Written by Sean McPheat |
One question that comes up more than any other on our sales courses revolves around the art of closing the sale. Many delegates ask if we can give them the ‘magic pill’, the statements that will work with every prospect, as if they need to be hypnotised into making the decision to buy from us.
Some people actually develop a fear of closing that drives them away from the profession. This is usually because of a mixture of ignorance of closing techniques and shyness about asking for the order. Many sales have been made simply because the person had the courage to simply ask for the order.
What are the main reasons for failure to close?
Firstly, it’s the fear of failure. Most of us are so psychologically programmed toward success as being the only worthy goal, that the mere thought of failure frightens us into a semi-paralytic state, in which we are afraid to ask for the order or final decision for fear of being refused.
We seem to think that so long as the prospect is not asked for the order we have avoided failure even though we don’t get the sale. We are petrified we might hear words like, ‘No!’ ‘Not interested!’ ‘Sorry, I don’t want it!’
These words hurt our egos, although, in reality, they are only words, and they will only hurt if we allow them to. If you cannot learn to take ‘no’ for an answer and bounce right back without allowing it to affect your confidence, then you had better look somewhere else for a job. You will never make it in selling.
Some people fail to close because of guilt feelings. They feel ashamed. They feel as if they are time-wasters begging for a living instead of people helping other people solve serious problems. This guilt feeling usually exists in those who do not yet fully understand the power of what they are selling and what benefits it can bring the prospect. A ‘no’ is a challenge, not a red light to stop the salesperson. If you aren’t proud of what you are doing, then you would be better off if you didn’t do it. There is no room in selling for those who are ashamed of it.
Some people fail to close because they misunderstand the need of the prospect; they think the prospect will automatically buy at the end of the presentation. Of course, some prospects do buy at the end of the presentation. But it has been proved that a larger percentage of prospects will buy if a good close is used than if it isn’t, because many of them need a push to get them to act. It is easier to do nothing than to take action. Such prospects need a push and that’s what you’re there for.
Also, some salespeople just get so bogged down meeting objections that the thought of trying to close never enters their minds. They are fighting for their lives; they are confused; they have lost control of the sale. The close must be so natural to the salesperson that he or she swings into it at every opportunity automatically.
So what can you do?
A customer does not normally buy just because the salesperson has talked at him until there is nothing more to talk about. However skilled your closing may be, it will not lead to a sale unless you have already aroused the customer’s desire to buy.
You simply cannot succeed by using tricks at the last moment. The closing technique can only produce buying action when the customer is already considering the proposition seriously.
The art of closing is to introduce the suggestion of buying in such a way that even if the customer reacts negatively, the sales conversation can still continue. Prepare your approach to closing before you start your sales presentation. Be prepared for every possible objection, even for the worst objection of all, a downright refusal to buy. The close begins at the start of your conversation.
If a customer feels ready to buy, it isn’t difficult for a salesperson to sense the fact. The customer’s manner of speech and facial expression give it away. You can be sure he is ready to buy:
This is what you can do when you get the appropriate signal:
A recent study into why buyers buy found that 71% of buyers bought because they liked, trusted and respected the salesperson*. You will make more sales if you become your customer’s trusted adviser than if you remain a salesperson. You must cultivate an atmosphere of trust between you and your prospect before any selling can take place.
Your belief in what you sell should be so strong that you find it virtually impossible to understand why anyone would not buy from you. That will give you the confidence to ask for the order and overcome the fear of closing. And that can only be good for business!
* source: Jeffrey Gitomer
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
Originally published: 27 August, 2010