CLOSING THE SALE
By Lou Goldstein
This chapter CLOSING THE SALE is by no means complete. It will continue to be a “work in progress.”
There are so many aspects to the art of selling that you will never “know it all.”
Closing the sale begins the moment you meet or talk to your prospect (soon to be customer.)
There are also many steps that lead up to closing the sale. They each have to be handled successfully to even get to the point of “closing the sale.”
We will touch on some of those steps now… and go into greater detail in future chapters but let’s give you credit for climbing those steps... and now you are at the point of… “closing the sale.”
Simply put, selling is nothing more than helping your “soon to be customer” make a decision.
Attempting to “sell” something to someone takes on different meanings. It could be a product or a service.
YOU CAN’T JUST SELL PRODUCTS OR A SERVICE…YOU HAVE TO OFFER BENEFITS AND SOLUTIONS
Before you can close the sale you must determine exactly who your prospect is and why they either “need” or should “want” what it is you are selling.
First, let’s now remove the words “sale” and “selling” from the discussion and replace it with the words “offer” and “offering.” Most people don’t want to be “sold”. They do want to “buy.”
An “offer” and then an “acceptance” is much easier to accomplish.
Now let’s determine the difference between a “need” and a“want”. A need is something we must or should have. Food, shelter, transportation, clothing, companionship, security, employment, good health, and some order of deep personal faith or conviction. While there might be others these are the most driving things we either “need” or should have.
If you have a product or service that appeals to a “need” you then have to structure meaningful reasons why your prospect “needs” what it is that you are offering. There could be many reasons. You may have something that is better than, more affordable, more unique, better suited, etc.
After determining the reason(s) that your product or service serves your prospect’s needs better than your competitors do… you must show the “how” and the “why” that it does.
If your product or service is not a “need” but rather a “want” you basically proceed the same way with some exceptions. A “want” appeals to some different emotions.
Human nature hasn’t changed since sales techniques, advertising and marketing strategies were developed and it won’t appreciably change in the future either.
There are some certainties that tell us what people“want”. For you to sell your product or service you need to appeal to peoples basic wants. People “want” many things. For example:
People want (or desire) to:
Make things easier for themselves….look better…..express themselves….improve their health…..save money….make money…feel safe….attract affection and praise….be accepted socially….enjoy themselves….collect things…become smarter…improve physically…
( Now… you think of some more )
Determine how your product or service satisfies these basic “wants or desires” and then… show your prospect why they should “own” what it is that you are offering them.
BE PREPARED FOR HEARING OBJECTIONS FROM YOUR PROSPECT.
Think of an objection as a “question” that needs to be answered.
Objections can be "real" or "false." A real objection would be a homeless person who has $5 to their name saying they can't afford a $1,500 computer. Actually, you shouldn't even be trying to sell this unqualified prospect in the first place. A false objection is usually given by a person who just needs more convincing.
It is your goal to determine the validity of the objection.
You must show empathy to your prospect and show a sincere appreciation for any objection. You need to exhibit that you feel the prospect’s concerns and then address the objection in a direct and understanding manner. Do not be defensive, argumentative, sarcastic or sly in any way.
However, before you answer the objection you need to find out if it is the only one. You must isolate the objection given to you and find out if it is the only one.
“Is this the only reason that would prevent you from seeing the advantage in owning this product?” (or accepting this service?)
By doing this you are finding out where you are in the presentation. If the prospect indicates that their reason is the ONLY one... then you should only have to overcome that one objection.
Reinforce this by asking your prospect a question such as…”So what you are saying is that if we can solve this one issue that you have a question about… then it would make it easier for you to take advantage of my offer. Is that right?”
At this point it is crucial for your prospect to confirm and to be specific that there is this one solitary problem (objection) before you can proceed. If the prospect still wavers you must backtrack a bit and ask directly...”Are there any other reasons why you are not comfortable with my offer?”
When you get the prospect to commit that there is just the one problem…you can now proceed by repeating the objection in a positive manner.
The most common objection is that the price is too high...or they can’t afford it. This could be a real objection or it might just mean that your prospect needs more assurance before they say the magic word…”Yes!”
If the objection is that they think the price is too high you might respond by saying something like “I can certainly understand that you might feel that way. In fact, some of my best customers initially felt the same way you do. However, after they considered the long term benefits and the satisfaction they felt after deciding to accept it… might make you feel more comfortable about your decision to consider it.”
If the objection is that they can’t afford your product or service you might say something like, “I certainly understand how you feel.”
Then… you must go back over the main points of the presentation in a soft informal manner “Let’s see now, you do agree that you have a need (or desire) for what I am offering, right?”
Wait for confirmation. Then, “And am I right in assuming that if you could afford it…. you would probably take advantage of my offer?”
If the prospect agrees ….then the only thing left is to see how you might find a way how the prospect might be able to afford it. Maybe you can discount the price or offer a payment plan. Keep confirming the need or desire along the way and keep asking for “approval”.
If you have established a friendly relationship with your prospect closing the sale can just be a continuation of the normal flow of conversation you have had up to that point. Just slide into the close instead of doing it abruptly.
However, you shouldn’t ask for your prospect’s approval to accept your offer until they have given you a sign that they are ready. “Rushing” to close might disrupt your prospect’s positive train of thought.
