- haven't set clear selling objectives- but you are the most marvellous 'closer' in the world
- haven't planned and prepared your sales call,
- haven't clearly explained the purpose of your call,
- haven't maintained and sustained your prospects attention throughout,
- have only carried out a cursory investigation of your client's needs and wants,
- have not matched your offers' benefits to those needs and wants of your buyer,
- have not handled and not answered your client's objections and concerns
WHAT HAVE YOU CLOSED ON ?!!!!!!
It seems so obvious to state this - yet still in 2011 you see recruitment advertisements in the on- line sales recruitment sites asking for "Closers" as if that is all that is all that is required or worse implying that closing is some kind of knack or magic trick of the trade.
The close of the sale cannot stand by itself - it is the logical end to a well planned and well executed presentation.
(Photos in this post are of commerical buildings in the City of London ( Financial district), the Shell building South bank of the Thames and an office in Hammmersmith, West London)
No method of closing is likely to succeed if the presentation has been weak; on the other hand even a good presentation may not ensure the business if it is not properly concluded.
To bring any sale to a successful conclusion you must keep your decision based objective clearly in mind and close on that objective by obtaining from the client either:
• firm commitment (e.g. a signed purchase order, a verbal acceptance)
• positive agreement (e.g. that you will be specified in future, that you will be given an order when the need next arises).
When to conclude or close
The timing of the close is important. You can fail to achieve your objective by attempting to close too soon - before your prospect has enough information on which to base their decision - or by going on too long and spoiling an otherwise sound presentation.- in effect talking your way out of a sale.
This does not mean there is only one ‘psychological moment’ at which to close.
It does mean though that your close should be planned.
At every stage of your offer, ask questions to ensure that your prospect has understood what has been said - and perhaps more importantly, agreed with it.
Checking for these ‘yes responses’ will ensure that any doubts, disagreements or objections are brought out at the appropriate time.
For example “Are you happy with what I’ve said so far?” or “Is that type of service quality important to your company?” sometimes referred to as trial closes
As the interview progresses, you should watch and listen for ‘buying signals’ - indications of how the prospect’s mind is working. A buying signal may be physical
(e.g. picking up your sales literature); or it may be verbal (e.g. “What is delivery on this?”). The prospect has not yet definitely decided to buy - but is considering doing so.
When buying signals are observed, you can afford to become assumptive and change from “If you have this” to “when you have this”. You must develop the skill of becoming gradually more assumptive as the ‘yes responses’ become more positive.
Sometimes your buyer will close the sale themselves naturally, but if not you should try to close on a buying signal which comes towards the end of your planned presentation.
How to conclude or close
You must always be prepared to ask for the decision.
Sometimes simply asking will be sufficient, but here are 7 basic techniques (and many other variations/combinations thereof) which can be used to make the asking more effective:
•1. Assumptive close: maintain the positive momentum of ‘yes responses’ and ‘buying signals’. Use that momentum to close by wording the close carefully.
Not “Do you want to go ahead?” but, “How soon would you like delivery?”
• 2. Alternative close: offer a choice of two (or sometimes more) positive alternatives in terms of timing, specification, colour, payment method, delivery etc.
e.g. “Would you like the ads to start in March or April?” “Would you prefer delivery to gate C or gate D?” " It is available in blue or green - which would you prefer?"
This method is the only one, which in itself asks for a decision and can be used either by itself or with one of the others.
It is particularly effective because you are asking the prospect to decide ‘yes or yes’ rather than ‘yes or no’ - even if both are rejected, your prospect has not rejected your offer itself, only those particular choices.
• 3. Summary close: briefly summarise the main points of your discussions and presentation, paying particular attention to the benefits of your offer as it relates to your prospect’s needs, wants, problems and priorities; in a competitive situation also emphasise those factors about your company and your product or service which your competition cannot match.
• 4. Verbal proof close: refer to an existing client or a particular case history, or white paper outlining what your company has done and the benefits derived; this will build confidence in your prospect’s mind and show that you can also provide the same benefits for their organisation.
The ‘verbal proof’ must, of course, be true and if possible capable of being checked - documentation or a letter of reference will add impact and increase credibility. And if you can cite a prestigious, local or relevant, and similar existing customer, so much the better.
• 5. Concession close: encourage the prospect to make a positive decision by offering a concession (within company policy) which is either designed to apply time pressure (e.g. a small price reduction for an immediate order) or to show that you personally are providing specially good service for that particular prospect (e.g. a small specification change at no extra cost). Concessions should be kept till the very end and used only if necessary - if a concession is introduced too soon, or if it is seen to be available to everyone, its impact is reduced.
• 6. Caution close: introduce a note of caution by explaining the disadvantages of not making a positive decision.
e.g. “So that you will have sufficient stock for the new season shall we...” “To avoid any unnecessary expense shall we double the order at the current price before the price rise is due to take place next month” The overall message being put across is “... you would be well advised to order now - Buy now while stocks last ...”
• 7. Isolation close: if your client raises a last-minute objection, try and make sure there is nothing else stopping them from going ahead. “So if we can take care of that point of concern, Charlie, will you attend the demonstration?”
There is no one best way to close, but there is a best time - when the presentation is complete, and when you have been getting sufficient ‘yes responses’ and ‘buying signals’. At that point your buyer is convinced, so that is the best time to close.
You should prepare and practise as many of the different methods as are appropriate to your business. Then you will be flexible enough to react correctly in every sort of selling situation. Such practise also helps you build your confidence where 'fear of trying to close due to fear of rejection can hold one back from asking for commitment.
Don't be a "Charlie" be an "Alfred"Just think to that toe curling scene in the Film "Four weddings and a funeral" when Hugh Grant's character Charlie waffles on about the Partridge family instead of asking the question of the girl of his dreams played by Andie MacDowell.
Alfred Tack , the father of UK sales training said once " If you don't try and close- you are working for the competition!"