By Kathy Sisk
An effective close is the natural conclusion to all the previous steps. Whether you do close, however, will depend on how successfully the preceding steps were performed. You should have confidence in your close, provided you received “yes” responses in getting reaction during Step 8 and in the trial close in Step 9.
By avoiding tricky, slick, or fast-talking techniques, the close should simply come down to asking prospects to buy or to make a commitment to see you. (Research reveals that the majority of sales calls end without ever asking the prospect to say yes!). Learning when to close is very important. The right time to ask is when you think prospects will say yes! You will know when a prospect is ready to say yes by asking one of the trial-closing questions found in Step 9. For example, “Does that sound fair enough?” or “Would that be all right with you?” (Remember to use the assumptive approach in your trial closing question.)
The twelve steps have guided you through your presentation while increasing your ability to effectively close. Once you have created the need for your products or services by using the probing questions in Step 5, the balance of your presentation will be pretty much on automatic pilot. However, don’t be overzealous. You still need to fulfill your prospect’s needs in your selling step, gain your prospect’s reactions in Step 8, and then trial-close your prospect in Step 9. Although these steps don’t require as much thought as the probing step, you still need to incorporate them precisely as instructed into your presentation. All the steps work uniquely together, so bypassing one or more of the steps will hinder you from executing a smooth close.
Four Action Guides: Here are four action guides to a successful close:
- Get opinions and elicit a positive response during Step 8:
“How valuable would that be for you?”
- Summarize the benefits and give a positive reinforcement; ask a trial-closing question to get a “yes” or “no” response:
“Would that be all right with you?”
“Does that sound fair enough?”
- If you receive a negative response in your trial close, narrow down the real issues and outweigh them with benefits that will overcome any issues your prospect may have; be sure to get a positive response before closing (see dealing with objections in Step 10).
- Reinforce your prospect’s commitment in this step – the close; then pause and wait patiently for a reply.
Whenever you are unable to close effectively, it means you did not complete a prior step – something went wrong in your presentation. Be sure that you have done the following in the order listed below:
- Establish rapport (Steps 1 to 4). Earn the right to conduct your presentation.
- Probe (Step 5). Create the need for what you are offering.
- Restate (Step 6). Reinforce your prospect’s needs.
- Sell (Step 7). Fulfill your prospect’s needs through discussion of features, functions, and benefits.
- Get reaction (Step 8). Encourage a positive response.
- Trial-close (Step 9). Summarize and ask for a positive commitment.
- Handle objections (Step 10). Negotiate and outweigh your prospect’s resistance and aim to get a positive response. (If the first nine steps were done correctly, you won’t need this one, but we’ll cover it in a future issue in case you need it.)
- Close (Step 11). Assume your position.
- Do your post close (Step 12). Finalize the order or appointment.
The following are points to remember:
- A trial-closing question asks for a commitment; the close reinforces that decision.
- You should begin asking a trial-closing question after you summarize the features and benefits.
- Ask a closing question only after you receive two or more positive answers during restating in Step 6, getting reaction in Step 8, or trial-closing in Step 9.
- Help prospects make decisions by pointing out how the benefits outweigh the costs. This occurs during the first function in your trial close, when you summarize the benefits.
- When you close, expect prospects to say yes! Anticipate a positive response. Use proper voice inflection to create increased confidence in your projection. Assume your close will be positive.
- When you ask prospects to commit, be quiet until they respond.
Once you have accomplished these action guides successfully, use one of the following closes that best fits your closing objectives.
Three Popular Closes: As you have discovered, it is the right time to close by the time your reach Step 11. You probably have heard that there are over a hundred ways to close. In reality there are only three closing techniques to remember. There may be many different ways to express it, which is a choice you can make on your own. The important issue is to close!
The examples below offer ideas for you to be creative with your own style of close. Choose a close that not only feels comfortable to you but also correlates with whom you are prospecting. For example, you would not want to use the direct close with someone who is an easy-going prospect; the direct close would be more useful with strong personality types.
The Assumptive Close: Ask for a decision, assuming your prospect will make an affirmative, major buying commitment. For example:
“In addition to the benefits that we’ve discussed, is there anything else we need to consider before we schedule delivery?”
“In addition to the benefits that we’ve discussed, is there anything else we need to consider prior to our meeting?
The Contained-Choice Close: Ask your prospect to select one or two proposed delivery or appointment dates:
“What about a delivery on the first, or would the fifteenth be better for you?”
“I can schedule an appointment for you on Tuesday, or would Thursday be better?”
“What time of the day is better for you and Mr./s. Green – the morning, afternoon, or evening?”
Direct Close: Simply ask prospect to take the appropriate closing action. You do not ask prospects to buy, but you specifically ask them to take a closing action. For example:
“Who, other than yourself, do we need to okay the agreement?”
“I need a requisition from you so I can get a purchase order.”
“How would you like to process this?”
“A letter of agreement would expedite your order today!”
“I would like to schedule delivery for you. Would Friday meet your needs?”
Be creative! Combine your closes. A combined close, for instance, could be an assumptive close and a direct and contained-choice close. An example of an assumptive and contained-choice close might be:
“I’m going to process your order today. How would you like the product delivered, COD or credit?”
A direct and contained choice might be:
“Who, other than yourself, do we need to consider when scheduling our appointment?”
“Would you prefer mornings or afternoons?”
Kathy Sisk is CEO of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc.
[From Connection Magazine – October 2012]