Alongside its psychological effects, this technique works well because it demonstrates your confidence in your solution.  

The Summary Close

What is the purpose of a trial lawyer’s closing statements? To remind the jury of the main reasons why they should side with their argument. 

In sales, the Summary Close works the same way. The sales rep clearly states the most salient reasons why the prospect should purchase the solution

The summary will include the findings of the sales conversations: 

  • The pains the solution will resolve. 
  • The benefits it will provide. 
  • The ROI.
  • How it will help the prospect achieve a business goal. 

Here is an example of a marketing agency’s potential Summary Close:

“Alright, from our conversations, we found that if you go with our service, you will see a 100% increase in lead generation by the end of the next year. Plus, you can spend less time worrying about your content marketing and focus on the work only you can do. Should we get the paperwork started?”

By summarizing the agreed-upon benefits into a tidy package, you are giving the prospect a way to easily understand why buying your service is the smart decision. 

The “Ben Franklin” Close

This technique is named after inventor, writer, and politician Benjamin Franklin, who was famous for persuading people to his side of an argument with pros and cons lists.

A pros and cons list helps the prospect visualize the reasons for and against making the purchase. 

Use it when a prospect is unsure and says something like, “I just need to go sleep on it or think it over.” 

You know it is far more effective to adopt a more structured approach to decision-making than “sleeping on it”. So, offer to make a pros and cons list with your prospect. 

Here is how sales expert Cody Cameron recommends you suggest it to a prospect. 

“{client’s name}, I understand you want to go home and think about the deal. I completely agree with a decision as important as this; however, it won’t change the fact that you’ll have to at least make sure that the pros outweigh the cons. Now, before you go, can we work on one together?”

If they agree to it, do your best to partner any cons with at least 2 or 3 pros. The list should be lopsided in favor of buying the solution so that the prospect can clearly see the math of the situation.  

Once the list is complete, you can ask, “are there any other reasons not to buy?” If the answer is no, you have succeeded in closing the deal. 

The Opportunity Cost Close

We always give our prospects reasons to buy. But, with Opportunity Cost Close, you also give them reasons against not buying

The economic principle of “opportunity cost” states that if you decide to do something, you miss out on the potential gains from other alternatives. 

For example, when you choose to go to graduate school, you miss out on the years where you could be working. Therefore, the total cost is not just the cost of graduate school but also the earnings you miss out on by not working. 

  • Cost of school: $120,000
  • Earnings you would earn if you didn’t go to school: $200,000
  • Total Cost: $320,000

This principle helps your prospects understand that they are incurring costs every day they don’t sign. With each passing day without your solution, they are missing out on potential revenue, efficiency, or some other gain that comes from your solution. 

For instance, maybe your prospect wants to put off buying until next quarter because they have too much busywork.

If your solution helps them automate such busywork, you can enlighten them on the fact that a purchase will save them from administrative work next quarter. Not only that, but if they decide to buy immediately, they will also save hundreds of hours in the meantime. 

If that benefit isn’t enough to convince them, phrase it in terms of opportunity cost. 

If they wait a few more months before buying, they will miss out on all of the revenue-building work they could have done if they had automated administration and saved those hundreds of hours. 

The goal of this technique is to make the prospect realize that, the longer they wait, the more they lose. 

The 1-2-3 Close

Sometimes a close is as simple as helping the potential buyer remember why they have gotten this far in the sales process in the first place. 

This technique helps you do that. 

To use the 1-2-3 close, make a list of 3 main points, and share it with your prospect. This could be 3 benefits, 3 pains you will remove, or 3 ways in which their world will change for the better post-purchase. 

It’s a neat little package, easily digestible and memorable for the prospect. Add any more bullets, and it becomes too much to memorize; any less, and it’s just not as impactful. 

Pro Tip: Use this technique in other parts of the sales process as well. For example, a cold email with 3 punchy benefits in bullet-point form is an easy way to articulate your value across and book a meeting. 

