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The basics of closing a sale

While closing sales is what gives the most joy to business owners, you’re never going to sell more without the fundamentals. Brett Lowe, director of Business Planning Works, explains the basics of closing a sale.

I haven’t yet met a business proprietor that isn’t pushing for more sales. I hear quite commonly “If only we could close more sales, business would be much better!” Well the reality is, the business and its salespeople are not supposed to close sales, the ‘prospect’ is! In order for the prospect to buy instead of the salesperson attempting to sell, the salespeople simply need to ‘open’.

So what do they need to open in order for the prospect to close?

• Open the new day of sales expectation through preparation. Ensure your people know their products or services and especially their individual unique benefits. Your people must know the day’s sales targets, the specials, the on-sells and the up-sells, and especially the skills and reasons for consistent performance. Trust me, your greatest competition is within your walls. Get it working with and for you, because if neglected, is will always inadvertently work against you.
• Open a relationship with the prospects. If time permits, rapport-building is crucial as people buy people before they buy products or services. They need to buy the trust-factor. They buy what they feel, and if they feel right about the salesperson, and about the business, they will allow you to take them to the next phase of the sales cycle. If time does not permit, as with business-to-business sales, be direct, honest and above all, be absolutely convicted by your benefits.
• Open the need for the benefits of the products or services. People rarely believe what they hear and almost always believe what they see. Don’t tell them, show them. Opening the need for your particular wares will depend upon whether your specialty is a discovered-need or an undiscovered-need. As the name suggests, a discovered-need indicates that the prospect is already aware of the need and knows what product-category they need to satisfy that need. In this case, the salesperson must open the need, not for the benefit, rather for the unique features that will definitely be experienced via your product or service. If your product/service overcomes an undiscovered-need then the prospect must be made aware, visually, that they are experiencing a pain (without knowing it) that can be alleviated by the product/service you are promoting. This can be achieved through a strong, quick and emotional presentation.
• Open the prospects road to the consummated sale. This means that the salesperson may clearly see the road to the sale, however the prospect’s mental-road is often littered with private obstacles. The ability for the salesperson to expect, accept and reassure the prospect through this phase is critical. Ask: ‘So tell me, it’s a great (product or service) isn’t it? What do you like best about it? Why is that? Great, so can you see any reason that would prevent you for enjoying these benefits?’
• Open the prospects decision-making mindset by asking for the order. Please, no sales trickery here, no gimmicks and no long-winded third-party stories. Remember, people don’t believe what you say when you’re speaking on behalf of a company or a product or service. Ask: ‘So then, you’re happy with that?’
• Open the Prospect’s purse, wallet or bank account. To do this you need to offer the Prospect all the available means of taking care of the transaction, and ask them which method would suit them today. The payment must be perceived to be as easy as possible. If applicable, highlight the savings in money, or time, or both. People love saving money, and they all want to save ‘now’.
• Open the door for the client to return and re-consume with you. Advise them of new stock arriving, or new specials approaching, and ensure that the salesperson’s parting statement is something like, ‘I’m glad that we could help you today with your (product/industry/service) needs. Thank you again (client’s name), and in advance of your next visit with us.’
• Open the internal-doors to consistent sales performance through constant measurement and skill. What gets measured gets done. Expectation, skills role-playing, course-correction, measurement, recognition and reward will create new ‘openings’ on a daily basis and an endless supply of positive emotions resulting in prospects ‘closing’ their own transactions by choice, not by chance.

—Brett Lowe is the director of sales & marketing with Business Planning Works, a national business mentoring organisation (info@businessplanningworks.com.au).

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