If you have been around the world of selling for any real length of time then you have to have said to yourself, “This close sucks!” At least once in a while you have to feel that most of the so-called closing techniques, tips, tricks and magical scripts, just don’t hold much water today.
The reason for this isn’t so much that the techniques themselves are bad, old or actually suck. It is simply that you need to look at them from a slightly different angle; a new point of view. View your old closes through this new thought process and watch how the sucky-ness dissipates!
An Updated Way Of Thinking
In looking at the closing techniques available today, you first want to consider the objections they are used for. In doing this, begin to look at these objections a little differently than the way you thought of them in the past. As an example, if I were to ask you, “Why do you try to overcome objections?” What would you answer?
As you consider that, think about this, “Who is it that actually has the objection?” I am not trying to be funny, I’m serious. Who has the objection? Is it you? It is the prospect who actually has the objection.
Now, the old way of thinking about objections was to think of how to OVERCOME them. However, if you just think about it for a moment, you see that you do not have anything that you need to overcome. It is the prospect who has the problem.
Therefore, you need to
HELP THE PROSPECT OVERCOME THIER OWN OBJECTION.
Does that make sense?
What’s The Difference?
The difference in the two thoughts is in the way you approach the problem. Whereas you could continue to throw rebuttals and reasoning at the prospect in an effort to get him or her to reconsider or change their mind and come around to your way of thinking.
Or, you can understand that it is the prospect who has a problem and give the prospect additional information, answer outstanding questions and
HELP THE PROSPECT MAKE A NEW DECISION.
Partners On The Same Side
Understand that as a professional sales person dealing with today’s modern and educated buyer, that you both want the same thing. You are both on the same side and the sales process is not a fight where someone wins and someone loses.
So when the prospect raises that objection, don’t begin rattling off rebuttals trying to overcome the objection. Instead, work together with the buyer to HELP the buyer overcome their own objection.
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For some reason, an intrinsic part of human nature is to desire that which is forbidden. It seems that whatever it is that we cannot, or should not have, are the very things we want most. Take anything, and deny someone of their right, ability or choice to have it, and they will want it more, simply because they can’t have it.
Hard to Get
Take a child who has no interest in a particular toy. Tell that child that he or she cannot have that toy, and suddenly the child wants it more. As adults, we are the same. We all seem to have an affinity to desire the preverbal “forbidden fruit.”
For some reason, that which is harder to obtain, has more value when possessed. Hence, a cornerstone of relationship theology is that of the act of “Playing hard to get.” A woman may believe that the more difficult it is for the man to gain her affection, the more he will desire and cherish it when obtained. And frankly, that philosophy is often correct.
Going with the Flow
Please understand that I am not going to try to explain the complexities of human nature, nor am I going to try to fully understand such. However, I know that there are ways to capitalize on this inherent human condition. My point is that perhaps you should learn to take advantage of a situation that already exists.
Take it Away
Depending on dozens of factors about what you sell and your selling process; it may be helpful for you to, at some pre-planned point in your sales process, slightly to “take away” the offer or opportunity from the prospect.
You have been pushing benefits and selling throughout the interaction; trying to get the prospect to accept the offer and to envision having it. However, at some point, you may want to reverse that momentum and inform the prospect that maybe they CAN’T have it.
What Do You Mean, I Don’t Qualify?!
This take away concept can easy come in the form of some qualification that prospect may have to meet.
“Susan, as I have shown you, this is a fanatic offer and is guaranteed to make all of your staff more effective and make you more profits. But, let me take a minute and go over a few things…I’m not sure if you qualify for our Super Deluxe Package…”
“What? What do you mean, I may not qualify?”
Stockbrokers in America have always done this very well…
“Ethan, as you can see, all the indicators say that this company is going to explode in growth over the next six months, and the stock is going to pop! It is an incredibly, undervalued bargain at $4.50 a share. However, since you are a NEW account, I am afraid that I can only sell you 100 shares. After we have been doing business longer, then you will qualify for a larger allocation.”
“What do you mean? What if I want to buy more than that?”
