Phew! The fabled 91 days of January have officially come to a close. And closing is what I’d like to talk about today. In sales, closing is used to mean the achievement of the desired outcome, which may be an exchange of money or getting a signature.
An effective close is the result of a process; it doesn’t happen by solely focusing on it without building the momentum to it.
For instance, the hawker who thrusts a pen in the face of the trendily dressed lady stating, “Here. Twenty shillings”, is focusing on the close. On the other hand, his counterpart who states sincerely that, “This pen complements your dress”, is focusing on the process. Which one do you suppose stands a greater chance at closing? The former has played all his cards in one move; and it’s really one card-price.
And price is a one way street; it’s objective and inanimate. It is also too late to take a side road, back street or detour into extolling the subjective and emotion-filled virtues of the pen without looking insincere; he is therefore left with only one gambit-bargaining. And that’s assuming the buyer needed a pen in the first place.
By contrast, in the latter case, the hawker opens a maze of opportunity. Enthralled by the sincere compliment, the lady will most likely give him her full attention even if for a moment.
Never mind that she most likely wasn’t even interested in a pen in the first place; or that she doesn’t know the price. The compliment opens up avenues of sales possibilities and lays a foundation for a close.
For instance, noticing how smitten she may be by the compliment, and without even mentioning the price, the hawker could confidently ask; “Would you like two or three of them?”
Laying the foundation for an effective close ensures that when the close does happen, the buyer will feel good about it; she will feel better off, not deprived. As a client once told me; “We wanted to buy a system that would help us automate our staff record keeping. We had even identified the software we wanted and the company that sold it.
To our astonishment, the salesperson we asked it from, first sought to understand why we wanted it. After a complete prognosis, he told us that given our size of firm, we didn’t need to buy any system; that a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet could do what we wanted, for free- and he was willing to show us how. I did a double-take. This salesperson was effectively refusing a sale. That was six years ago.
Today we buy all our software from him. He earned our trust with that first encounter.” Now imagine, if the salesperson had focused on the close (as opposed to the process) with that first sale. He would have closed, yes; but with that close lost future business.