Old methods of closing the sale aren't very effective today

If I were to ask experienced salespeople, "What's your biggest problem in selling?" more than 70 percent of them would say, "Closing the sale."

However, in my opinion, that's not really the problem.

Sure, they're unsuccessful in getting the order so they weren't able to close the sale. However, most times that's not the problem. It's only the moment of truth.

One of the major reasons salespeople have a problem in closing the sale is that many, if not most, are still trying to use the old methods of closing that don't work. They may sound good but, in reality, they're ineffective.

The old ways, like the alternate choice close, "Do you want it in red or black?," and the impending event close, "You'd better get your order in now because the price is going up on the first of the month," backfire more often than they work.

When asking prospects to buy, you'd be better off saying, "Will you buy it?" than using one of these worn-out closes.

If prospects decide early in the selling process that they don't like you, don't trust you or have absolutely no need or interest in the product or service you're selling, you're not going to make the sale. It really has nothing to do with closing.

Have you ever listened to a salesperson's presentation and had absolutely no interest or intention of buying his or her product or service? Sure you have. We all have.

If the prospect decides early on she doesn't like you, doesn't trust you, isn't comfortable that you know what you're talking about, etc., this will color her impression of you and you won't be able to close the sale.

Research shows that your prospect will make that decision either consciously or unconsciously in the first few seconds of the interview.

Many times, out of common courtesy, prospects will listen to your presentation even though they have absolutely no intent to buy.

When you ask for the sale, they're certainly not going to say, "The reason I'm not buying from you is because I don't like you." They're going to say something like, "Your price is too high," "I want to shop around," or "I'm happy with my current supplier."

Today we don't do business with people we don't like and trust unless we have to.

Most people don't have to do business with me and they probably don't have to do business with you. Don't get me wrong; the prospect doesn't have to like you to buy from you but they must like you before you can sell them anything. Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, once said, "I don't think I ever sold anyone anything that didn't like me."

After you've completed the "fill the need" step with the "feature-benefit-reaction" technique, where you asked for and answered questions, summarized the features and quoted the price, it's time to use the closing statement: "If we can schedule installation of the software and training of your personnel before the end of the month, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't set it up?"

Prospects can give one of two answers. If they say, "No," they have just bought and that's a very interesting way, psychologically, for a person to buy from you, by telling you, "No."

You are not saying, "If our product or service will take care of your needs ..."

You already did that in the "fill the need" step. The psychology of the closing statement is "If we'll do business with you, will you do business with us?" That's why we call it the "partnership agreement."

Many times salespeople have no idea how one word can destroy a sales presentation.

The word "if" is very important. Changing the word "shouldn't" to "should not" changes the impact of the statement. The word "think" is crucial to the closing statement.

Many times salespeople, wanting the person to visualize what they're saying, will substitute the word "see" for "think," which totally changes the question.

Use the closing question exactly as it is worded. Don't try to fix success.

So, the closing question should be stated exactly like this:
"If we (summary of action to be taken) can you think of any reason why we shouldn't (summary of desired act of commitment)?"

Other examples are: "If we can schedule delivery by the 15th, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't go ahead?"

"If we can schedule the training of your technical people next week, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't order the equipment?"

This closing statement is also effective when your goal is not to make the sale but rather to get an act of commitment for the next step that will lead to a sale at a later date.

"If we can schedule a meeting with your technical people within the next week, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't set it up?"

"If we can get funding approval, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't plan the next step?"

These closing questions are short, simple, nonthreatening and a very comfortable way for the salesperson to ask for the sale or get an "act of commitment" for the next step.

Keep in mind that you're attempting to get the prospect to make the decision to buy for his or her reasons, not your reasons.

If it's not the right thing for the prospect, then you have no right to ask for the sale.

If it is the right thing for the prospect then, as a professional salesperson, you have a responsibility to ask for the sale.

As we stated earlier, when you use the closing statement, the prospects can say "yes" or "no."

When they say "no" they have just bought or they can say "yes" and give you an objection.

This is another area where we are completely different in our approach to dealing with objections.

Everything I've heard in dealing with objections is wrong, in my opinion.

Typically a salesperson is taught how to outsmart the prospect. He or she ends up winning the argument but losing the sale.

There is a better way of dealing with objections, which I'll share with you soon.



Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.