In previous articles we have discussed the process called the "Circle of the Sale". To review, you greet the customer with a warm friendly greeting as you would a friend coming into your home. Should the opportunity present itself for a meaningful non-business conversation you take it. Sometimes the customer will resist conversation or appear to be in a hurry, in this case you move on to the needs assessment phase.
The Needs Assessment is the single most important phase of the selling process. Here you will discover, by asking open-ended questions, what the customer wants and why they want it. You will determine the type of presentation to give, either emotional or technical, uncover any potential add-on items the customer may need and continue building trust through having a meaningful non-business conversation based on the emotional aspect of the purchase, (i.e. a wedding, anniversary, celebration, etc).
Then you move on to the demonstration phase where you use the NA=A/DA theory (needs assessment gives you answers/so demonstrate those answers), selling based on why the customer wants to buy. In the demonstration you use Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions and use the various other demonstration techniques discussed in previous articles.
Let's review the Phases and the Goal of each phase:
Initial Contact Phase
Goals - Eliminate Fear; Create A Person-to-Person Relationship; Begin to Establish Trust
Needs Assessment Phase
Goals - Determine What the Customer Wants; Determine Why They Want It; Discover Potential Add-on items; Continue Building Trust
Goals - Establish Value (Perception); Create Desire of Ownership; Get Customer to Say; "I'll Take It"
Goals - To Close the Sale; Sell Additional Items
If your customer hasn't yet said those magic words "I'll take it", now is the time to take measures to close the sale. What is the definition of "closing"? It seems that the conventional definition of closing is to do anything possible to get the order, even drastic measures, no matter what affect it has on the customer. Many sales trainers put all of the emphasis on the act of closing the sale, with sophisticated closing techniques. My definition is different than the conventional one, in my opinion the step you take to close the sale is to simply ask for the order. Asking for the sale is, or should be, the natural progression of a successful sales presentation.
The PMSA Relationship Selling Program puts the emphasis on the beginning of the selling process leading the customers to close the sale themselves. Through Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions we are actually giving the customer mini-closes throughout the selling process. If the customer is agreeing with the features and benefits we are giving them based on what they told us in the needs assessment, the likelihood of a sale being made is greatly increased.
The art comes in developing the selling process through a great job of preparedness, initial contact, needs assessment, and the demonstration. If they haven't said, "I'll take it" by the time you get to this point of your presentation, then you should just 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, "If you don't ask you don't get." This is a simple but powerful concept. We have all had situations where we really wanted something and yet felt that the chance of having it was slim at best. Then after hours, days, weeks, or months of contemplating the situation, we finally got the nerve up to ask for what we wanted. To our amazement we actually got it. It was all a matter of asking. Thus the only art in closing the sale comes in your ability to ask for the order, every time, without any reservations.
Dr. Seuss wrote one of the finest books on sales I have ever read. It is entitled "Green Eggs and Ham" and was, and may still be, my oldest son's favorite book. He used to have me read this book to him at least a dozen times a day, and he probably asked me to buy him the book in the first place as many times as Sam-I-Am asked the prospect to try the green eggs and ham.
Sam-I-Am asked for the sale well over a dozen times, and was rejected well over a dozen times. But Sam-I-Am was relentless in his pursuit of the sale. While he didn't use any formal techniques for handling objections, he continued to ask, and in the end, he convinced his customer to at least try the green eggs and ham. To the prospect's delight, he actually liked the green eggs and ham, and thus Sam-I-Am closed the sale. The prospect was happy, Sam-I-Am was happy, and the result was another satisfied customer, just based on asking and getting the prospect to try the product.
The moral of the story is that you have to ask for the sale. There is no second place to asking, and if you don't ask, you won't get it! Your job as a sales professionals 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. I will be the first one to admit that the asking process is much easier after a terrific sales presentation, nevertheless, you must ask with every customer every time, without any reservations, limits, or second-guessing.
It is a fact that some people simply have a difficult time making a buying decision. Therefore it is up to us to say, "Do you want to buy it?" in one way or another. It has been documented that in 20% of all sales presentations the customer will say, "I'll take it" without being asked. In another 20% of sales presentations the salesperson will ask, "will you buy it"? Yet in 60% of all sales presentations there is absolutely no attempt made to ask for the sale. What a tremendous waste of time and energy in that 60%! It would be safe to assume that if even one of the prospects that weren't asked to buy was to say "yes" it would be worth the effort to ask for the sale. Imagine the affect that asking for every sale with every customer will have on your Closing Ratio Average. If you were to get just one more customer out of every ten to say yes, just by asking, your CRA would increase dramatically.
