If any part of your business involves negotiations or sales, it is vital that you learn to close the deal. Learning the principle of closing the sale is important for any entrepreneur. This is true whether sales are your primary business function, or just one task that you do – perhaps even reluctantly. For either group, the sales process can be made easier by learning the principle of closing the sale.
Most businesses involve sales, but in many of those businesses they are not the primary function. Instead these entrepreneurs often focus on other tasks throughout the bulk of their day. They might be a writer or a tradesperson. Imagine a cabinet maker who starts her own business. She spends most of her day making cabinets. She is great at it. But, in order to make any money, she needs to make some sales. So sales, while not her primary activity, are vital for her success.
The good news for our cabinet maker, and for entrepreneurs of all types, is that the principle of closing the sale is simple. It is not a complicated formula, or something that is left for professionals. Anyone can do it. Here’s the principle:
ASK FOR THE SALE
That’s it. It’s that simple. One of the biggest mistakes made in sales, in fact one of the biggest mistakes made by people in business is not taking the initiative to close the sale. While even seasoned sales people can struggle with this issue from time to time, it is most noticeable in people who only make sales once in a while.
You can’t expect the prospect to take initiative in making the purchase, you need to ask for the sale. People who are not experienced in sales, often view the sales process as a self-serve retail store. In self-serve retail, the customer comes in to the store, picks what he wants off the shelf, and goes to the cashier. Unfortunately, in most entrepreneurial endeavors it doesn’t work that way. If you are waiting for people to ASK to purchase, you will be missing out on a lot of business. Instead, you need to ask for the sale.
Thankfully, there are some simple steps that make this easier.
1. Ask open ended questions
Open ended questions are questions that do not have a yes or no answer. They are questions that you can ask to get your prospect talking and get them articulating what they are looking for. For our cabinet maker, some examples might be: “What would your dream cabinets look like?” or “If money was no object, what would you want to do in your kitchen?” This helps the entrepreneur to know what the prospect is really thinking.
2. Ask alternative questions (other than yes/no)
Alternative questions are questions that have two or more alternative answers. Examples here might be: “Are you looking for delivery this month or next?” or “Do you prefer design A or design B?” This continues to help narrow down what the customer is looking for.
3. Ask the close question, based on the previous answers
Your close question will often be a yes/no question, but by now you should know enough about your prospect to direct the question to what they have already said. For example, our cabinet maker might take the previous answers she has received and create a question like this, “So, if I am able to complete your kitchen using design A by your deadline date, do we have a deal?” Then wait. Wait for the answer. If there is dead air, you need to wait. Let them think. Wait until they answer, and then move forward.
4. When they appear ready to buy, ask!
Too often entrepreneurs will be so passionate about their product or service that they will keep going on and on and on well after the person they are speaking with has decided to purchase. The risk then becomes that you will lose the sale. So make sure you are aware, and when they appear ready to buy – ask!
You need to plan ahead.
Take some time and write up some questions that you can ask. Think through your business, and write out what some questions for each step would look like. Practice these questions so you are prepared to ask them of your clients. Then follow the principle of the sale – and ASK FOR THE SALE!
Danny Gamache – The Success Professor