There always has been a debate in professional selling circles about the importance of closing skills. One thing is certain. No sale can be made unless someone asks for the order. The skill of closing is one of the most important elements of effective selling.
Over the years, we have spent a great deal of time talking with printing salespeople and sales managers about how to get appointments, make sales calls, and build value propositions. These are all very important, but if salespeople cannot move the sale forward and gain commitments from customers, then most printing companies will be left with weak sales pipelines, high cost of sales, and low sales growth.
Salespeople should never underestimate the value of effective closing skills. The selling process does not move forward until someone closes. Most customers expect it.
Closing marks the logical break from one step in the selling process to the next, including the final close for the order.
Why Printing Salespeople Do Not Close
We have found in our training workshops that weak closing skills can be linked to both skill and behavior. For instance, some avoid closing by becoming overly technical or concentrating on trivial matters that will only delay the obvious “yes” or “no” decision.
Our research has indicated that salespeople who lack confidence and business acumen have the most problems. Some salespeople are simply fearful of getting a “no.” Others are awkward and inappropriately aggressive.
Getting a firm “yes” or “no” is crucial to effective time management for the salesperson, as well as to uncover objections so that that they can be resolved. If objections cannot be resolved, it is time to move on to another prospect.
Seven things to know about closing:
1. Make sure you have the right customer
Closing the customer before they are “qualified” can result in the loss of a sale. Knowing that the customer has the budget, and what their decision process is, must be known before the close. Simple questions, such as “Who will make the decision on this order?” or “How will this project be funded within your organization?” will give the salesperson vital information.
Trying to close an order with a person who can’t make a decision is a bad idea.
2. Qualify your customer as a good fit for your offering before you close
If your product or service can’t solve their problem, help them capture a business opportunity, or save them money, then it is likely that the customer will not be ready for your close. If the customer is pleased with what they currently have, and can see no value in what you are providing, you have no right to close.
Your job is to demonstrate the value of your offering and to get the agreement of the customer before you proceed.
3. Every close starts with a question.
There are many types of closing questions. Avoid tired and annoying techniques such as, “If you buy today, we can give a special discount.” Most customers are much more educated today and have little tolerance for manipulative closes.
There are hundreds of closing question techniques. Here are a few common examples:
- Directly ask for the order – “Now that we have reviewed all your requirements for this project, can you authorize the order now?” In transactions, where there are many sales steps, directly asking for the order is natural and logical. Many customers appreciate a direct and non-manipulative close.
- Assumptive close – “I am very excited that you like this proof. If you sign the order today, we can deliver next Thursday.” Many customers like to feel comfortable that they are making the right decision; this approach reinforces the customer’s wise choice.
- Alternative close – “Do you want the job delivered this week or next week?” This technique offers more than one clearly defined alternative to the customer.
- Minor point close – “Would you prefer this to be printed on the same stock or would you want the heavier weight?” By getting the customer to agree on a minor point, it helps to get them comfortable with saying “yes” and closer to saying “yes” to an order.