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How to Close a Sales Interview
You are a sales professional in a sales interview, This is no different to any other sales meeting you attend and you are expected to close.
I can't tell you how many times candidates ring after an interview to say fantastic meeting, got on like a house on fire. Did you close? No, it wasn't the right time. We got on so well it wasn't necessary.
We contact the employer with the feedback to be told, nice guy. I'd love to go for a drink with him, wouldn't hire him as a sales person though, because he couldn't close a barn door. So it's imperative that you close in every sales interview that you attend.
Some years ago I conducted some research. I asked every candidate I spoke to whether they closed at interview and I put a tick in either the yes or no. Over the course of the month just under 3/4 of sales professionals in sales interviews did not close. It's a travesty.
So how do you close? Let's go back to sales basics-
Direct close- "I can start immediately. Based on this interview have I secured the role?" This can sometimes be considered a little too direct in a sales interview. But if the moment's right, go for the jugular.
Alternative close - "I understand you're looking for somebody to start in September. Would you prefer me to start on the second week or third week?" Closing in this kind of way is slightly less direct and can be delivered with a touch of humour if appropriate.
Deferred Close- " I understand that you're going to be talking to Aaron Wallis to provide detailed feedback. When should I expect to hear whether or not I have secured the role please?" This is a good professional close but should be accompanied by further questioning as to how they feel the interview has gone.
Assumptive close- "I've enjoyed the interview and personalities that I've met. I like the business and can effectively sell your products and services. I'm confident I will be successful in the role and look forward to working with you to achieve and exceed sales targets when I start"
Assumptive and very natural, this ticks the box that you have closed the interview down.
But how do you get to the point where it is natural and appropriate to close? As a sales person, you know you have to build a platform from which it is possible to close effectively. You've got to ask lots of questions beforehand.
When you feel the interview is coming to a natural conclusion, when you feel that their questions have come to the end, ask questions about your own performance
A good example is, "How do you feel our meeting has gone today?" It's no longer an interview, it's a sales meeting. You're on a level.
Ask questions about how they feel you'd fit in with other team members, whether they feel that you are a cultural match for their business, whether they feel there are any areas of your expertise or your qualifications or abilities that aren't right for the business. Overcome them. Acknowledge that you've overcome them by gaining the agreement of the interviewer.
"OK, so you didn't feel that I had enough experience of national account type business. I hope that I've now overcome that. Do you agree?" Yes.
Then move on to the trial-close. Are there any further things that you'd like to explore before this meeting closes? If you're not getting any negative feedback at that point, you've got the opportunity to go for the close.
I can't stress how important is to close. You must ensure that you close at every sales interview that you attend, otherwise you are not asking for the business.
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by Darren Dewrance
About the author
Darren spent six years in sales and field sales before joining the original sales recruitment specialist, Austin Benn, in 1998. After achieving the status of top consultant, out of about seventy at the time, Darren rose from Senior Consultant to Operations Manager of the commercial sector before leaving to join a London based Headhunter in 2003 before setting up Aaron Wallis with Rob in October 2007.
With a natural leadership style, Darren is an expert on putting his finger right on the heart of the problem. His natural commercial instincts have helped hundreds of employers make better recruitment decisions. Darren is married with two children, and when not at work or with his family, he likes nothing more than to be on the side of a river or a lake with a rod in his hand.
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