CLOSING AND CLARIFYING – – –
Don’t Like “Closing”?
“Closing” is probably the most feared part of the sales process for both the prospect and the sales professional. For the prospect, the anticipation of feeling trapped and pressured; for the sales professional the risk of damaging that hard earned relationship and crushing the work they’ve done so far. Many sales professionals don’t even like the word.
Yet, Closing is a key part of the sales process, without it, there is no verbal commitment from the prospect and no way for the sales professional to gauge their clients thoughts.
There are many different attitudes that sales professionals adopt when it comes down to the subject of Closing; but I’ve found there are two very common yet very different views.
For empathetic sales professionals, those that smoothly and delicately build relationships using empathy and mothering techniques, Closing is something they lose sleep over. The thought of adding a question that creates tension is unthinkable and quite often overlooked.
For logical sales professionals, they’re more confident in using Closing techniques as it’s a part of their natural thought process. Quite often, the more logical they are as a person, the bolder they become when closing. Some even use the old “tie-down” or rhetorical technique; where no question is asked to the prospect, simply a statement “I’m sure you’d agree….”
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and coaching many sales professionals and when we introduce the topic of Closing it’s really interesting to watch the body language of the participants. A few, confidently lean back in their chairs, clasping their hands behind their head with a smile; while others land their elbows on the table and bury their face in their hands.
In sales, it’s all about the prospect, not the sales professional. With this in mind, we need to look at and understand the fear from their point of view. Think about it; as a sales professional, do you like it when you feel you are being closed or tied down by another sales professional? Of course not! So why should your prospect feel any different?
To the prospect, logical sales professionals can appear arrogant, with a lack of concern or interest to their needs when using closing techniques. It simply feels as though they want to rail-road the prospect into buying with no consideration whatsoever to their requirements. Logical sales professionals can often project a lack of listening skills or empathy.
Empathic sales professionals can appear weak when using closing techniques and this can project a lack of confidence to the prospect. Although it’s easy to warm to empathic sellers, it’s important that the prospect has confidence in your self-assurance. Great sales professionals guide prospects using leadership techniques based on their product knowledge and totally understanding their clients’ requirements.
Closing should not be regarded or used as you versus the prospect. Successful selling comes from working with the client, paddling in the same direction with the tide, not against it.
The easiest way to work with the client and gain confidence from them is to understand their needs or requirements. This can only be done by asking relevant questions, using great listening skills and clarifying what the prospect has relayed.
Closing, as a sales process is to gain commitment from the prospect through a series of questions. Once the prospect has responded, the closing technique may require further questioning for clarification then ended with a final question that simply requires a yes or no answer; this ends the subject. The whole closing process can be simply explained as a communication technique for the sales professional and prospect to agree they understand each other.
If you clarify something with someone you are simply confirming that you have understood what they just said correctly; right?
Just a moment; isn’t clarifying exactly the same principal as closing?
Clarifying is a very easy, non-confrontational word that is widely accepted by everybody. If you ask a clarifying question to a prospect, it gives them the opportunity to be understood completely. Their response to your question gives you the direction you need to take your sales presentation to be successful. Exactly the reason closing is used in the sales process.
So if you feel uncomfortable with the word Closing, simply replace it with the word Clarify.
When talking with prospects and there comes a moment you need to gain commitment through a closing question, perhaps try;
John and Mary, can I just clarify with you….
So just to clarify, if I can get it in that colour and that size you’d take it right?