The question in the prospect’s mind goes from IF I should buy; to how come I cannot buy as much as I want?
The Water Cooler
This is a complex topic and one that I will devote more time to in the future. In the mean time, don’t get too worked up or go off half-cocked, telling your buyers that they can’t have your product. Calm down and just begin to THINK about this and observe this area of human nature.
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You face some objections so regularly, you know well in advance you will get them and you know how to answer them. You also have customers whom you have closed by overcoming those same objections. Here is a way to leverage those clients to overcome objections and close more sales.
To Start, Make an Investment
To start to build your book of testimonial letters, put your money where your mouth is, and close at the same time. Offer to, in effect, pay the prospective customer for the testimonial letter, while discounting the price and close for the sale. Here is a generic example:
“Ethan, if I understand you correctly, your concern is that our advertising plan may not bring you in the amount of new business I mentioned in the proposal. Is that right?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, you SAY that the plan will bring me in 30 to 40 new customers a month, but I can’t really know that…”
“Ethan, I am so confident that the plan will bring you in that amount and more, that after just two weeks on our service, you will have so much new business, that you will be ready to write a testimonial letter for me. And I am so sure of that, that I will put my money where my mouth is.
Here is a proposal for you. Immediately after our service begins, start to keep record of new customers. Nothing elaborate, but when people come in, just ask them how they heard of you, and note how many say it was from one of our systems.
Then, I’ll ask you to write a letter for me about how many new customers the service brought in; a letter that I will keep with me to show other prospective customers.
I am so confident that your letter will say that our plan brought you in a ton of business and paid for itself overnight, that I will even pay you for that letter right now!
That letter is the best type of advertising we can use. It will help me gain more clients and save us on marketing costs. I will pass some of that savings on to you right now…
I will take £450 off your cost to show you that I am totally confident that you will give me a positive letter in two weeks. Ethan, will you write me a testimonial about how much business the system brought you?”
As always, that is not meant as a script, but a very generic example. Get commitments for testimonial letters as you close and use different objections. Make sure to let the prospect know exactly what the topic of the letter should be. Of course, that topic is the very objection they are using.
The Old Feel, Felt, Found
Now after some time, you have a portfolio of testimonial letters focusing on various objections. Now use those; again to get MORE letters and close MORE sales.
Sarah, I understand perfectly how you feel. Many of my best customers actually felt the same way. In fact, one of those clients owns a shop not far from here and he felt exactly as you. He was uncertain that the plan would work for him as well.
However, he found that it did a fantastic job; so much so, that he even wrote a letter…let me show you… “
Take it to the next level, and have happy and satisfied customers be willing to accept a telephone call from prospective customers.
Use testimonials and elevate “feel, felt, found” to another level!
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Following is one powerfully effective sales close that I am finding is quickly becoming a favourite among many sales people. The three main reasons I like this sales close is…
1. It is simple
2. It HELPS the prospect sort out the issues and see things clearly
3. It HELPS the sales person find the real problem
So, in case you are not familiar with this gem, here it is again! As always, the wording below is just an example of the process and not a script.
Close Like A Winner
You asked for the order repeatedly, tried everything and the prospect will still not budge.
“Steve, I really appreciate your time today and I am sorry that I was not able to help you. But before I go, I would like to ask you just a couple of quick questions and I ask that you please be as straightforward with me as you can, ok?”
“Oh, of course. You always get the truth from me.”
“First Steve, did you like what I showed you? I mean the product/service/plan, did you really like everything?”
“Yes! Like I said, everything looks just great. I just can’t get it right now. But next month, I think we’ll have a deal.”
Note: The prospect should always say something like this, or you instantly know what the problem is.
“Well, Steve, can you see how the product/service will actually save you a ton of money? I mean was I able to show you how it will actually pay for itself right away and continue to make money for you well into the future?”
Note: If the prospect hesitates or fumbles on this answer, you know where you came up short in your sales presentation.
“Absolutely. I believe it will save that and then some.”
