Columnists Brad Huisken Closing Techniques

Closing Techniques

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In my last column we reviewed the process of the "Circle of The Sale": selling jewelry based on the reason the customer wants to buy and focusing the presentation on specifically what is important to the customer. If the customer is buying to satisfy an emotional need, then focus on the emotional reason during your sales presentation. If the customer is buying due to the technical aspects of the jewelry, give them a technically based demonstration. When the customer is uncertain or doesn't know what is important in selecting jewelry, then is the time to give the customer help and your expertise.
Remember, don't confuse the customer, but give him/her enough information to complete the sale.

I cannot stress enough how important the NA=A/DA theory is to your success as a salesperson. Needs assessment gets you answers, so demonstrate the answers. Then throughout the demonstration phase describe and show the merchandise to the customer using Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions (FBA's). Again, the agreement question works as a completion of the communication cycle and as a mini-close. The success you will have in customizing your presentation to the specific wants and needs of the customer will greatly enhance the success that is achieved when it comes time to close the sale.

If your customer hasn't yet said those magic words, "I'll take it," it is now time to take drastic measures and Close the Sale. My definition of "Closing" is different than the conventional one. In my opinion, closing the sale is simply asking for the order. Closing can and should be a natural progression of the selling process. A professional salesperson doesn't need to be pushy and aggressive, but highly effective through structuring a presentation tailored to the individual customer. It seems that the conventional definition of Closing is to do anything possible to get the order, no matter what effect it has on the customer. Again, asking for the sale is, or should be, the natural progression of a successful sales presentation.

Developing a tailor-made sales presentation through a great job of preparedness, initial contact, needs assessment, and the demonstration geared specifically to the customer will increase your closing ratio substantially and you will have more customers saying, "I'll take it" than you ever dreamed possible. However, if they haven't said, "I'll take it" by the time you have gotten to this point of your presentation, then you should just need to nudge the customer by asking for the sale. The goal of closing the sale, then, is to make the sale, and (if appropriate) to add-on through the way you ask for the sale.

Asking for the Sale
We have all heard the saying a thousand times, "Ask and you shall receive." A sales professional's job and responsibility is to ask for the sale no matter what type of sales presentation you have given, or how great or terrible a job you think you have done in the selling process. In far too many sales situations the following holds true:
  • 20% - The salesperson attempts to close the sale
  • 20% - Client says, "I'll take it"
  • 60% - No attempt is made to close the sale
I believe that the reason that many salespeople don't ask for the sale comes from a fear of rejection or that they don't feel that they have earned the right to ask the customer to purchase the jewelry. Let me assure you that if you have followed the sales process as described, you have earned the right to ask the customer to buy. As far as fear of rejection, that is unfortunately the nature of the beast in sales, you will face rejection. I have never seen a salesperson that can close one hundred percent of the customers one hundred percent of the time. Get over the fear of rejection; turn the customer over (a topic for a future article) and move on. Yes, you should analyze your sales presentation in order to improve your skills. Look at every customer that doesn't buy from you as a learning opportunity for the next customer. Remember, you have worked hard. Go for the close! You have earned the right to ask for the sale.

More Closing Techniques
All closing techniques have a specific goal in mind; that is to have the customer say "yes." At this point you are asking for the sale or the order. There is no underhanded deception involved - closing techniques are simply different methods of asking questions in order to complete the sale. Whether it is straightforward and direct, or subtle and reserved, the point is you have to ask for the order.

The absolute right time to close is immediately after both trust and value have been established. The magic moment that trust and value have been established can come at any time during the selling process. Review again my last article on "buying signs". Immediately after you have delivered several Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions (based on the needs assessment) or the instant that you hear a buying sign you should ask a closing question. The following seven are examples of closing questions.

The Reflexive Close
The Reflexive Close, simply stated, is a reflex response givenby the salesperson to a question asked by the prospect. This is also one of the most frequently missed closes in all of selling. The customer is asking for an answer to a question. You should respond with an answer that may close the sale. Keep in mind; this technique will sound very pushy and aggressive if both trust and value haven't been established. In addition make sure that you answer the customer's question first, and then reflect it back as a close. It works like a charm after you have established trust and value. A key here again is listening to your prospect.

For example: A customer says, "Can we get this ring sized by Friday?" This is a buying sign! The salesperson should answer the question and then reflect the question back as a close. For example: "I am sure we can have it sized for you by Friday. What time on Friday would you like to pick it up?" Without the closing question you haven't asked for the sale, you have simply answered the customer's question. Don't leave the customer hanging, close the deal.

The Win/Win Close
The Win/Win Close is a technique that has also been named the Alternate Choice Close or the Either or Close. The technique is that you give your customer two choices, both of which result in a completed sale. If you ask a question with only one choice, it is much easier for your prospect to give you a yes or no answer. We already know that if "no" is an option, then it probably isn't the best type of question to ask.

A couple examples of the Win/Win Close are: "Would you like me to gift wrap this for you or would you like to wrap it yourself?" "Would you like to pay for this with cash, check or credit card?"

The Ask-For-It Close
The Ask-For-It Close is relatively self-explanatory. It is a technique where you simply ask for the order. It can be worded in a variety of ways, but the method is very straightforward. For example: "What do you think?" "Let's write it up?" "I know this will be perfect. Let's do it?"

