The most overlooked selling skill is Probing, asking the right questions and learning your opportunity environment. The most abused selling skill is Proving, demonstrating how your product fills the customers need. Closing is the most hated selling skill.
Hated might be overstatement. There are many sales people who claim to love closing. That’s generally because they’re doing it wrong.
“What will it take to put you in this car today” is not a good close even if you’re a used car salesman. And if it works once, it was probably because they were too motivated to buy to be chased off by such a contrived question. Don’t expect it to work again on that customer.
“Is this the kind of car that fits your family’s needs,” is a good trial close to discover product objections. Or, “would you like to see our financing terms so you can see how they compare to yours” might uncover some budget issues. When you get a positive answer to these and all of your other trial close questions, then you can ask for the business in a professional way. “It seems we’ve met all your needs and I’m ready to seal this deal if you’re comfortable with it.”
Trial close? What is a trial close? It’s a close you don’t expect to close with. It’s a way to discover the inevitable obstacles to getting the win so you can deal with them.
Here’s the thing about closing – you ease into it. Lots of sales advisors call this gaining commitment and they advise doing it in small increments. Whatever you call it, it’s a closing process, not a closing statement. Each obstacle has to be identified and negotiated away. Sometimes obstacles are obvious – lower your price. Sometimes they are subtle – your customer doesn’t have the authority to close the deal and isn’t willing to acknowledge that.
The only way to learn the obstacles and negotiate them away is to ask, not for the sale, but for one step in the process to the decision. When the obstacle is raised, deal with it. “That’s as low as I can go, but remember that our exclusive framistan technology will save you $7,692 in the very first year.” Or, “Would you like me to present our offer to anyone else on your buying team?”
When you approach closing not as a battle to outwit the customer, but as the seduction after all those dates, it can be fun. And rewarding.
And just in case you missed the links at the beginning, here are the first three selling skill articles: