A good salesman (or woman) is a lot of things. A good communicator, a polished networker, multi-tasker, always looking to improve and several more. Hands down there is one attribute that a successful salesperson needs to excel at or not a commission would be paid and that’s being a “closer”. You can have the best rapport, prices, product or warranty but if you can’t close the deal it means nothing and you get paid nothing.
Are people born “closers”? Is it natural? Can one learn to become a closer? Of course, but like everything else it takes practice. In some situations and in some industries your efforts with the customer will get them to close on their own, this is rare and should be considered a gift but not unseen or unheard of.
Every sales cycle has a moment of “decision hovering” when time stands still, your heart is beating at a much higher rate, and the customer is silent and maybe even looking at the contract. Rarely will that end up with the customer becoming a client, and signing their John Hancock on the dotted line. Closing begins far before that moment, and if successful bypasses that uncomfortable impasse.
“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Ben Franklin Close – The oldest closing technique known to man is often referred to as the “Ben Franklin” close or in some corners of business the “balance sheet“ close. In his autobiography Benjamin Franklin makes mention of a tool he developed that helped him make important decisions that often had him choosing between two different courses of action. He would take out a clean sheet of paper; draw a line horizontally along the top of the sheet and then one vertically down the middle creating a “T”. On the top of one side he would put “pros” and on the other side “cons”. He would continue to list all the pros and cons for going forward with the decision and holding against making the decision. Upon completion he looked at which side had more items listed and went that way.
In this day in age the above average consumer has heard of this technique and perhaps has even used it in their lifetime or at least had it done to them making it very difficult for them not to feel like they are being “sold”. The worst thing a salesperson can hear is “stop selling me”. Although I truly believe in the right situation the Ben Franklin close works perfectly. At the very least you can use it yourself, I do. I like putting things down on paper and when you have a lot on your mind, putting the pros and cons on two sides of a paper cleans things up a bit.
Takeaway Close – By far one of my favorite closing techniques is the “takeaway close”. When used I think it has the highest success ratio, but it comes at a price. It is also the riskiest. After everything about your service or product is explained, and all of their questions have been answered “it’s closing time”. Ask for the order or deal, if there is hesitation then take it away from them.
“This car, insurance plan, investment, house etc. isn’t right for everyone and I totally understand if it isn’t for you.” Then gather your things slowly and prepare to stand up from the table, if your antennas picked up the right signals you’ll be asked to sit back down and answer one more questions before closing the deal. The risk? You have to be ready to walk away from the business. Rarely does anyone come back after experiencing that. But in the end they weren’t going to buy anyhow and you didn’t waste any follow up time into it. But as I mentioned in the teaser, closing starts way before the end of presentation or negotiation. Here are some tips I have accumulated along the way and have made note of. I hope you get as much out of them as I have.
- Silence. I have a print out with the words “shut up” above the doorway so when I am on the phone I can always see it. I heard from a much more experienced salesperson that after your sales pitch is done clam up. The first person either you or the customer to speak, loses. The sound of silence also builds the feeling of uneasiness which just might be the thing to bring out the real objection, allowing you to answer that concern and…..close.
- Mirroring. I read a long time ago about how people naturally in conversation mirror another both in voice, emotion, topic, and body language. It is a natural phenomenon. If this occurs in a natural setting of mutual communication then it could definitely be beneficial in an unnatural conversation, i.e. buyer vs. seller. You have your intentions and the buyer has their intention. They cross their arms you cross yours. Hand in pocket, you go fishing for change.
- ABC – Sure you have heard it, always be closing. Basically as a salesperson you always have to be thinking on closing. Recently I read an article that paraphrased closing as fly fishing. If you tug hard and fast on the line, it will snap and you lose the fish. The correct way to reel in the big prize is by coaxing the fish, slowly and gradually bring in the fish. And sometimes when they are spooked you have to let them out again only to slowly bring them back in after they have calmed down.
- Buying Signs – You need to have your radars up at all times. Questions being asked are often the easiest “tell” that they are ready and waiting to buy and be closed. “What is the lead time?”, “How long is your warranty?”, “Do you have a return policy?”. All of these questions and more are like letting a gazelle loose in the lions exhibit at the San Diego zoo. “pouncing time”.
- vs . – As an Education Consultant for a computer training company whose customers were the career changers that wanted to get into the networking, CISCO-esque field (when it was hot); the owner of the company was one who drilled into us the Neiman Marcus attitude vs the Macy’s experience. Now don’t get me wrong, Macy’s is my favorite department store but where if you asked a salesperson where the jewelry department is you are given directions and sent on your way; Neiman Marcus takes you by the hand practically and escorts you to the area of interest. Go the extra mile. Get back to them promptly with the right answers, thank them for considering you for their business constantly.
What are your tips on closing or techniques?
“We miss 100 percent of the sales we don’t ask for.” –Zig Ziglar