“Steve, who do you think will make the most out of this transaction if you got it today? I mean who do you think will actually gain the most, benefit the most in the long run; you, me or my company?”
“Uh, well. I guess I would.”
Note: A negative answer or stumble here and again, you know exactly where you botched it.”
“Then Steve, who do you think loses the most if you don’t get it?”
Note: Try not to let the prospect answer this question as the answer will be in the form of a defence, and it will seem like an attack. Instead, pause just for a second or two, and then get close and personally sincere and…
“Look, Steve, this is about you/your company/your family. You are the winner….”
Note: Extend a hand to shake.
You are the big winner in this…Now let’s go ahead and get this paperwork started…”
Note: Now assume the rest.
Close. Personal. Sincere.
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You know you did your job. You did a great sales presentation, covering all the bases. You uncovered problems and built tremendous value. You are certain that it is clear to the prospect that the value of the product or service far outweighs its cost.
You created urgency by demonstrating that they are losing, hurting by not owning and everyday they lose more. Finally, you anticipated objections ahead of time and knocked them out long before the close. It was a perfect sales interaction.
No Objection, But No Sale
However, after what seemed by all accounts to be a flawless sales process concluded by a perfect sales interaction, the prospect will not buy. To add insult to injury, the prospect cannot seem to explain his or her reason for not buying. They do not have an objection.
“I just don’t understand, Sarah. You said you could see how our XJ1000 will help you and save your organization at least four times its costs and you said it could fit into this month’s budget. I mean, can you give me some idea of why you don’t want to move ahead?”
“Oh, well, I just don’t want to do it right now.”
You’ve heard those types of objections; the, “I really do not have an objection,” objection.
When this happens, it irritates you so much, because you tend to think that the prospect had no choice BUT to say yes. The fact is, you are right, and that is the problem.
No Alternative, No Options, No Choice = No Sale
When your sales presentation covers every possible objection so well, that it leaves the prospect with no choice, they will often object because they have no choice. People do not like to feel trapped or pressured into a decision.
When you leave the prospect with nothing to which they can object, they can feel like they have no control over the decision, and they will resist.
Leave an Opening
If you have that perfect, flawless sales interaction, you may want to leave an objection for the prospect to bring up. The buyer needs to have something to use as a logical justification for what is actually an emotional decision.
They Want to BUY, Not Be SOLD
The buyer needs to feel that he or she made a well-thought-out decision and not that some fast-talking sales person SOLD them. Leave an objection, (that you know you can handle), on the table for the prospect to use.
Then, do not solve the objection too quickly or easily. Take some time with it. Give the objection validity. Then work WITH the prospect to solve the issue.
Remember that your real objective is to HELP the prospect to buy, not FORCE them to.
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You have gone through the entire sales presentation. You have closed a dozen times. You faced and, you thought, you overcame, what seems like a thousand objections; and still the prospect will not buy.
It’s all over and it’s time to leave. Try this last ditch effort. Hey, you have nothing to lose!
No scripts or magic words here. I want you first to understand the philosophy about this concept. When you have lost the sale, the fact is that you have failed. If you believe in your heart that the prospect would be better off by owning what you sell, then if they do not buy, they have to be worse off. Does that make sense?
The prospect is going to suffer, pay more, lose more, save less, or in some way, pay the price for not buying your product or service and it is YOUR fault. You failed to help the prospect see and understand that they truly need what you have. When you do not close the sale, if your only concern is that you lost a commission, you are not yet a true professional. You should feel that you let the prospect down.
So apologise for your ineptness. Apologise that you were not able to help him, her or the organisation.
“I’m sorry. But like I said, I am not going to go ahead with this. It looks great, but I just cannot swing it right now.”
“No Steve. I am sorry. I really apologise to you. I’m sorry. ”
“You have nothing to be sorry about.”
“Oh yes I do. Apparently, I was not able to show you how much you really need our XJ200.”
“No. I can see that I need it…”
“Well, then I was not a good enough sales person to help you see that it will save you thousands of pounds every year.”
