Closes that Work: Part 2
In part one, we discussed some antiquated closes that are no longer effective. Though these outdated closes are still widely taught in selling seminars, today’s customer is too astute to be tricked by such manipulative closes in a digital world.
We further discussed trial closes, which are questions that show the buying temperature of your customer. With a trial close you are asking for opinions, not decisions. “How does that sound?” … “Do you have any questions so far?” … “What are the next steps you’d like to take?” These questions create mini-commitments that gradually decide a positive conclusion to the sale. These tie-down statements make sure the proper value to close has been achieved.
Some salespeople believe closing is jamming the buying decision down the customer’s throat. “I am a strong closer.” … “I close early and close often.” I have heard these or some alteration of these claims many times from salespeople – “I can close anybody.” … “Just call me the hammer. … I close hard.” These phrases suggest that the act of closing includes some use of force or control to push the sale through. It is no wonder so many salespeople feel they can never become the great closer they want to be. They know their clientele would never tolerate such an obnoxious approach from a salesperson.
In general, hard closing techniques that are associated with a “take it or leave it” mentality are too forceful for most buyers. Warm closing techniques based on suggestions that allow buyers to feel they are doing something based on their own desires, work best in persuading customers to make final decisions.
The most obvious prerequisite to closing is trust. Becoming the trusted advisor is critical. If she doesn’t trust you, she won’t trust your close. I can only surmise that the “strong closer” described above may need some serious help in the areas of greeting, relating, listening, presenting, and asking questions that communicate. If a close is to be effective beyond anything, trust is essential.
Below are several closes that, when called for, will be constructive in finalizing or inspiring a floor covering sale. There are hundreds of additional closes to choose from through many books and authors and in varied terms and similarities. This brings me to an unusual dilemma. Because there are so many authors and variations on closes handed down and refined by generations of gifted salespeople, it is difficult to give ownership of any particular close to any one author. It appears that nameless salespeople, initially bearing a selling dilemma, had an inspiration about the buying psychology of people, and therefore invented connected closes.
Closes That Work:
Ask for the Sale: When everything is settled, there is an elementary close that is effective. It’s called asking for the order. While I am enthusiastic about other closes that follow, please be aware that many selling situations do not need a closing technique beyond asking for the order. When your customer has no further questions, and you have covered all important points, just ask, “Great! If everything is in order, let’s get this going.” … “When would be a good time to measure?” … “When would you like to have this installed?” Of course, many times, conditions may even unravel to a point that your customer may actually ask you to move things along, but don’t count on it.
It is astounding how many salespeople never ask for the order. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s as simple as that. The prerequisite to this close is that you have asked plenty of opinion questions that have been met with positive responses. You commit no serious fouls in this close and you can always close in other ways later if needed. According to estimates, just by asking for the order, we can increase our closing ratio by about 200 percent.
Let me tell you my definition of closing in this case: After all steps of the selling process are seemingly complete, closing is simply asking for a decision when you are pretty sure a person will say, “Yes.” The reason you know is that your customer has given you plenty of feedback and positive signals in either words or body language.
Still, there may be a time when you try to close, and the customer is not ready despite your best probing abilities and she lets you know it. Simply state: “I’m sorry. I thought you were ready to go ahead with the purchase. I didn’t mean to rush you. What other concerns do you have that we haven’t addressed?”
The Calculator Close: This is a basic close that most experienced salespeople sometimes use to complete a sale. This close may be extended to the hesitant customer who just needs something extra-special to tilt the balance of the sale. The calculator close is based on the principle of fair exchange: I help you and you then help me by buying the product.
When offering the calculator close, I sometimes begin with, “Let me get you the sale price on this item.” Using a calculator, create a slightly tighter quote. Working on the calculator infers that you are not just quoting any price but creating an exclusive deal. You may want to refer to a confidential price book to illustrate the distinctiveness of this close. Further, you are projecting an air of authority by performing what appears to be a complex task.
By calculating a special price for your customer, we create a sense of finality to the action. To ask for a further reduction would be asking for something beyond fairness or politeness.
Good, Better, Best Close: Many selling authors believe in always showing the better merchandise first. The theory is that you can always go down in price, but it is more difficult to go up in price. As a different approach, after qualifying the customer, first take her to the target range of products that best suits the need. At the proper time, be sure to discuss a lesser alternative in price and quality. For example, “In case this suits your budget better…”
At some point, suggest a higher quality. For example, “Perhaps price is not all you are looking for…” Or, “For the fun of it, let me show you some other things I think you might really like.” Show excitement while doing this. I show at least one upgrade and one below the target choice. This creates a ‘good, better, best’ comparison shopping within your own store. This technique allows you to move in separate ways with quality, price and fashion. When offering the step-up quality, I always add, “And your house will look like a showpiece.”
The customer’s responses are revealing when they realize the small price difference on a significant expenditure for their aspiring home. Further, offering good, better, best selections curbs competitive shopping with other stores because you have the comparative shopping built in internally. Remember, most customers can spend more than they pretend. This concept may be especially useful in credit selling because you can further break these cost differences into monthly payments.
“If I Could, Would Ya” Close: This is a closing technique that was successfully used on me with one of my suppliers. I had taken over an existing store, and the previous owner had ordered a display I was under no true obligation to buy. I felt the sampler had all the wrong patterns based on what I believed would sell best. After much discussion of what I would have selected, the manufacturer’s representative said, “If I could get all these samples for you, do you want the display?” He had me. I had little choice but to say “yes” because I had customized the product making it specifically acceptable to my needs.
The display was expensive, but I had clearly articulated what I would have bought and based on my own arguments, I needed it. To reject the offer, I would appear to be two-faced. Did he simply ask me for the order or did he “close me?” I believe it was a close! I bought the sampler.
Anytime a customer finishes sounding off about an objection or objections that can easily be managed, a straightforward way to close the prospect is to restate the concerns in your own words, “So what you are saying is… Is there anything else that is bothering you?” Then, “If I could do that for you, would you be agreeable to the order?”
The customer must say something. She has set her own trap; you are just candidly asking the prospect to accept her own words. Now is a crucial time to be silent. If she answers “yes,” you have an order. If she hedges, she must back track on her own words. Or, if she offers new objections, explore her new wisdom, offer a new solution without demeaning her.
When the right occasion presents itself, this close works like a charm. What is noteworthy about this down-to-earth close is that asking for the order is inherently part of the close.
Good closing techniques, when used wisely, facilitate buying decisions. These methods give you added tools to consummate the order. Closing techniques, based on the situation, your personality, and with enough mental practicing skills, should feel natural to both you and the prospect. If your closes, in any way, feel out of place or manipulative, do not use them. Instead, it may be constructive to continue using added trial closes.
In the next issue, other creative closes will be examined to increase the effectiveness of completing a sale.
Good selling to you.