Sales – Did you ask for the sale?

Have you been on one of these sales calls recently?  The one where everything the sales rep did was right.

  • They probed to understand the customer’s needs
  • They put forth a solid recommendation specific to that businesses needs
  • They responded to every objection flawlessly
  • They presented their company and the products features wonderfully

But the customer didn’t buy. Although the salesperson was doing everything right, the customer didn’t jump up and agree to a contract.  That’s impossible. How could that happen?  Probably because the salesperson never asked for the sale.

Never?  Nope, not once.  Why not?

First, reps should only be “closing” when they have earned the right to ask for the sale.  Some of the tips that follow aren’t worth a darn if you haven’t done the probing and fact finding up front.

Tip #1. Let the customer know you want to sell to them.

Many sales people try to hide or disguise their real intentions of selling to the prospective customer usually because they don’t want to frighten off a potential buyer.  Sure building relationships is important, but if you try to hide the fact that you are selling to a prospect, you can be causing even more objections and barriers to the sale than usual.  Right from the minute you walk in the door they need to know why you are there.

Tip #2. It’s business, not personal.

Perhaps sales reps don’t ask for the sale for fear of rejection.  There could many reasons why sales people don’t use closing techniques during and at the end of what looked to be a successful sales call:

  • Fear of rejection – we all hate that word “No”.
  • Not knowing when to close – simply answered – “always”
  • Waiting for prospects to ask for the order – how often does that work in today’s economy?
  • A lack of confidence due to poor sales techniques or training
  • Not having effective closing lines ready and rehearsed – a training issue?

It does not take a genius to figure out that many sales people don’t like rejection or to hear “NO” when asking for the sale.   It takes some confidence to believe that rejection won’t hurt you:  the customer is not rejecting you personally. They are rejecting the idea of spending their hard earned money for a preogram they have yet to understand, or don’t think has a  worth/ROI that is high enough for them.  Many advertisers have also been conditioned to keep saying no, expecting the price will continue to come down.  Don’t be a Monty Hall.  Stick to the value (and price) your product offers.

Tip #3.  Gain agreement throughout the ENTIRE sales process.

Closing the sale shouldn’t be an isolated part of the sales process, despite what some sales training may suggest.  Most successful reps will tell you that you need to be closing from the start. Gain agreement at each of the sales stages of your selling process. Don’t leave it until you get to the closing stage before you ask for any agreement or commitment

Some sales experts believe you need to your customer to say “yes” at least eight times through trial close questions to secure a sale.  Whether it’s two or five or eight, start right off with trial close questions.

One small technique:  help the customer to say “yes” by nodding your head up and down–they will automatically nod with you. Have you ever tried to say no while you were nodding your head up and down?

Tip #4.  Yes we can.

Never ask a question that your customer or prospect can answer with a “NO”. If you want to meet with someone next week instead of a yes or no question ask give them a choice question that leaves them with options such as: “Which day would you like to meet next week, Monday or Tuesday?”

When a customer responds to trial close questions with maybe’s or indecision, that’s your signal to provide additional support on the value of the advertising program ask additional trial close questions. You hope all of your potential clients are excited about the opportunity to implement an ad program and will say “yes” at every step. But the important thing is that you gently keep bringing them to a point of decision by the time you reach your final close.

Tip #5.  Give them a chance

The whole art of closing sales techniques can be usually summed up in one key phrase, “I’m here to help you.” Consider that approach to your sales presentation. Either you have what your customer wants and needs – or you don’t. If you can identify what your customer wants and you can genuinely address their needs, then you should posture the entire conversation around, “I am here to help you with your need. Here’s the solution we are offering.”

The point is, to be on their side, they need to want what you’re selling; only they may not know it yet. Give them the chance to make the best buying decision – know why they need what you have, and what their options may be.

Be prepared, after your initial program recommendation (and without being too “pitchy” about it) to ask for the sale. Then you’ll probably get an objection, which you need to address, and then ask for the sale again. Each time you get and answer an objection, and only if you successfully answer the objection, then ask for the sale. Of the many sales closing techniques used, this is probably the most unused but potentially powerful piece of advice. Be ready to ask up to 5 times, but without being obnoxious about it.

Have you ever thought about the typical objections you consistently get?  Why not make a list of then and a list of answers for them. Know why a customer would object in this or that way. It may mean that you’re saying/presenting something (or not saying something) consistently, and as a result the same objection comes up again and again.

Tip #6. Assuming the close is even better than asking for it

We all look for closing sales techniques that work, a simple close of “Would you like me to start writing up the contract  now?” or “Are there any other areas you want to consider today along with this recommendation ?” is often the best.  Many customers prefer an open, simple, clear communication; especially when your confidence is apparent in a simple, clear close.

Another option is an alternative close:  This close is typically used when the customer has a choice to make between two programs or options. The customer feels that both may be acceptable, but they are concerned about making the wrong decision. This kind of close may sound something like “Do you prefer the ad in just red or full color?” Another example: “Of the two headings you are considering, which one appeals to you the most?”

The best (and most delicate close) I’ve seen is the assumptive close. You assume the customer wants to buy, and after you’ve gone through your probing, have done the work of presenting a program for them, and have gone through their objections, then you simply assume they’re sold.  You obviously just don’t blurt out the close of “Do you want to buy?” or similar questions. Rather, you close with, “How would you like to pay for that? We have several plans…”  I have even seen reps start writing up the contract as the objections begin to slow down or diminish.  At this point, the customer will do one of three things: shut you down totally and make it clear they are buying today, raise new objections to the sale and ask for more information, or agree and close the deal. That sounds likes a 2/3rds chance of closing to me.

That’s a short list of closing techniques.  What’s your favorite one???

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