You are now a witness in a criminal court case; and yes, I watch too much “Law and Order.” Imagine if you were in the hot seat, and this was the exchange:
District Attorney: “Where were you on the night of March 22?”
You: “I was at Moe’s Tavern.”
District Attorney: “What time did you arrive and what time did you leave?”
You: “I finished my sales day, restocked my mobile store and went to Moe’s about 7:00 PM and left around 10:00 PM.”
District Attorney: “Did you see the accused, Mr. Wrench, there?”
You: “Yes. Wrench was there.”
What the DA is doing when he is asking you to answer his simple, pointed questions is called “trial closing”. Get it? The DA is getting you to commit to facts that, step-by-step and fact by fact, build a case against the accused – or in this case, Mr. Wrench.
So what does this have to do with selling tools and equipment?
When presenting any product, it is extremely important to get the prospect’s buy-in on at least each of the main benefits, and especially the top features, that you think are important to this particular prospect.
Here are two scenarios to think about. Which one most resembles your style of sales?
You: “Our new storage system has many great features. This system features 16-gauge drawers, each with auto-close; 18-gauge side and top panels, tip-over protection, 8”-polypropylene wheels, three-point contact locks, three USB and three electrical outlets, six available colors, 22 drawer configurations, a double lock personal item drawer and it will hold 1,000 lbs of tools.”
You: “Is this the storage system for you?”
Prospect: “No, it’s not for me.”
You: “Gee, I’m sorry to hear that. What is it you don’t like?’
Prospect: “There seem to be a number of things I don’t understand or that just don’t work for me.”
You: “Our new storage system has many great features. It has heavy duty 16-gauge steel drawers to carry very heavy loads. It also has heavier duty 18-gauge side and top panels.”
You: “I think you’ll agree that the heavy gauge steel in your new storage system will really stand up to your needs, don’t you?”
Prospect: “Yes, it seems heavy duty enough for me”
Prospect: “I don’t know. How do those gauges compare to the competition?”
In this case, the phrase “don’t you” is a trial-close. By staying quiet until your prospect answers this question, you will get either their agreement that this is a good feature/benefit, or you will get their question/objection. When you get their agreement you can move on to the next feature. If they have an objection you can handle it right then and there. You must do your best to get their agreement that this product is made of great heavy-duty materials before you move on. If they will not agree, they may not buy the product. At least as you move through the additional features and benefits of the product, you are aware that this topic could be a stumbling point later on.
There are many ways to trial-close and there is no need to sound like the annoying pushy proverbial used car salesman. What you should consider doing is bringing the trial-close home to the prospect. Make the trial-close personally and specifically about them. Use terms like “yours,” “you’ll” and “you.”
You: “This storage system comes with three USB ports and three electrical outlets. It will be nice for you to keep your phone and your power tool batteries charged at all times, won’t it?”
You: “We offer you the choice of six stock colors for your new storage system. Your old small box is red. Do you want to stick with that color or go with the green color you said you liked?”
When you trial-close your way through a presentation and receive mostly positive agreements for the major benefits, it makes the final close much easier and much more logical for the prospect to understand and agree to.
You: “So Mr. Prospect, we have gone through all the major benefits for you of our new storage system and you agreed that you liked them, especially the (pick any two or three features) heavy gauge steel, the USB ports and the color choices. Which color should I put on your order, red or green?”
First you reminded them that they like your product benefits and then you gave him a choice. This is the old yes or yes close.
You: “As you thought about the important features and benefits of our new storage system you really liked them all, especially the strength of the drawers with their 1,000-lb capacity. Let’s get on the computer and design the perfect system for you…okay?”
Again, you first reminded the prospect and highlighted an important benefit he liked, then you invited him to join in the design of his system. This is the prospect engagement close.
Some side thoughts for successful selling
Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.
In the first scenario above, the prospect asked about the gauge of the competitor’s systems. Don’t over-answer the question, since often it is a simple throw-away remark and not a deal-killing problem. Your first response should be quick and simple: “We checked all the competitors and our total package is stronger than all industry standards. Okay?” Oftentimes this will suffice, and the prospect will be happy. If he brings this up some more, and especially a particular competitor’s, system it tells you several things: that this is really important to him, it could be a deal-killer and he is also looking at buying a system from someone else. So give him the gauges of your product again and if you’ve done your competitive homework, tell him specifically about the competition.
Don’t assume your prospect knows the product jargon
Product managers and marketing managers work very hard to develop new products with new catchphrases, such as: Supports domestic, Asian and European vehicles (1996 and newer OBD-II compliant); Dedicated SMX-Embedded Operating System; Enhanced and Expanded OBD-I Coverage; Exclusive Fast-Track Guided Component Tests. These are all excellent phrases and help set your product apart from the competition. But, do not assume your prospect automatically knows what they mean. As you know, people are not usually open to admitting they don’t understand something. When you present the Dedicated SMX-Embedded Operating System feature, be sure you explain exactly what that is and how it will help your prospect.
If you do not get the order today, be sure you do a little reselling the next time you bring up this product:
“The other day when we were talking about a new storage system for you, you really liked the following features and benefits (again pick out two or three to highlight). Since then, the sales of this new line have really taken off and I want to be sure you get your order in before the factory gets backed up. So, which color will you pick? Red or Green?”
This is a combination of the “get on the bandwagon” and “the yes and yes close” strategies.
Do you have any thoughts on these ideas, positive or negative? Drop us a line; we love to hear from you..
Now… GO SELL SOMETHING!