Here’s Yesware’s example of using the 1-2-3 close. 

The Ownership Close

The ownership close is when you help the prospect feel or imagine what it would be like to own the product. If they already know what it is like to own it, it will be easier for them to buy. 

Car salesmen do this all the time. 

They ask you about the size of your garage, provoking images of your car sitting in it. Or, they bring up carpooling, and you imagine the kids and their friends sitting in the spacious backseat. 

They even give you a test ride, so that you can really feel what it’s like to own the car. 

Although you can’t always give customers a free test ride in B2B sales (unless you offer free trials) you can paint a picture of what it would be like to have your service by doing the following: 

  • Use numbers to show them the increase in revenue they will enjoy. 
  • Talk with them about how easy an old tedious process will be with the solution. 
  • Have conversations about the onboarding process and what it will look like. 

For example, if you sell software that helps salespeople create email sequences, you can show the buyer all of the cool sequences clients have built out. 

Then, you can ask them what cadence they would create first if they had access to the software right now. Their minds will uncontrollably run wild with creative ideas about how to optimize their email prospecting. 

This technique works well because people dislike losing what they already have. If they have imagined owning it for too long, it hurts to let it go. 

For an understanding of how it feels, imagine the disappointment of a young girl, whose father promised her a pony for her birthday, when she finds it was only a cruel joke. That pony, the one whom she had fed so many imaginary carrots in her daydreams, was not going to be hers. 

She, like your prospects, would feel the loss of something she had never even owned. 

The Case Study Close

Sometimes sales fail to finalize simply because the prospect lacks trust in the efficacy of your solution. To overcome this distrust, you need to build credibility

Do this by showing them real-life examples of your solution helping clients like them. 

You can build credibility by sharing any of these with your prospect: 

  • Testimonial videos.
  • Written case studies.
  • A list of well-known clients.

These should ease any doubts your prospect has about your product’s ability to help them achieve their business goals. 

So, next time your prospect says they need to think about it or talk it over with their team, and you know the only objection left on their mind is doubt, use the Case Study Close. 

Offer to walk them through some success stories of clients like them. This will help them accept the fact that your solution is the real deal. 

The Thermometer Close 

The Thermometer Close is great if you are talking to a prospect whose intentions seem to be spelled out in hieroglyphics. They give you cryptic answers about their satisfaction with your product—or no sign at all, other than a few soft smiles during the video call. 

The Thermometer Method will help you get a read on them. It works like this. 

Ask your prospect to give you a number between 1-10, 10 being “most likely to purchase your product”. If they say anything below a 6, you have some work to do—potentially another presentation. 

However, if they say 7 or above, there are probably just a couple more objections for you to overcome. To tease out those objections, you can say, 

“So, you gave an 8, what can we do to help you get to a 10?” 

Hopefully, they will be forthright and give you a real hesitation or worry, which you can then manage. After discussing the objection, ask again and keep going through the process until the prospect is at a 10. 

This technique works well because it helps you form a better relationship with the buyer. You form conversations around their objections, all the while trying to truly understand what they need. 

Additionally, when your prospect says a number above an 8, it’s harder for them to back out later on. That’s because of a psychological factor called commitment and consistency, which is summarized well by the author of “Influence”, Robert Cialdini: 

Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.

For example, if you told your friend you like spicy salsa at the beginning of the night, and later on, they serve you spicy salsa, you are going to dip that chip, even if you exaggerated your heat tolerance in the first place.

Following that logic, when your prospect states a strong interest, they are more likely to follow through with the purchase. Getting them to state it outright is the hard part. 

Conclusion

You never know what roadblocks will impede your progress on the way to a close. So, it’s best to have more than one closing technique in your back pocket. 

And, whether it’s the Assumption, Summary, or Case Study close, you should always be hypersensitive to your prospect’s objections. 

When you can consistently find objections, discuss and overcome them, you will start to close more deals. Additionally, you will reap the benefits of stronger client relationships, since you weren’t afraid to have the hard conversations.