No one makes a sale without asking for the order. But, next to cold-calling, most salespeople say asking for the sale is the hardest part of selling. I’m sure it’s no easier for mobile jobbers. In fact, since you probably do less cold-calling than the average salesman, closing may be the most difficult aspect of selling that you face in your average day on the road.
To help, I’d like to give you my list of “Seven Magic Closing Tricks.”
I’d like to, but I can’t. First, I don’t have seven magic closing tricks. That’s because there is no magic formula for selling. Selling is hard work. And second, I don’t believe in tricks. Good salesmanship is not based on tricks or gimmicks like a slick con man would use. Selling is based on communicating, listening and understanding your customer’s wants and needs.
But I do have three closing methods that can help you be more profitable.
Trial, trial again
The goal of closing is to get to “yes” as quickly as possible — without rushing or railroading your customer. I don’t just say this because your time is precious; I say it because your customer’s time is precious. Not wasting his time shows you respect him.
I recently changed phone providers. I talked to two sales reps from two different firms. One gave me prices, asked for the sale and listened to my response. The other one talked so much he talked me into and out of a sale in the same call. I’m too busy to waste time listening to someone tell me everything short of how Bell invented the phone to sell his service. Waste my time and you’ll lose my business.
Instead of waiting until the end of a long sales pitch or demo to ask for the sale, successful jobbers use Trial Closes. A Trial Close is a question or small decision that tells you if the customer is ready to buy.
For instance, when demonstrating a gas analyzer you might ask: “Do you think you’d want the model with a built-in printer?” If they answer “yes,” you can probably get ready to ask for the order. If they say “no,” demonstrate a few more features and benefits. Then ask another Trial Close question. Every decision they make is a step closer to a sale.
Sometimes, assuming is good
Your customer wants to feel he’s making the right buying decision. The last thing he wants is to sense you’re not confident he should buy your product. Sometimes you can make a customer hesitate just by the way you ask for the order.
I actually witnessed a salesman try to close a sale with: “You wouldn’t want to buy the heavy-duty model, would you?” Now, who wouldn’t be convinced by that? Convinced the salesman isn’t convinced, that is.
A simple way to avoid creating a false sense of doubt is with an Assumptive Close. An Assumptive Close supposes that your customer is ready to buy. Basically, you just start taking the order. And you’ll be surprised how often it works.
An overly forward question like “So, do you want to buy it?” can feel like you’re pressuring your customer. And when people feel pressure, the natural instinct is to walk away. Although it may seem counterintuitive, assuming the order, if done properly, is a much more subtle approach. It also avoids the customer’s other natural instinct: procrastination.
Pick a can, any can
I was running errands one weekend. I quickly picked out a couple items at a local drug store and turned to the checkout. My son, PJ, who was my shadow for the day, approached with a can of Pringles in each hand.
“Which do you want, dad?” he asked, smiling.
“Ranch sounds good,” I said, taking the can from him.
“I like the jokes ones,” he said, handing me the other can. “They’re on sale.”
As I was walking out of the store it dawned on me: I didn’t set out to buy chips.
In fact, PJ didn’t ask me if I wanted Pringles. He asked me to choose one. The technique he so skillfully executed is called a Choice Close. He gave me a choice that gave me no choice but to buy a can of Pringles — or in this case, two.
I think the Choice Close is actually just a different flavor of the Assumptive Close, but I tend to prefer it. Suddenly writing up an order can come off as very brash. Asking for a choice makes your customer feel in charge. As I’ve preached in this column before, “Success comes from being in control of the sale — without being controlling.”
Be real and be real successful
Again, these aren’t magic tricks. I don’t guarantee they’ll work every time on every customer. But I do believe, used properly, they can increase your closing ratio.
The key to successful closing is not pushing a customer into buying, but pulling them into a discussion. Ask sincere questions. Then be quiet and listen — really listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t just nod your head and think about what you’re going to say next. Look them in the eye and listen.
In the final analysis, the most successful mobile jobbers are the ones that are genuine, put their customers first, and ask for the sale. No magic tricks required.
Phil Sasso is the president of Sasso Marketing, an aftermarket advertising and public relations agency. Sasso is also a speaker and a consultant. One of his favorite Pringle’s jokes: “Why was the computer tired? It had a hard drive.” Sign up for his free marketing tip e-mail on his blog at philsasso.blogspot.com.