The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Finance Center, in collaboration with the...
There are four pillars to closing in our industry. Many
salespeople leave out one or two and that greatly hampers their ability to get
as many sales as they deserve. This article will discuss all four in an effort
to remind new recruits and veterans of closing techniques that work.
The first pillar and the largest by far is the pillar of the
trial close or preliminary close. What is this? It is soft, easy questions that
the customer can say "Yes" too before he is ready to actually buy.
Think of it as a way of taking his temperature. The more trial closes you get a
"Yes" to, the closer you are to the sale. Start trial closing as soon
as you meet the prospect. You can ask questions such as, "Is good tasting
water important to you?" Who would not answer that one in the affirmative?
However, the act of saying "Yes" gets him used to saying it and moves
you closer to the sale. Later in the demonstration, you move to trial closes
like, "Is that the way you would like your skin to feel?" and
"Is that the kind of clean you want for your family?" I recommend
asking between 60 and 100 trial closes during the course of the demonstration.
Trial closes not only help move your customer toward the
sale, they perform several other important functions.
allow your customer to participate in the demo. This may seem like a small
point, but if your demo is a one-way conversation or lecture, they will not
react as positively as if it is a two way with them listening and answering
questions. If they see the pattern and know you will be asking questions, they
can't snooze as you speak.
closes allow them to say "No" without it being the end of the sale.
If you ask a question such as, "Do you see how that would benefit your
family?" and they say, "No" it doesn't mean you have to pack up
and leave, it sets you up to explain and help them agree. Weak salespeople
gamble the entire sale on one big question, "So, did you want to get
it?" Strong salespeople build a base of hundreds of questions from very
soft and leading to the more make-it-or-break-it type.
Once you have a firm base of "Yesses" that
continues to grow as you move through the warm up and begin the demo, you are
on your way.
The next pillar in closing is the demo close. You should
have a specific way of closing planned that you automatically go into when you reach
the end of the demo. As many readers already may know, I recommend a strong
assumption close. For example, you bring the flasks back to the table, hold
them up and ask, "If it didn't cost you a penny more, which of these
waters would you want to have in your home?" They always point to the soft
water. You simply say, "Great, I'll get the paperwork started," and
then pick up a pen to write the order.
I have noticed over the years that salespeople who have an
end-of-demo close planned, practiced and rehearsed are much stronger closers
than those who arrive without a plan or a clue.
The third pillar is the product info close. I train my
clients' salespeople to hold off on presenting product features until the end
of the sale. I know this is controversial and many salespeople cannot wait to
tell the customer everything they know about the product. The theory behind my
method--which is backed by 30 years of success--is that many consumers do not
understand, need to know or want to know technical details. I am one of those
consumers. If you start talking about the shape of your resin or size of your
manifold, it is a one-way ticket to snoozeville for me and for many others. So,
I suggest you do not take 10 minutes up front to amaze prospects with the
arcane knowledge you have of the secrets of softeners in the beginning. Many
customers prefer to purchase based on the benefits such as cleaner clothes and
softer skin. If you have built a base of trial closes and tried the demo close
but they still have not committed to the purchase, it is time for the product
You simply state that you know they will be happy with your
product because....Then, you can explain the features and benefits that you
know will be most important to them from your earlier questions.
Don't forget the benefits. For example, many salespeople say
things such as, "We are a family owned business." Well, how nice for
your family. What's in it for the customer? That's all they care about. Maybe a
family owned company cares more about reputation. Maybe the family employees
are better trained or better supervised. Maybe you give the client your home
phone number for emergencies. Whatever the benefit, make sure that every time
you state a product feature you also state a benefit and end with a trial close
such as "Do you see how that would be of benefit to you?" If they say
"Yes," get your pen and start writing.
So far, you have used three of the four pillars. The last
pillar is an inducement close. It is used last when the demo close and product
info close have failed to get a signature. Instead of leaving, go for an
inducement. It could be a special finance rate if they go ahead now, free
installation, a "full half ton of salt," a discount or the most
powerful inducement of all: a soap package.
Whatever inducement you use, it only will work well if you
have saved it until the end and you have practiced a smooth and believable
delivery. The inducement will push a number of clients over the edge. They want
to buy, but they need a reason to justify action. The inducement close has been
used since the beginning of selling. It works today just as it has since the
first time it was used because it is deeply etched in human nature. Don't shy
away from it and feel you are above it. You buy because of inducements--we all
do--so use it to help your clients make the right choice.
One of the benefits of looking at the sale as four pillars
is that it will encourage you to close at least three different ways and more attempts
mean more sales. Take a look at the demos you are doing and see if you
incorporate all four pillars. If you aren't, give it a try and I know it will
help you close more and close consistently.