The professional jewelry salesperson knows the value of asking. We previously discussed the inner drive that a person needs to be successful in sales. Drive and the intention to make the sale are two very powerful forces in selling. If you intend to make every sale with every customer, then the process of asking for the sale will be much easier. The reason that many salespeople find it difficult to ask for the sale is because they lack confidence in their selling skills. Yet, if you have used the techniques that I have detailed up to this point, you will have earned the right to ask for the sale.
You will have:
You've worked hard! You have now earned the right to ask for the sale. Again, using the "Circle Of The Sale" as salespeople we need to know when is the proper time to close the sale. The proper time to close is anytime during the sales presentation once trust and value have been established. That could happen immediately or it may take some work. As a professional jewelry salesperson we need to recognize buying signs and then close the sale once the customer tells us that he/she is ready to make the purchase.
Your ability to recognize a buying sign is one of the keys to maximizing your closing opportunities. With a buying sign, your customer is telling you, "Hey, if you'd be quiet and listen to me for a minute you'd know I am ready to buy now." In many situations the customer is ready to buy, lets the salesperson know through a buying sign and then gets confused or is talked out of the purchase by the salesperson continuing to sell. The professional will train themselves to listen to any clue or signal that will let them know that the customer is now ready to make that big decision.
Buying signs can be very obvious, very subtle, or in some cases your customers can tell you point-blank that they want to buy. A buying sign can be as obvious as your customer asking, "Do you take checks?" A subtle buying sign could be something as simple as a husband and wife giving each other a nod of the head or a wink of the eye. My broad definition of a buying sign is - Any question that is asked, or statement that is made about the purchase after both trust and value have been established in the customer's mind. It is time to ask for the sale the second that a buying signal has been given. Don't wait until you have given them that final feature and benefit, or told them the entire story as you think it should be given. Ask for the sale now.
It would be very difficult to detail for you every different buying signal or sign that you could receive, as they come in all different forms and at any time. However, some examples are: "Can we get this sized this afternoon?" "This diamond is gorgeous." "What do you think, Honey?" "This ring would look fabulous on her." "These earrings are exactly what we are looking for."
With these words your customer is giving you the clue that now is the time to make your move.
Another point you need to be aware of is that a buying sign could come at any time during the course of your presentation. You could receive a buying sign upon delivering your initial contact line. For example: A customer walks into the store and they say, "My sister got the most incredible necklace here last week." After a statement like this, the best thing to do next is to ask for the sale. "Sister" represents trust and, "the most incredible necklace," represents value. Close the deal by saying, "Would you like one just like it?" Assuming they say "yes," you have made the sale. Then is the time to go back to the other selling phases and worry about the details to complete your job responsibility.
By the way, if you're asking, "What's not complete? I made the sale, why go back to the other selling phases?" The reason is that at this point you still don't know what to add-on. In addition, you haven't developed a person-to-person relationship that will cause your customer to become your personal trade. Remember, it is still your mandate to sell additional items, and it is your goal to develop a relationship that will last into the future. In order to develop repeat customers, personal trade or referrals, and to add-on additional items, you will still need to complete the needs assessment step and ask all the pertinent questions. Don't just take the easy way out by taking the money and running to the cash register. There is still much to be accomplished.
Learn to listen to your customers and to recognize their buying signs and you will become a quota buster. It all seems so simple doesn't it? All you have to do is make contact with your customers as human beings, get them into a conversation, ask them a few questions to determine their needs, demonstrate those needs, and ask for the order. In reality it is probably easier to get a square peg into a round hole. However, with good strategies and techniques in place it can be done. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of preparation and there is no shortcut; you have to do the work in order to make it happen. If you do the work, practice the techniques and strategies to be prepared, it can be done with more success than you have experienced in the past.
Next month's article will detail specific Closing Techniques and in the coming months the process of adding-on as a closing technique will be the focus.
This month we will examine the process of showing and demonstrating merchandise. The demonstration phase is your first opportunity to show your customer the features and benefits of the jewelry. During this phase, you will be presenting the jewelry to the customer using the knowledge you gained in the Needs Assessment step. Remember the formula, NA=A/DA, Needs Assessment equals Answers, and then Demonstrate those Answers.
As you can see from these bad examples it is very easy to fall into the trap of asking closed-ended questions. My experience tells me that this will be one of the most difficult habits for the majority of salespeople to break. You can also see how the customer can lose a little bit of confidence in the salesperson, and how easy these questions are to answer with a yes or no as opposed to divulging valuable information. With each and every closed-ended question it is very easy to change a word or two and turn them into a high quality open-ended question. The proper way to ask the above questions is:
There are specific practical steps, which a salesperson must follow, in order to maximize every selling opportunity. In future articles I will detail more specifically the exact strategies and techniques that a professional jewelry salesperson must introduce into the sales presentation. However, to begin with, I believe salespeople need to know that there are specific issues that must be addressed, and an art and science to the selling process.