So, what might some of these “signs” be? Some of the obvious signs would be questions such as. “How long would it take to get it?” “Does in come in different colors?” “Do you offer terms?” or “Is there a warranty?”
When you get questions like these... answer the question with a question. “How long will it take?” can be answered with the question, “When would you need it?” “Does it come in different colors?” can be answered, “Yes it does, what color would you like?”
No matter what the question ... your answer should be a question… that when the prospect answers it… indicates that they are ready to become your next satisfied customer.
There are other positive signs that your prospect is ready to accept your offer.
When your prospect starts pausing and STOPS making comments or asking questions...is an indication that they are in the process of their final rationalization.
At this point, when it seems right to you, in an unhurried and calm manner, in a soft voice proceed with a “test” question to test the water.
“Do you think you would want to take it home with you… or would you rather have it delivered?” This could be such a “test” question. Of course this question needs to be personalized and conform to what it is you are offering. (I wouldn’t ask this question if you were selling a refrigerator.) If you were selling a refrigerator you could ask, “How soon would you need it to be delivered?”... or.. would you prefer the white or tan one?”
After asking the “test” question you must be very careful. This could be the most important non speaking moment in the entire presentation. The non speaking person is YOU. You MUST NOT interrupt your prospect’s silence. YOU MUST wait for their response before you speak no matter how nervous or uncomfortable you feel. Don’t fidget or distract your prospect in any way.
The final closing can be an easy transition if the prospect answers the “test” question in a positive manner. “ I think I like the tan one the best.”
Your response is a simple relaxed question such as “How did you want to authorize payment for it?”
At this point one of two things will most probably happen. You will have successfully completed the sale or you may hear the dreaded words "I want to think it over."
"I want to think it over " can be translated as your prospect telling you that they will come back to accept your offer at a later date. Statistics prove that the next time you see them might be at a local grocery store when you might run into them. In other words, "I'll be back" usually means "I won't be back."
So how do you face this situation?
Well, statistics also bear out that if a prospect has been sincerely attentive, well qualified and has given indications that they were interested...there is a good chance that they are, in many cases, ...ready to buy at this point. You just need to work a little harder (smarter). They just need a little more help and it's up to you to give it to them. It is not easy for some people to make a decision. They are sometimes nervous and afraid that they might be making a mistake.
Your first course of action should be to relax your prospect and accept their wish to think it over. Let them know that you agree they should not rush into making this decision. By doing this you immediately relax your prospect and relieve some of the nervous pressure that was being felt.
Before either of you leaves the scene... you then in a casual manner... point out that he/she must have a good reason for wanting to think it over..and then ask, "Could you tell me what is it that you need to think about?"
Then, continue asking, "is it something that I haven't explained enough...or confused you about?"
THEN, SHUT UP AND WAIT FOR THE ANSWER !
What you are accomplishing at this point is the continuation of the "closing the sale" process.
If your prospect responds with a specific reason for wanting to think about it...you respond with questions.
The prospect says, "I am concerned about the cost." You respond by asking. "is it how much the investment (not cost) is...or... that you have concerns about being able to afford it?"
THEN, ONCE AGAIN...SHUT UP AND WAIT FOR THE REPLY.
At this point, when you get the reply...you will probably discover what is really on his/her mind...and why there
is the hesitation.
If you are able to take action now you can very possibly get back on the track of "closing the sale."
You say, "I completely understand why you feel the way you do...but remember when we discussed that situation a little while ago?"
You now merely go back over the time during your presentation when the prospect indicated his/her acceptance of what it was you were offering. Try to bring up and reinforce his/her "need" (why they need it)... or "want" (why they want it) and then say something like this...." You know, while I understand your desire to think it over, let me point out a disavantage."
"You have right now all the facts completely clear in your mind. You have a gut feeling about what you "want" to do. After you leave here you might begin to forget some of the facts and information. You might even discuss this opportunity with someone else who does not know all of the facts that you know. Does this make any sense to you?
What's next? SHUT UP AND WAIT FOR THE ANSWER.
The prospect may very well agree to NOT have to think about it any longer...and agree to accept your offer right then and there.
If there still is hesitation you might (if you are able to) make one final attempt by asking this question...
"What if you were to accept this offer now...and I give you some time to change your mind if you decide later that you want to?"
This is tricky and it depends on what product or service you are offering. Naturally, if you are offering a perishable fruit item you can't do this. However, if you are offering a contract to puchase a "fruit of the month" package you might be able to. You might even promise to give the first month "free"... and then let them decide whether or not they want to continue. You get the idea....don't you?
The bottom line in closing a sale is establishing a friendly and relaxed relationship with your prospect (new friend) from the beginning.
Find out about them during the presentation process and be sincerely interested in them. Try not to get into political or religious discussions. If they bring it up listen to what they are saying but (unless you find out they are in the same choir with you at your church) refrain from getting into a debate or discussion. Nod your head and ask a question that might change the subject.
The sample questions and answers contained in this chapter need to be adapted to your own personality.
The substance is right but the exact wordage and style should be your own uniqueness.
If, after trying as hard as you can, you still don’t get their approval…look forward to your next prospect...and read another chapter.
YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION
JUST BECAUSE YOU SELL SOMETHING…. DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE A SALESPERSON
See you next time,