If you are an experienced sales professional you are probably looking for reassurance that you have the right approach. In which case, here are the tips in summary form. If you are interested in understanding any of them in more detail, the explanations are below. Position yourself correctly
Closing the sale is the one area of sales that gets the most attention, both from trainers and from people seeking to improve their sales performance. Studies of sales people seem to confirm that this one area of sales needs the most focus. The last survey I saw suggested that fully 50% of sales people never ask for the order.
So, with figures like that, it’s a wonder that so many sales get made at all. In reality, closing the sale is only one part of a potentially very lengthy process, and many buyers choose to buy, even if their sales people don’t “invite them to”.
This brings me to my first tip.
Position yourself correctly so that people are ready to buy from you. You’ll see me write about this topic frequently. People will buy from you when they see value in what you are offering. You can only demonstrate value when you look at your offering from the customer’s point of view. Ask yourself questions such as
By looking at your offering through the customer’s eyes you give yourself the best chance of showing how you can add value to him, and that is why he will buy from you. He might not volunteer to buy, and that is why you may need to
Simply ask for the order .
Once you have demonstrated the value of your offer, and only then, it really does make sense to ask the customer to make a commitment to your solution. There are many different tools for analysing people’s personality types, and they all have their value. Whichever tool you prefer to use, one key factor that is particularly relevant to this topic is clearly evident – some people find it hard to make decisions. The more important the decision, the harder they will find it to make.
This is where you need to help them. Very often, simply asking them to make a commitment will be sufficient. You don’t need a clever script, or lots of special techniques, just ask a simple question. Here are a few of my favourites;
“So, shall we go ahead?”
“So, shall we schedule our first meeting?”
“Well, that makes sense to me, what do you think?”
“Now, we just need an order number from you and we can get started.”
If that seems too aggressive for you, you could try a softer way
Offer alternatives. By offering the customer a choice of two options, both of which involve buying from you, you make it easier for him to say yes. One of the reasons this method is so effective is that it matches with the patterns our brains form when we make decisions. We make thousands of decisions every day, from what to wear to where to go out at night. Any one of these decisions involves weighing up many variables. Think for example of how many items of clothing are in your wardrobe right now. How do you ever manage to decide what to wear for a given event?
You do it by making comparisons. So, for example, if I am going to an important business event I’ll first think about all the clothes I own, and which ones are suitable for a formal business event, and which are not. Then, because it is an important event, which are the suits that look most impressive, and which are less so? Then I’ll consider blue or grey. Do I want to appear approachable and warm and friendly (blue), or analytical, serious and intelligent (grey)? Once I’ve chosen the suit, I’ll look for the shirt that complements it best. Then I’ll move on to the ties. There again there are decisions to be made; same colour as the suit, or the shirt? Tonal variation or complementary colour? Big knot or small knot? And I haven’t even started on the shoes.
So, what is really quite a complex decision – what to wear – gets broken down into a number of choices between alternatives. That’s what makes it possible to make so many decisions without going mad.
Offering alternative choices to our customer fits into this pattern, and so makes the act of making a decision much easier. Examples of alternative close questions are:
“Would you like it in blue or green?”
“Would you like to make an appointment on Tuesday or Thursday?”
“Would you like the full programme or the shortened one?”
“Would you like us to deliver next week or the week after?”
Sometimes you will find that, although you have put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you have missed a point that is important to him. Usually you find this out when he asks you a question or suggests he can’t buy from you because you can’t offer a particular feature. This is where you may be able to
Close on an objection .
Quite often you can offer that feature, you just didn’t realise it was important. Or, you can overcome the issue that the lack of that feature causes because of some other benefits you offer. In this situation, before jumping in and answering the objection, the smart move is to establish how important the issue is to the customer – remember, this is something you had missed. If this is an important point for the customer, and you are confident that you have already demonstrated the value of your offer, then you can test the customer’s intentions with a trial close, such as “So, other than this point, do you have any doubts about the value of proceeding with our offer?” if the customer says no, all you have to do is show how you can resolve this final issue for him, and then follow up with a question to elicit his commitment, such as “So, shall we go ahead then?”
Most common objections.
If you are going to close on an objection it may be worth taking a minute or two to consider the most frequently encountered objections and to think about how to deal with those.
The first two objections are about your price, and while similar, need to be approached rather differently. So, your prospect says to you “It’s too expensive.” Remember what I said when we were looking at alternative closes – we make most of our decisions by comparing things, and mainly by comparing two things at a time. To decide you are too expensive your prospect must have compared your price with something else, and in order to answer that objection properly, you need to know what you are being compared with. For example
The next objection is the hardest to deal with. Your prospect tells you - “I will think about it.” These 5 words strike terror into the hearts of even the most experienced sales people. And it is understandable, because there is no answer to it. If you try to get them to decide now you are seen as pushy, but you know that if they don’t decide in your favour now they never will. Of course it is wrong and very negative to think they never will – the reality is that they almost certainly never will. That’s much more comforting, isn’t it? In my experience, the best way to deal with this objection is to be completely open about your feelings and say something like “Oh! That means you will almost certainly say no. I must have done a terrible job of explaining my offer to you because I think it delivers tremendous value to you.” The objective of this approach is to get the prospect to explain to you exactly why he/she thinks it doesn’t offer the value that they want it to, and that gives you the chance to show them that it does. They may still want to think about it – some people won’t make big decisions without sleeping on them, but it will improve your chances. You will improve your chances still further if you ask the following question “I fully understand your desire to think about this before making a decision. So I have an idea where I stand, can you tell me, if you had to decide right now, would you buy it?” This question is so powerful because it makes use of another of our subconscious decision making principles. But I’ll tell you more about that another time.
Those are my four top tips for closing the sale. We could complicate the subject – I can show you 22 different ways to close – but research shows that the very best sales people only ever use 10 ways or less, and even then they rely on just 3 ways to close over 70% of all their sales.
We go into this subject in more detail in one of our seminars. Have a look at the programme for more information.