Have you ever nailed the end of a sales meeting — only to find out later you didn’t close the sale? Contrary to popular belief, successfully closing the sale depends on far more than what you say at the end of your meeting. In fact, what you say at the start and middle of a meeting matters just as much, if not more, to the final outcome of your sales process.

If you’re tired of watching sales slip away after successful sales meetings, it’s time to boost your closing ratio with a few tried-and-true techniques. Implement these three critical tips for closing the sale and watch your close-rate soar:

1. Don’t focus on your product or service

One common mistake salespeople make is to sit down in a meeting or jump on a sales call and immediately begin talking about their product or service. The urge to talk about what you do is a natural one—but it simply doesn’t line up with what your prospect truly cares about. Instead of assuming you know what prospects care about, start by asking them to share the big picture of what they’re looking to accomplish.

The best salespeople are seen as experts because they know the right questions to ask. When you shift the focus from talking about yourself to asking about your prospect’s world, you’ll quickly stand out from the competition. After all, the vast majority of salespeople start pitching solutions without first understanding the prospect’s key objectives and challenges.

To learn more about starting off strong in a sales meeting, check out this video:


2. Seek to understand your prospect’s challenges

Your prospects are all asking themselves the same question: “What’s in it for me?” The best way to answer that question is to dig deep and uncover their key challenges and goals. When you finally understand where your prospect is hurting most, you can craft a solution that appeals to their chief concerns.

Asking pointed questions about your prospect’s situation has the added benefit of revealing whether the prospect is even qualified to be your customer. Many salespeople waste time and energy trying to deliver the perfect pitch to someone who isn’t qualified to make a purchase in the first place. By seeking to truly understand a prospect’s challenges, you’ll know within minutes if the prospect is worth your time.

3. Present a specific solution for the prospect’s challenges

It happens all the time: Salespeople get to the end of a seemingly successful meeting and they just can’t resist saying something like, “Oh, by the way, let me show you one more thing my product or service does!” At that moment, they stray from presenting a solution focused solely on solving the prospect’s challenges. This is a deadly mistake. It gives the prospect a reason to pause, reassess, and say, “You know what? I’m still not sure. I want to think it over.”

Salespeople love to present every positive quality of what they’re selling, but prospects only care about one thing: how the product or service will help solve their challenges and achieve their goals. Focus your presentation and craft your solution around that desire—and that desire alone. When you focus on presenting specific solutions for your customers’ deepest frustrations and resist the urge to distract them with superfluous information, you’ll increase your sales ratio dramatically.

These three simple sales tips can help any salesperson dominate their competition in sales. Have you been making mistakes at the beginning and middle of your sales process? What will you do differently in your next sales meeting now that you’ve read these three critical tips for closing the sale? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.