Guest Blog Posting: Close More Sales9 Apr, 2013 By: Tom Callinan, Strategy Development
I get asked all the time, “Can you help my team close more sales.” When I then ask the person to tell me what they are looking for the emphasis is always on closing as an event. This belief would lead the average business owner to believe there exists a superstar closer; you simply “wheel them in” when it’s time to close the sale and you are guaranteed to be booking revenue. I even reviewed a document from an industry sales trainer today that assigned points to the daily events performed by sales professionals: Right at the top of the point earning events, 15 points for a “closing appointment,” tied for the most points with a “proposal review/demonstration appointment.” I marvel at how somebody was able to scan that document off of the cave wall.
The other thing I hear all the time is that that people buy from people they like. Whether or not you agree with either of these beliefs, let’s take a look at a “superstar closer” and how that affects your relationship.
A couple of year ago my wife decided to replace all of the windows in our house. I learned a long time ago not to question what my wife does around the house—I consider it her domain—so don’t ask me why we were buying new windows, but we were. She called one of the well known brand’s “replacement division” and the inside sales person who took her call set the appointment with the insistence that “both the husband and wife be present.” I told my wife to inform them that she made all the decisions around the house but they weren’t coming out if I wasn’t there. I already knew how this was going to play out but I needed to fall back on my primary guiding principle, “Happy wife happy life,” and I agreed to meet the sales person.
The sales person was on time, so he started out on a positive note, and went right into his litany of unique features to his windows, with some advantages we would receive by installing them. Keep in mind that we called his company so we had already made a commitment to replace our windows. I’d also mention we were predisposed to buy the product he was selling since they had a stellar reputation, and his company was “the replacement division” for that product. But he was the first person we spoke to and we were going to spend over $30,000 so we wanted to speak to at least one other company, possibly two.
After numerous vain attempts to get us to sign—promotions only available on this visit, etc.—he told us that if we didn’t buy now that he would not be allowed to come back. In other words we could not get the windows we wanted because it was now or never. Keep in mind that this brand is available at Home Depot, simply not the “replacement models” this person was selling. To take it a step further he could not leave without calling his manager.
If this company didn’t insist on my participation in this meeting my wife could have bought the windows and I wouldn’t even know until somebody appeared to do the work, or if I was traveling until I came home and noticed we had new windows. Based on their insistence that I attended the presentation and the “now or never” close, I guess they must have shared a cave with the person who developed the aforementioned point system. But now I was glad they insisted that I attend because I made up my mind that there was zero chance of this guy getting money from my family—zero. Even if my wife wanted to buy the windows from him I’d lobby so hard she’d move onto her second choice.
I don’t want to minimize this guy’s efforts as he did a great job of articulating the features and benefits of his product and he consistently tried to close us. When I pointed out that I could buy the brand at other locations he pointed out the differences between the replacement models and the models they sold at Home Depot. Forget the fact that this top of the line manufacturer wasn’t producing an inferior product; he never asked what was important to us. He was totally focused on the features and advantages of his product and on “closing” the sale.
Have any of you been through a similar experience? Even if you agreed to buy what did you think of the salesperson—did you consider it the beginning of a great relationship? So what did the hard closer accomplish? He practiced a lot of closes on me, they didn’t work, and he lost all credibility by pushing too far and focusing on features and advantages; I would never do business with him again. Let’s say he had some unbelievable price so I did buy at that meeting: There would be no chance I’d ever want to see him again.
How do you actually close more sales? That’s easy; uncovering a solid business case by asking great questions, listening attentively, and focusing on moving the sale forward with every meeting. The best closers are those that spend their time to uncover specific issues their product or service will alleviate, and understands the precise value of addressing those issues before they ever move to their proof source. After you’ve uncovered a quantifiable business case and you’ve proven that your product or service can address that business case closing will be as easy as “It seems like it make sense to move forward with the (your product or service) acquisition/installation, doesn’t it?”
So can I help you close more business: Absolutely. But in order to help you accomplish your goal we need to look at your sales methodology. The “close” is simply the final event of playing a great game.
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