In 1936, Dale Carnegie published one of the best-selling books of all time called, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He wrote, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” This is as true today as it was in 1936. So, without surprise, buyers often base their buying decisions on beliefs about emotional circumstances or preconceived conditions rather than logic or sound information.
Before moving on to specific closes, let me make an important point: I believe in a humanistic approach to selling. However, if I can facilitate the customer’s path of purchasing, and if this is a product she needs and will appreciate, and there are no detrimental conditions to anyone, then I have no qualms in the occasional use of psychological creations or inspired settings to create whatever logical or emotional justification is necessary to influence the customer’s outlook and buying inclination. Sometimes closing is about meeting the customer’s prophecies, beliefs and expectations. This does not mean that it is okay to misrepresent the product, its benefits or compromise your integrity.
The T.O. Close
The turnover close, sometimes referred to as the takeover close, is older than the hills, but it still works when used properly. The T.O. is simply a maneuver to engage needed help. Traditionally, it involves introducing a symbolic authority in the form of another person. The sales manager (or acting sales manager) may say in different words, the same things as the salesperson except with a new face, a fresh voice, and a different personality. Other times the sales manager might extend even greater benefits.
This close is often used with difficult sales situations where the salesperson has reached an impasse, or your customer is leaving and in need of a last effort. It may also be used when the salesperson senses a personality conflict. With this simple tactic, it is often amazing to watch a difficult prospect melt in the hands of another person.
I keep an ongoing arrangement with other salespeople where if either of us are losing a sale, before the customer leaves, we ask the customer’s permission to have a quick chat with the sales manager to consider further options. If nothing else, the quick chat affords you some added time to refocus and figure out the reason your customer is not buying. Your customer is going to buy her floor somewhere – why not with you?
This technique is slightly different than the T.O. close. When everything is settled, yet the customer remains hesitant, you may offer, “If I could persuade a manager to give you a little better price would that help you?” Of course, the customer will rarely say no to a lower price. Upon getting the customer’s permission ask, “Assuming I can help you with price, are there any other concerns beyond price that may be holding you back?” (Listen and if necessary, handle any further objections with solutions.) Then ask, “Wonderful, if I can do this for you, would you be willing to move forward with the purchase?”
If she stays unsure, don’t get the better price until you have uncovered any reason she is hesitating. Something is still missing, and you must find out what it is. Sometimes it is necessary to review important points and make sure your customer is in agreement.
Next, go to a manager (or acting manager) gaining extra time to think and return with whatever incentive (kept as ammunition) is needed to complete the sale. Say to the customer, “I have good news; let’s go sit down at my desk, so we can talk.” Once seated, relate the improved conditions and say, “If this is acceptable, when would be a good time to measure?” Remain silent.
The basic principle here is that the salesperson is setting up an exchange; you have put yourself out for them, so they are now obliged to do something for you — like buy the product. This technique may be amplified by the fact the manager is seen as a dreaded figure of authority while the salesperson is a courageous warrior fighting for the customer. Asking the manager may also paint a picture of compromise and credibility. This closing method also puts a break in discounting because people will believe that the manager’s price is final.
The It’s In-Stock Close
This close best applies to in-stock selling. In most industries, customers often perceive or ill-conceive ideas of the most economical or value-based way to buy. The floor covering industry is no exception to such perceptions. To receive the best deal, some customers perceive in-stock goods as the way of a bargain.
Because we are in a fashion business, and because in-stock inventory limits possibilities, it is sometimes necessary to expand choices while holding on to the in-stock concept. After the necessary blends of color, style, quality and size are determined, and if these exact combinations are missing from inventory, it may become necessary to improvise the sale. To do this, make sure that similar or exact samples with the full range of colors are available. You may even lay several of these alternative colors next to in-stock goods as added choices “on order” for near future warehousing.
Using the desired sample color, call the mill and check available stock of merchandise that will meet your customer’s needs. Inform your customer of the delivery time and if necessary, add a small price increase. Do not allow this customer to stay in the marketplace; ask for the order, take a deposit and measure. In this way, you create a solution that meets the aspirations and needs of the customer and you secure the sale. I used this all the time on remnant customers.
A few words about deposits. Upon ordering, it is generally important to receive a deposit. Half down is the preferred target amount on the installed total. This equal amount gives both the customer and the store equal leverage if things go afoul. Things sometimes go wrong despite best efforts – installation, supplier delays, etc. With half down, one could potentially break away from a contract after completion without a major loss if conditions were such that the customer underhandedly refused to pay the balance.
I once had a customer who refused to pay a deposit, then after the completion of the installation, declared bankruptcy. Another time, I had a customer who was refusing to pay a deposit upon ordering. I explained that without a retainer, a client could back-out of an order when we had substantial monies invested. My customer was unbending, and I was as well. I asked the customer, “So you want us to make a commitment to you?” He said, “Yes.” Then I asked him, “How are you making a commitment to us?” He had no answer. No order is sold without a deposit.
Good selling to you.