Closing the sale the definitive answers some wont like

August 16, 2010
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“ABC: Always Be Closing.”

You may know that line from the infamous sales movie “Glengarry Glen Ross.” It’s a throwback sales training line from the 1960s that manifested itself all the way to the ’80s.

The problem with that line is that some people are still using it.

Whenever I do a seminar, everyone wants to know the fastest way to close the sale, the easiest way to close the sale and the best way to close the sale.

Reality: There is no fast way, there is no easy way and there is no best way.

However, there is a better way than thinking of it as closing the sale. And once you understand what that way is, it will change your approach to the sale for the better, forever: It’s not the “close,” it’s the open.

From the moment you engage prospective customers, they’re beginning to make a judgment. First they judge you, then they judge what they’re buying, and finally they judge what company they’re buying it from. As I’ve said for years, the first sale that’s made is the salesperson.

The secret of selling is four words: perceived value and perceived difference. Two of the four words are the same: perceived.

If your prospective customer perceives no difference between you and the competition, and perceives no value (better stated, a greater value) in what you’re offering, then all that’s left is price — and you will most likely lose the sale. Or if you win the sale, it will be at the expense of your profit.

There are two intangibles that, when combined, create a better chance — a better percentage — of you completing the sale. They are “comfort” and “fit.” How comfortable were you with the prospective customer? How comfortable was the prospective customer with you? And was there a perceived fit? Did what you were selling fit with what the customer needed or wanted to buy?

So I’m going back to my original statement: It’s not the close, it’s the open.

Let me give you a pop quiz that will determine whether or not you were even ready to open.

How is your attitude? How strong is your belief system? Do you have a GREAT attitude? Do you have an impenetrable belief in your company, your products or services, and yourself? Do you also believe that the customer is better off having purchased from you?

How well have you researched both the company and the person you’re meeting with? Preparation for the sale is broken down into three parts: personal preparation, sales preparation and preparation in terms of the prospect — with this critical caveat: preparation in terms of the prospect.

Do you know what their reasons for buying are? Do you know what their motive(s) for buying might be? If you know their reasons and their motives, then by definition you will also know their urgency.

Note well: Your reasons for selling pale in comparison to your customers’ reasons for buying.

When you first spoke on the phone with the prospect, was it a friendly encounter? Were you familiar with them? Were they familiar with you? Did you develop any rapport prior to arriving? Do you have anything in common?

Prior to your face-to-face appointment or your telephone appointment to complete the sale, and in addition to your preparation, you must have a goal for the customer to like you, believe you, have confidence in you and trust you. If those goals are not achieved within the framework of the sales presentation, then the completion of the sale will never become a reality.

Self-test: Rather than a closing question, here are some tough questions that you must ask yourself before, during and after every presentation that you make. These questions, if answered positively in the mind of the prospective customer, will preclude you from ever having to ask a closing question.

In paraphrasing my opening statement: If it doesn’t start right, it won’t end right.

How ready were you?

How friendly were you?

How engaging were you?

How different were you?

How valuable were you?

How compelling were you?

How believable were you?

How credible were you?

How self-confident were you?

How relatable were you?

How trustworthy were you perceived to be?

Closing the sale is not an action. It’s a culmination and a sum total of the elements that make a favorable decision possible. As I’ve written in my “Sales Bible,” the close of a sale is a delicate balance between your words and deeds, and the prospect’s thoughts and perceptions.

And a sale is always made. Either you sell the prospect on yes, or they sell you on no.

You give me a prepared, friendly, engaging, different, valuable, compelling, believable, self-confident, relatable, trustworthy salesperson — and I’ll give you a sale!

Don’t close the sale — rather, complete the sales process and begin the relationship.

It’s not the responsibility of the salesperson to close the sale. It is the responsibility of the salesperson to earn the sale.

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