Once the meetings are done and all the questions have been answered, the only thing left to do is to close the deal. As an entrepreneur, you are usually bidding against a competitor, and while you might be able to bring the deal to the table, the deal is not done until all the I's are dotted and T's are crossed.
Lets face it: getting a client from the request-for-proposal stage to actually signing on the dotted line can be a stressful and daunting task. But with a few tips, any business person can be a better closer.
For the past decade, New York Times bestselling author and personal finance expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox and her husband, Earl, have run the profitable TheMoneyCoach.net, LLC, a financial education business. Lynnette has a few useful ways for any entrepreneur to successfully close a deal:
1. Sweeten the deal.
Closing a deal is sometimes a matter of giving a client an extra incentive to do business with you instead of your competitors. One way to do this is by sweetening the deal -- either at the beginning of the sales process or right near the close when the customer is weighing a purchase or seems to be wavering on finalizing the transaction.
You can sweeten the deal by throwing in freebies that have high perceived value. Other ways of sweetening a deal include adding support services, ancillary products or one-on-one help that the customer may desire.
Smart entrepreneurs know what their clients value most -- whether it's cost, quality, performance, convenience or other benefits. Savvy entrepreneurs add sweeteners to help satisfy their customers' wants and needs.
2. Let customers pay how they want.
Many entrepreneurs lose out on snagging paying customers because the business owner is too rigid in the payment process, or they're woefully out of touch with how customers want to pay.
Depending on your target customers, some clients want to pay using more traditional methods, such as credit cards, checks or cash. But with advancements in digital technology, other clients may prefer to use online or mobile payment methods, such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
Those who are open and willing to accept a broader range of payments will diversify their client base, establish or maintain a broader income stream, and close more deals.
3. Negotiate from a position of strength (not need or greed).
Knowing how hard to negotiate is always tricky for entrepreneurs hungry to close more deals. But just because you're seeking additional revenue doesn't mean you should cave in and drastically slash your prices at the first sign of a price objection.
It's just as counterproductive to succumb to desperation as it is to fall victim to greediness. As hard as it can be, need and greed shouldn't rule your decision-making during business negotiations. Instead, you should negotiate from a position of strength, based on your unique features, benefits, capabilities or offerings.
When you have a really strong sense of what you and your products or services are worth in the marketplace, don't be afraid to ask for pricing that reflects your value. You'll close deals with the right customers -- and sidestep those who aren't in your sweet spot.
Too many entrepreneurs sell themselves short in the hunt for new business. That's a big mistake. It's harder to raiser prices later, especially on existing customers. So it's better to set your pricing accurately and accordingly from the get-go, and update prices gradually as necessary or as market conditions change.
4. Offer a (nearly) free trial.
A final way to close a deal is to offer a free (or nearly free) trial offer of the product or service you're selling. Some examples are 30 days of complimentary service, a "no money down" purchase for a piece of equipment or a month-long subscription/trial offer for free or deeply discounted software.
A free or almost free trial can be an easy, low-risk way for a new client to give your offerings a try. So by tempting a customer with an offer that's cost-free, or virtually so, you greatly increase the chance of turning that prospect into a paying client.