Closing the Sale: Do Great Closers Have A Closing Instinct?


Do Great Closers Have a Closing Instinct?  Yes!  How Did They Get It?

What must we know even before we meet our prospect that will help us make the close of the sale more natural and comfortable?

Tom Hopkins can probably still hear his mentor, Doug Edwards saying, “All great salespersons have a ‘closing instinct.’”  When asked if these great salespersons were born with these “closing instincts?”  He said, “Of course not!  They got their ‘closing instincts’ by closing too soon and too often rather than closing too seldom and too late!”  (That is an excellent phrase to memorize)  What was his point?  Doug makes two points.  First, if a salesperson only asks for the order once or twice, he does not give himself enough experience to develop a sense (instinct) of what closes work best in what circumstances.  Second, if that salesperson has a tendency to continue talking “well past” the time when the prospect is ready to buy, then he will never give himself the opportunities to learn how much sooner he could have asked for the order.

When a really good salesperson has given his presentation exactly as it should be given, the close should be natural, comfortable and assumptive.  Why wouldn’t the prospect expect us to ask him to buy; once we have given him all of the features, advantages and benefits that would educate and inspire him to own our product/service?  This is NO time to be timid.  As Zig Ziglar, one of the greatest salespersons of all times says, “Timid salespersons have skinny kids!”

What are some of the techniques that help to make the closing process more natural and comfortable?  The first thing to remember is the first thing we remembered … the ABCs!  ABC = Always Be Closing.  The point is that the close should be a part of our plan and process from the moment we approach our prospect.  All of our sales efforts should be building toward asking for the order.  Qualifying, presenting and overcoming objections are all steps toward the close.  From the moment we have qualified and identified a legitimate prospect for our product/service, we should be saying word tracks that are convincing our prospect of the benefits the prospect will gain from our product/service.

We should ask for the order the moment we realize that our prospect has made an “emotional decision” in favor of our product/service.  Even if we think that it may be too soon, we should ask for the order.  The worst possibility is that the prospect says “No” and gives us a reason.  This is good … NOT bad.  We now know where we are in the sales process with this prospect … AND … he has given us a clue as to his thinking.  If he says “Yes,” we get our order and then take some additional time to “Post Close” him with some additional information about our product/service and some additional benefits that we perhaps had not gotten to quite yet.

“Trial closes” are a special type of close that are used primarily to find out where we are with a prospect in our sales process.  “Trial closes” should be very well worded and practiced.  We should pre-identify at what point in our sales process a “trial close” should be attempted.  We should practice our response to a “trial close.”  The prospect’s answer may lead us to a “final close” or may simply let us know that the prospect is not quite ready to buy.  Some examples of a “trial close” could be:

“Mr. Prospect, if you could get this watch in a model that will give you the time in 24 different cities around the world.  Would you prefer that I wrap up that model for you?”

“Mrs. Prospect, you can order this total home thermostat system with the ability to be pre-set so it will warm or cool your home at differing times while you are out for a day or a month.  If you decide to buy our services, would you prefer that system or would you want us to simply install the standard system?”

One of the wonderful sales techniques that has been making money for Professional Salespersons for decades is the “If we could would you …” close.  The dialog would go something like the following.  Prospect asks: “Could we get this delivered within a week?” We reply, “Mr. Prospect, if we could have this delivered, installed, tested and working in your home within the next 5 days, would you like me to schedule that for you?” Depending on when that question is asked by the prospect that would be either a “trial close” or perhaps a “final close.”

There are material issues that can make the close more natural and comfortable.  If we have some type of agreement that needs to be filled out, we should have as much pre-filled out as possible before we come to the time for the prospect to approve it.  Once the prospect has decided to buy, we do not want to be taking a lot of time to do paperwork.  This can become a little unnerving for the prospect.  And remember, until we have his signature AND his money, we have NO sale.

We should have a “fine quality writing instrument” for our prospect to use in approving our agreement.  A ballpoint pen that we accidentally took from a local restaurant is NOT what we want to hand someone who is expected to give us his money.  An investment in a nice quality pen (black ink preferably) will pay for itself in no time.

Where we sit or stand in relation to the prospect can help in the close.  It is NOT a good idea to have a desk or counter between us and the prospect, if at all possible.  Sitting or standing alongside the prospect gives the prospect a sense that we are “on his side” versus “opposing him.”

Obviously how we look to the prospect is of importance from the moment he sees us and through the entire sales process.  However, it is at the close when our appearance has its final impact on the sale.  The prospect is asking himself, “Can I trust what this person has been telling me and can I trust that he will continue to be of service once he has my money?”  Great salespersons have learned a few things about dressing correctly.  One opinion was expressed by J. Douglas Edwards many years ago.  Doug said, “A professional salesperson should dress exactly like the persons his prospect goes to for significant advice.”  So what Doug was saying was that since our prospect probably trusts his banker, lawyer, or accountant; imagine how they would be dressed and dress accordingly.  When our prospect first sees us dressed like a person he trusts, he has a tendency to transfer that sense of trust to us.

Another point of view is that we should dress just slightly better than our prospect might be dressed when we are with them.  An example would be that, if we are selling vacuum cleaners in a home, we would not need to be dressed as formally as if we were selling a state-of-the-art piece of hospital equipment to the Senior Buying Officer of the hospital.  Always remember that in addition to observing how we dress, our prospect will observe our grooming (hair, fingernails, make-up, etc.) as well as three other items.  He will observe our shoes (worn or unpolished loses sales for us), our watch (Mickey Mouse does not give as much confidence as Bulova) and our pen (Bic does not help us sell as well as Parker).

So being prepared in our appearance, in our word tracks and in our attitude should give us the confidence to ask for the order “too soon and too often rather than too seldom and too late.”  That way we too can acquire the closing instincts of the Professional Salesperson.

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