A common phrase used in sales textbooks and courses is “Closing sales”. As a successful sales person and trainer, with over 25 years’ experience, many people have asked me for the secret to closing sales.
Too often when sales people meet a prospect they jump into sales mode; rushing to promote themselves, their company and its products/services. Then when they try to close the sale, they are surprised that the prospect walks away because they thought they did such a good job selling.
A little known secret to closing sales … is that you can’t close the sale unless you have first “opened the sale”.
Opening the sale is all about having a long term perspective with your customers. You do this by showing a genuine interest in them and continually building rapport. Only then will you understand their needs and be able to recommend a solution to match. This can become a major part of any successful marketing and promotion campaign.
So how do you “open the sale”? There are three steps:
1. Establish rapport
In sales, the basics of showing respect for the other person go a long way to building rapport; showing genuine interest, using appropriate eye contact, being on time, returning calls, doing what you promised etc.
Zig Ziglar, a highly regarded international sales trainer, says “if people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they will want to do business with you.” So the first step in opening the sale is to make sure your customers like you and then gain their trust so they will want to buy from you. Then you will be able to ‘feel good’ about closing sales and be able to reflect this positive result in the marketing and promotion of your business.
2. Assist the customer to define their need
You can’t sell the benefits if you don’t understand the customer’s needs.
By using well designed and delivered questions, you can help the customer uncover their needs and wants including revealing unrecognised problems or opportunities which should also be part of the buying decision.
Examples of questions which start the process of defining customer’s needs are: What do you know about our (type of) product or service? Have you used it before? How did you find it?
If the salesperson does not help the customers clearly define their needs, they often present as objections when the salesperson prematurely tries to close the sales.
3. Match a solution to their needs
Having asked well designed questions and listened attentively to the customer’s answers, you are now in a position to find a solution to match your customer’s needs and move towards closing the sale. Of course this assumes that you are already highly knowledgeable in what your organisation’s products/services can offer.
The question you need to answer for the customer is “What will this product/service do for me?” Focus on the benefits your product/service will provide the customer.
If you have opened the sale successfully, the customer will give you buying signals. They may ask about stock availability, options available, payment terms, delivery etc… Be careful to watch for, listen to and be ready to act on these signals so that you can be successful at closing sales.
When you take a long term perspective with your customers and focus on adding value to the relationship; focusing on opening sales rather than closing sales will lead to customer loyalty and possibly even referral business too.
Sales Performance Consultant and Trainer