The Order-Form Close
The Order-Form Close is a close that will take a high degree of confidence on your behalf. Be careful, this close can be perceived as very pushy and aggressive if you use it at the wrong time and with the wrong type of customer. The technique is to simply pull out an order form or a financing contract and start writing up the order. They may stop you and ask, "What are you doing?" Your reply "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm writing up your order." The key to this technique is to involve them in the process of writing up the order. The method you use is up to you, but the easiest way is to start with the first line of the order form or contract and ask them a question that will help you start filling in the form.

Most forms start with your prospect's name and address. You can say, "OK, well give me the exact spelling of your name including your middle initial." Their reaction may just be to help you fill out the order. But you will never know if you don't try. In using the order-form close, once they start giving you simple information like their name, address, phone, etc. the sale is done. Again, it is now a matter of working out the minor details.

The Benefit-Review Close
The Benefit-Review Close is one where you summarize the information you learned and used in the NA=A/DA strategy. Reviewing the information already given, followed by a closing question. This is a great close for many selling situations. It may even be the appropriate close for a prospect from whom you haven't been getting very good indicators in the demonstration process. We all know the type of people to which I am referring. You give an enthusiastic, no-holds-barred demo, and all you get back is, "Eh!" There is no excitement or enthusiasm. One of the only things you can then do is to review what they told you in the needs assessment and what you gave them in the demonstration, reworded as a closing question.

For example: "Based on everything that we have discussed, I know that she will love the versatility of the two-tone band, and the durability of the sapphire crystal, not to mention the beauty of the watch itself. She is going to absolutely love this watch. Let's write it up for her?"

The Reduce-to-the-Ridiculous Close
The Reduce-to-the-Ridiculous Close is an old close that has been used forever, and talked about by everyone. The reason that it has lasted so long is that it works extremely well when selling high-priced products and services. While the cost of your products or services may be very high as a total amount, dividing this total over any number of factors, i.e. months, years, units, or locations, makes the expense more affordable. While the customer certainly must find value in the jewelry, it also has to be at a price and/or payment schedule that is reasonable and affordable based on the customer's perception of value. The reduce-to-the-ridiculous close will accomplish that goal.

For example; "I realize that the ring is $___. However when you think about the number of compliments that she will receive, the years of enjoyment that she will have and that this ring will be passed down to generations to come, it is really a small price to pay. Let's treat her to the kind of fine jewelry that she won't want to ever take off?" Another example would be, "I realize the price of the piece is $___ however with our interest free financing you can tailor make a payment plan that is comfortable for you and gives her the piece of jewelry of her dreams. Let's write it up?"

The Penalty Close
The Penalty Close is one that has been used by almost every experienced salesperson at one time or the other. The penalty close is a means of letting your prospect know that if they don't buy now there will be some type of penalty to making the purchase at a later date or that the product or service may not be available to them again. Let me caution you, only use the penalty close when the penalty is absolutely true. No lying or being deceptive. Should the penalty be true then this close can and will be very effective. Should the penalty not be true, then eventually it will come back to haunt you.

For example: "This is a specially made, customized piece of jewelry. There is not another like it anywhere. As a matter of fact, our in-house jeweler won an award for this particular piece. Let me write it up for you?" "Unfortunately, we can only honor the sale price during this special promotion. You really should take advantage of the tremendous savings. Let me write it up for you?"

Close and Wait
A strategy that has been talked about forever is the philosophy of "he who speaks first loses." While I don't believe that anyone loses from a completed sales presentation, I do believe in the concept and in the strategy. Once you deliver the closing question, be quiet! Let the customer have a moment or two to think about their decision. Granted the moment or two may seem like an eternity, but in reality it is usually only a minute or two. However, the minute that you start to talk again, without letting the customer have the time that they need, is when you will be rejected. Again, deliver your closing questions and then wait for the customer's answer. Don't assume anything, you never know what the customer is going to say or what question the customer may ask. You can deal with the issue when you know what the issue is and what was said. If you panic, jump to conclusions and don't wait for the answer you may talk the customer out of the purchase. Further, you never know, the customer might just say "OK." As a matter of fact, more often than you dreamed possible using the strategies and techniques we have discussed over this series of articles, you will be successful in closing sales and being a professional, productive salesperson.

There are many other closes, far too many techniques to mention. Go to the business section of your local bookstore. There you will see row after row and title after title detailing hundreds if not thousands of closing techniques. I can't remember what I did yesterday much less a thousand closing techniques. Further, many of the other techniques are simply various degrees of the preceding closing techniques I have detailed. Then there are other closing techniques I perceive as being extremely pushy and aggressive and I don't recommend their use. I have reduced those thousands of techniques down to seven simple techniques that should serve you very well in a retail environment.

Next month we will discuss adding on additional merchandise as a function of closing the sale. Remember add-ons are profit. It is a salesperson's responsibility to sell additional goods and adding-on is a means of providing your customer with the extraordinary customer service that they deserve.



Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the books "I'M a salesman! Not a PhD." and "Munchies For Salespeople, Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into," he developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Employee Handbook and Policy & Procedures Manual, The Weekly Sales Training Meeting series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers, along with the new Weekly Jewelry Sales Training Series. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight." For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , www.iastraining.com or fax 303-936-9581.
 
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