Do you know the major reason why prospects don’t buy? They were never asked! That’s right, no one asked them for the business.
Strange as it seems, salespeople use all their superior selling skills to get in front of a prospect, qualify him, uncover his needs, match their product or service to those needs, and then they stand back and wait for the prospect to make a decision instead of taking the final step of helping him make the decision.
There are three main reasons why salespeople don’t ask for the business:
- They don’t know what to do.
- They don’t know how to do it.
- They don’t want to do it.
Let’s take a look at the last reason. We all know why salespeople don’t want to ask for the order. It’s the word “NO!” Apparently a NO is eight to 10 feet tall and made of solid concrete. When a NO falls on a salesperson, it crushes him or her to death.
During my thirty-plus years in sales and sales management, I’ve never known a salesperson to die from getting a no. On the other hand, I have known a few who’ve nearly suffered a heart attack from receiving a “yes” they weren’t expecting!
Despite impressions to the contrary, salespeople are sensitive creatures whose egos are easily bruised. Like most human beings, salespeople don’t like the feeling of rejection that comes with hearing the word “no.” Our egos are very tender, and when someone steps on it by rejecting our fabulous offer, we’re crushed. After three crushes, we become demoralized, and who needs that. So, as the theory goes, we try to keep our ego intact by avoiding the noes, and we avoid noes by not asking for the order.
What you must keep in mind, however, is that you’ve got nothing to lose by attempting to close the sale. You don’t have the business before the attempt and you may not have the business after. But one thing is for sure — you’ll be one “no” closer to getting a “yes.”
Get More Noes
The first step to improving your closing rate is to remind yourself that the person who gets the most yeses also got the most noes. You need to learn to deal with the potential bruises to your emotional well-being. This is easier said than done, and the best way to toughen up your emotional skin is through practise. Go looking for noes.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should ask prospects, “You don’t want to buy this do you?” That will certainly get you a lot more noes, but not more business. You’ll get more than enough noes by simply trying to close sales properly.
The next step to improving your closing rate is knowing how to do it. In my experience, lots of salespeople will say they know how to close the sale but, when push comes to shove, they are more talk than action.
When I ask some of them to tell me how they ask for the business, they skate around and say they use the Alternate Choice Close, the Minor Point Close or whatever. But when I ask for an example of the actual words they use, they’re at a loss. In other words, they know what they are supposed to do, but they don’t know how to do it. For the most part, they’re simply not prepared to attempt a close. Are you?
Find What Works
Here’s how I prepared myself and conquered my fear of closing. First, I chose a couple of closing techniques I felt comfortable with. I happen to like the Recommendation Close and the Direct Question Close. Then I wrote the actual words I intended to use on a 3×5 card. I kept this card on the dashboard of my car and, as I drove between calls, I would glance at the card and repeat the words until I had committed them to memory.
I then worked on my attitude by telling myself that I owed it to my customer, my company, and myself to at least attempt a close at the appropriate time. The approach worked because I started getting more noes (as well as a few more yeses).
Prepare the Prospect to Buy
I learned something else, too. It wasn’t enough to just prepare myself to make more closes; I had to prepare the customer as well. And how does one do that? By using trial closes. Many salespeople confuse trial closes with the Alternate Choice Close. A trial close is an opinion-asking question, the answer to which tells you how receptive your prospect is to making a decision in your favour.
Some typical trial closes might be:
- How does that sound?
- If you were to go ahead, when would you want delivery?
- How do you see yourself benefiting from… ?
- How do you feel about all this?
A positive response to any of these trial closes is usually a sign that you should ask for the order. The key is to have one or two trial closes committed to memory and ready to use. Do what I did — write a few on 3×5 cards.
Remember: In closing, there’s no magic formula. Closing is 70 percent attitude, 20 percent technique and 10 percent skill. Prepare yourself, prepare the customer, and do the deed. You owe it to your customer, to your company, and most important of all, you owe it to yourself.