More Techniques for Successfully Closing a Sale
Occasionally, completing the sale requires something extra beyond asking for the order. There isn’t and never will be one close that works every time. That’s why we must learn several closes. You have to know more ways to get your clients to say “yes” rather than say “no.” If you don’t, you won’t succeed in this business.
More Articles in this Series
The Customer Satisfaction Sheet (Testimonial) Close
This is a close that I developed while managing a chain store. Our Customer Satisfaction Sheet was already in place, which was a questionnaire beginning with the buying experience and ending with the installation experience. Each question had small boxes for a “yes” or “no” plus several lines for comments. Below all that was a larger box with the cash on delivery amount and then a line for the customer to sign. Every installer was required to have this customer survey signed if he or she were to be paid.
Every store should use one of these. By knowing that each customer must sign the survey sheet at the end of every installation, the quality, and carefulness of the workmanship was often elevated by the installer. Further, because many questions were installation oriented, the customer was prompted to inspect the work. This helped eliminate installation call backs, especially regarding little things. Signed customer surveys may also assure finance companies of consumer satisfaction before paying your store.
One day, I was attaching the satisfaction sheets to paid invoices when a unique close evolved in my mind. No one in our company ever thought of using the satisfaction sheets as testimonials. I purchased a large three-ring book, punched holes in the sheets, and selectively inserted copies of the wrinkled pages into the book. I titled the book—guess what—customer testimonials.
I made a point to include a few less-than-perfect reviews. On the question, Was the installer courteous and polite?” one customer responded, “Yes, once they finally got here.” Everything else was pristine. I chuckled and thought, maybe you have to be in a difficult installation business where the unexpected is usually expected causing inevitable delays in order to appreciate the humor of that criticism. In the book it went.
Here is the closing technique that followed: I waited until a customer eventually asked about installations or guarantees, etc. After necessary discussion, I implore, “Do you want to see my company’s best guarantee?” Then, I simply handed them the book. I always add, “Not all of those pages are perfect reviews.”
Testimonial closes work by providing evidence from a credible source. Even if they do not entirely trust you, they are much more likely to trust someone who is like them.
Reduction to Ridiculous Close
Let us assume we have done everything right. We have greeted well, warmed up, properly qualified the customer, seemingly met all of her needs and answered all objections while getting agreement on all important issues. But your customer wants to politely say, “Let me think it over.” What you are really hearing is a code for, “I’m not quite sold yet, but I can’t think of a reason not to buy.” This is called a customer stall.
Caveat: While stalls are frustrating, never challenge a stall. She gave you no specific reason for not buying so don’t force her to come up with one. If you force her to invent a reason, she will be inclined to defend it.
When you hear a stall, the important solution is to do a review. Here is a technique for breaking down a stall. It involves a review but with conversational tie-backs of features the customer liked.
Customer: “I want to think it over.”
Salesperson: “I understand. (the cushion) Based on our discussion, you mentioned that you liked the color and style. Do you still feel that this will tie nicely into your décor?” (Listen) ... “In addition, the quality appears to meet your requirements. Do you feel this will hold up in your traffic areas? (Listen and do not say another word.)
Since you asked only for an opinion, she is not likely to give you another stall. Instead, she must agree or give you an objection. If she gives an objection at any point, then you have something specific and you can handle her concern like all objections. If she agrees with you, state, “It sounds like this is an excellent choice for you. Are you sure you don’t want to get this started with a measure? You can change anything you like later.” (Again, do not say another word until she answers. The ball is in her court; let her hit it back.)
Assuming you do not get an objection, her next response will be either of two things:
1. She moves forward. Problem solved.
2. She holds on to her stall: “I still want to think it over, etc.” If this happens, continue the process with added features (ammunition) she liked, “That’s perfectly fine. (The cushion) It’s just that when someone tells me, ‘I want to think it over,’ it makes feel uneasy, like I’ve missed something important. I do hope I have made you feel confident about our installations and my company. Any questions there? And, if I understood you correctly, this price is affordable to you. Do you still feel the price is within you budget?”
Again, she either gives you a hidden objection, or she agrees with your assessment. If she agrees, state, “Well, it appears that you are going to be happy for years to come. Why not just go ahead and get this started with a measure? We can always make changes later. When would be an appropriate time to measure? You pick the time.”
If she is still stalling, state, “Is there anything else at all that is concerning you?” (Use this last only or you are likely to get, “Just the whole thing.”) … Listen and if she has no further objections state, “Wonderful, _____ if you do have any concerns or questions that come up, please call or come back and talk to us, we would love to have your business and do a great job for you.” Careful here there is such a thing as too much drilling and you may destroy the chances of her coming back. “And, I am sure you will think this over very carefully. When do you think we could meet again?”
When asking these questions, wait as long as it takes for her answer. Silence is golden. The longer she hesitates the more carefully she is considering her answer. Find out what is missing and if necessary, create more choices or more clarification. It becomes reduction to the ridiculous.
Of course, we are not going to close every customer first time in. Still, realize when a customer leaves your store unsold or unsure, your odds of closing the sale diminish significantly. Customers who say they “may be back,” most often do not come back (about 80%).
Good selling to you.