“No, you did that. Like I said, it really looks good…”
“Well, then I must not have been capable of making it clear of how easily affordable it is and that it will pay for itself in a short time.”
“I can understand that…”
Accept Apology or Explain
As you can see, with this approach the prospect has to either argue with your apology, in which case he or she eliminates all the objections. Or the prospect can accept your apology, in which case they tell you exactly what the problem is that is holding them back.
“I apologise that I am not a good enough sales person to show you exactly how our help desk software will save you thousands of pounds every month.”
“Well, that’s ok. I think other companies have more problems at their helpdesk than we do…”
Once you found where you came up short in your sales interaction, you can try to go back and fix it.
“You are so right, Sarah. That is what I think I missed. Give me another minute; let me show you how the help desk features work…”
Hey, it won’t save every deal. But you are sure to close a few that you thought were lost!
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Sales people usually look in only a few areas when it comes to finding ways to increase sales. Sales professionals look to increase the total amount of prospects they see by making more calls, sending more emails and increasing their overall prospecting activity. Or, the sales person and management team look to increase closing averages by learning more techniques, overcoming a few more objections or being a bit more persistent.
Understand the Sales Process
However, the easiest way to increase your sales instantly is to concentrate on raising your efficiency in smaller, seemly less important areas of your sales process.
First, you must clearly understand your sales process and your S.O.S. – Science of Selling. You have to know all of your numbers as facts. In other words, you must know your exact closing average, but also your appointment setting average. Exactly how many calls do you make every day and exactly what percentage become appointments?
You must know the exact percentage of people that answer the telephone when you cold call and precisely what percentage of decision makers (DMs) you reach. You have to understand your sales process and S.O.S and you must base these numbers on factually data. Once you have these numbers you can change everything!
Focus on Other Sales Activities
Let us imagine a sales person’s numbers look like this:
20 – Cold Calls
15 – Answers
8 – DMs Reached
4 – Appointments Set
2 – Sales Closed
The Usual Suspects
Again, the usual attack is to try to increase the closing percentage to more than 50% or simply make more than 20 cold calls. However, let us look at the number of DMs reached compared to the number of calls answered. Could we increase the amount of DMs reached, which is barley over 50%? Is the sales person just having bad luck on reaching DMs, or is it more likely the result of sophisticated gatekeeper screens? If the sales person could increase the percentage in this area, sales will increase even though all the other percentages remain the same. As an example:
20 – Cold Calls
15 – Answers
12 - DMs reached = Sales person gets past more screens and increased this percentage
6 – Appointments Set = Number of sets has increased, yet the percentage remained the same
3 – Sales Closed = Closed sales have increased, yet closing average remains the same.
You are not going to double your closing average overnight. However, can you increase the percentage of returned calls you receive or the amount of retuned emails? Can you raise the percentage of people who opt-in for your literature?
Keep good records and be a true professional. Increase proficiency and efficiency in every area of your sales process and you will increase your income.
Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:
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“Sean, what should I say to close a sale?”
“Can you give me 10 of the most effective closing lines to use at the end of the sale?”
“Should I use the assumptive close?”
If I had a pound for everytime someone has emailed me with one of those questions then I’d be on my yacht writing this blog post!
Sales people get hung up about using “closing statements“. They assume that no matter what has gone on before that by asking for the business in the write way that it will compensate for it!
Now that’s just ridiculous!
I’ve even been asked to run workshops that include all of the closing lines under the sun! And they were not even interested in anything else! (I declined!)
The key to getting sales is to make your prospect and client interactions so effective that closing is just a natural progression of your discussion as opposed to a seperate “I’m now in my closing phase!”
The quality of your opening, the questions you ask, how you listen, how you uncover issues and pain, how you present your solutions and how you build up a relationship with this person are all far more important than learning a fancy closing line.
If you get the basics right then your prospects actually close themselves and it all it takes is a:
“Does this make sense to you?”
“In your opinion, is this something that you’d like to go with?”
If you’ve done your job properly upfront then asking these type of questions are just a natural next step in your already non-threatening two way discussion rather than entering into “the close”
The Sales Jedi
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