Every industry has its own specific challenges.
During training sessions, the people working in those industries talk about their favourites but there is always one that becomes the problem they have the most trouble with.
In sales, the big problem is closing the sale. The way most salespeople verbalise this problem is;
“I don’t want to come across as a pushy salesperson.”
That translates to the fact that the vast majority of humans have a need to be liked. It’s a short mental step from there, to;
“Closing = pushy = people won’t like me if I attempt to close”.
That’s the simple truth. So if you are a sales manager, don’t believe any of those smokescreen excuses you hear as to why your salespeople aren’t converting more of the opportunities that come their way.
Here’s what you can do about it.
Teach your salespeople about “The Purchaser’s Flight Path”
There are six questions we all ask ourselves (usually unconsciously) as we go through the process of making a purchase. These questions apply whether we are buying a newspaper or a house. They are also sequential i.e. the questions are always in the same order.
Therefore, just like a pilot’s flight path, if the salesperson doesn’t answer the six questions in order and to the satisfaction of the purchaser, they won’t get to their desired destination i.e. a sale.
1. Do I trust the salesperson/ company/ product?
If they like you, this is a good start, but a good salesperson will get the trust of the purchaser. They take time to ask lots of questions in order to build trust and rapport. They allow the purchaser to direct the conversation by asking ‘W” questions.
What, Why, Where, Who, When and of course How?
2. Can they (and or their product) do something for me that I either cannot, or choose not to do for myself?
Once you are sure you have empathically built trust and rapport, you then need to explain, according to what they told you they want, what your product or service can do for them.
Follow the Features versus Benefits process. Make a note of all the features of your prodct or service i.e. what it is and what it does. You now need to convert these features into tangible, valuable benefits for your customer. Talk more about the benefits than the features.
Features tell – Benefits sell! Convert features (so what?) to benefits (so that).
3. Is it good business? $ $ $
I added the dollar signs to the end of question three because once they have decided they trust you (1) and that you have something they need/ want (2), then they will ask themselves, from a financial perspective, whether it is a good deal.
They will compare your product or service to the competition, the benefits as related to cost and to your offer. This is the time to introduce any special offers you may have up your sleeve but only when you know they are genuinely interested, having gone through the first two steps.
4. Do I really want it?
Strange as it may seem, this question doesn’t come into play until this point. Until they start to get serious about making a commitment and giving you their credit card.
I call this the bungy effect. Imagine standing at the edge of a bungy jump with the cord around your ankles. How would you feel? Nervous right?
Knowing you want to jump but feeling afraid to at the same time. This is a natural human tendency. Don’t worry. If they didn’t want to jump they would never have been standing at the edge of the bungy jump would they?
This is where closing techniques come in. Gently encourage them to jump by reaffirming the benefits, but only if you feel, ethically that it’s the right thing for them to do. Pushy salespeople urge people to buy whether or not it’s the right thing for the purchaser to do.
5. Do I want it now?
At this point, they are convinced they want it but still have that natural hesitation. This is the point where you will hear that old phrase “We want some time to think it over”. How frustrating!
You know they want it. You know they will love it and get lots of benefit from it yet they are about to utter those immortal words and walk away, never to return.
At this point I would recommend you try a simple “Ben Franklin” close to get you around the “We’ll think it over” stage and on with making the sale. To me this is no more than giving them the courage to actually step off the ledge and make the bungy jump.
6. What steps do I need to take to get it?
Here is the real point about closing. If you have followed the previous five steps and they are still with you, then what you have been doing all the way through the process is ‘trial closing’.
Trial closing is simply checking that they are happy to proceed to the next step. If they have nodded and agreed with you all the way, then they have closed themselves.
All you need to do now is show them how they get what they themselves have decided they want. No pressure from you. No pushy sales techniques. Everyone is happy.
AND they like you!!!