Small Business Advice
How to "Close" the Sale
Q: I have several sales associates who can create excellent proposals but, for some reason, can’t bring themselves to ask for the sale. What do you suggest?
A: Fear of rejection is the primary reason some are reluctant to ask for the sale. After delivering a compelling sales presentation they pause and wait for the customer’s response, fearing if they ask for the sale the answer will be no. Well, to be blunt, “if you don’t ask, you won’t get.”
That said, let me give you some tips you may be able to take to the bank:
- Prepare in advance – Prior to meeting with your prospect, research their operation. What are the products or services they provide and how does what you have to offer compliment their sales strategy?
- Talk with the decision maker – If the individual you are meeting with does not have the authority to give you the order, you are talking with the wrong person.
- Personalize the relationship – You want the prospect to feel at ease with you. Forget high-pressure tactics. If you see a golf trophy on the wall, let them know you play too and ask where they play.
- Use humor – Humor can make people feel good. Everyone loves a good story. You will close more deals if you can get your client to lighten up and laugh.
- Study their body language – Maintain eye contact with your prospect. Are they sitting up straight or slouching in their chair. If they avoid eye contact or slouch, they are not receiving your message.
- Communicate clearly – You must come prepared and feel confident in your message. It’s a good idea to practice your presentation in advance of meeting with the client. Use a video recorder to see how you look and sound.
- Get them talking – Be mindful that if you are doing all the talking you have no idea what they are thinking. Ask the client questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
- Maintain a positive attitude - If your customer’s attitude is negative resist the impulse to become defensive. Try to understand where he or she is coming from, and be flexible enough to offer alternatives.
- Find their “pain” – Every customer already has a similar business relationship with someone else. Your mission is to find what in that relationship is missing. Ask “If there is one thing in dealing with your current provider you could change, what would it be?”
In closing, if you have a product or service your client needs, and you can provide an alternative to deal with their “pain,” don’t forget to ask for the sale.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE.
A SCORE counselor since 2005, Gray Poehler owned and operated an independent insurance agency with 20 employees and two locations. He has earned the Certified Insurance Counselor designation and is familiar with both personal and commercial property and casualty insurance. Areas of expertise include: Business Finance and Accounting; Business Strategy and Planning; Business Operations; Human Resources and Internal Communications; Sales, Marketing and Public Relations.
To learn more about management issues of small businesses, contact the SCORE office nearest you.