The questions that many sales professionals ask are, “When to close a sale? How to close? How not to be pushy?” I still remember my first customers – a sweet young couple on a honeymoon in San Francisco. I was so enthusiastic and spent a lot of time presenting the beautiful photo they liked, telling an inspirational story about when and how it was taken and about the famous photographer Peter Lik. They loved it. They asked a lot of questions. They talked to each other about this picture. Did they buy it at the end? No, they did not. Why? Because I didn’t close the sale. I presented the product and stopped. I didn’t lead them to buy it and didn’t finish the sale. I just dropped them in the middle of the sale.
What would I do now in this situation? I would ask the simple question “Would you like to have a beautiful and very special memory about the most romantic time of your life?” I could also add, “Imagine that after 10 or 20 years you will be still looking at this picture remembering your wonderful honeymoon in San Francisco. You will show this picture of the Golden Gate Bridge to your friends, relatives and maybe your future children. The memory is priceless.”
Does it sound like closing and pushing to buy? No way. I see myself more as a friend who gives helpful recommendation or good advise. I really care about my customers and show it to them. Yes, I am using one of my closing strategies, but they would never know it.
1. Close from the beginning.
No, it doesn’t mean you should ask, “Would you like to buy it?” from the first moment you meet the person. It means that you have to earn customer’s trust, build relationship, find out their needs, ask questions, listen to him (her).
2. Learn to recognize when a customer is ready to buy. A customer might indicate they’re ready by asking questions about the product, your service or about the buying process, or they may show their willingness to buy non-verbally.
3. Do not push or rush your customer.
Nobody likes to be pushed or hurried, especially in a situation when they are spending their own money.
4. Respect their decision not to buy.
Not every customer buys and it is OK. Do not show that you are upset or angry. “I spent so much time with you, why don’t you want to buy it?” I know one sales professional who was not only calculating her commission in her mind but also what she is going to buy with it while she was selling! Every time she didn’t make a sale she was so unhappy because she felt like she lost real money.
5. Offer free trials, specific terms, discount, and freebees.
People like to feel that they get a special treat and everyone loves free stuff. Find out from your manager what you can offer with each item/product to your customer. It is amazing, but I sold many $500-1000 pictures only because I offered an autographed book by the artist as a present.
6. Ask the manger
This popular closing technique works very well in cases of discussing discounts or special offers. You could say, “I would like to give you this discount, but I need to ask my manager about it (get a special permission).” Then go and talk to your manager. Some sales professionals pretend they have this conversation. They go to the back room and come back in couple minutes with good news. If you are natural in playing it and it is working, use it. In a case of very big purchases I would recommend to bring a manger and ask him (her) about the discount in the front of a client.
How does this technique work? You show your customer that you really want him (her) to have the desired item, you are making an extra effort, you are helping and supporting them, you are “fighting” with the system to get a better deal. You will see that they respect you for it.
7. Give a customer time and space to think and talk about purchasing the product,
especially if you are dealing with a couple. They do need private time to discuss financial aspects of the purchase, where to put/hang a carpet/picture, about colour, size, model, etc. For example, we had a demo room in San Francisco Gallery where our clients could spend some time alone looking at the picture they want to buy and talk about it. It worked so well that we built another room!
8. Give them an opportunity to come back
This technique will work only if you already know the customer and built a good relationship with them. For example, you may see and feel that after spending considerable amount of time the customer is still not convinced to buy. In this case you can say, “I understand that this is important decision for you to make and you need some time to think about it. When would you like to come back to discuss it further?”
Offer them specific date and time, “Would like to come Tuesday or Friday? What time is the best for you?” You can also add, “The reason I am asking it because I am off on Thursday and Saturday, but I really want to help you.” Again you are offering service here and it is totally normal to discuss all possible options. If you have their phone number and have their permission to call – call and talk more on the phone. But please do not call every day. It is very irritating.
9. Let them know that now is the best time to buy
“We have this incredible 50 % off discount because of an extra stock”
“We have this deal only one time a year”
“It is a great buy because of a Christmas sale”
“The sale will only last for 1 week”
“It is the best time to buy because the prices are going up”
“Summer is coming. Would you like to get a fan (or patio furniture) now because it could be out of stock during the peak of the season”
10. Summarize the product description in just three words:
“It is better, cheaper, cleaner than… old model/competition offers/what you have”
“Faster, more modern, more reliable”
“Better build, more convenient, improved”
“Healthier, enhanced, organic”
This could be a good exercise for you. Write down 3 main words describing the product you are selling. They should be really meaningful and great words about this specific product. Does it remind you of the situation when an HR person asks you about your three main characteristics during a job interview? Well, it is the same process but instead of product you are “selling yourself”.
With high-end customers you can use words like “sophisticated, stylish, fancy, urban, chic, classy, refined, polished, elegant” to describe the product you are trying to sell.
Don’t forget about green words like “environmentally friendly, ecological, well-being, organic, natural, whole, macrobiotic, health.” Many people are into it, support the idea, and love to know more. If they are not into this yet, it will be a great chance for you to provide your customer with information and educate them.
11. Act like your customer already bought the product you are selling
This technique is based on the principle of ownership. If people start thinking that they already have it, it is harder not to buy. Most of us like to be owners. It also opens an opportunity for future discussion.
“Where will you put the table?” you can ask. “I was thinking of putting it in the dinning room,” your customer may answer. He (she) is drawing a picture in their mind thinking how it will fit to the room.
“Who will use the computer – you or your children?”
There are dozens of other closing sales techniques. How and when to use them? Every situation and each customer are different. Most importantly, practice, practice, practice. Use different approaches, experiment. The more you apply techniques the more skilled sales professional you will become, the more natural the process of closing will be.