Closing the Sale - a step in a process - not an end event

Isn't it amazing - Closing the sale is too often treated like the second volume of a novel, when in fact it's just a chapter in the first volume. Too many poor salespeople focus on just closing the sale, (or the listing) rather than doing what the top salespeople do - focus on the relationship and then closing the sale.

So let's look at a few principles that can guide us through the subject of closing the sale.

• Closing the sale is only a natural conclusion to a process
• No matter how good your tricky or clever closing techniques, you won't close a poor prospect
• Closing the sale starts at the beginning of the sales process - not the end.
• Closing Skills are only as important as your attitude to closing the sale.
• Building a relationship through a consultative approach can lead to closing a sale after closing on the relationship.

Typically we see many salespeople trying to close the sale only at the end of the presentation. A sale is like the planks on a bridge - you nail them down one at a time - leave a gap and the sale falls through. Yes, selling and closing, is based around closing a current prospect by providing a service or product that solves one of their pressing needs.

But it is more about building and closing a trusting relationship and partnership with them. Our clients have ever changing needs - these evolve and mature -often providing us with a chain of transactions over our careers, if only we close on the relationship.

So it could be time to look at some of our closing techniques and strategies.

We may have been taught over the years that we need to use techniques such as;

"Get it before the price goes up"

"Be quick, there is another offer coming"

"Which would you prefer, the townhouse at Smith St or this new home?"

These techniques can sometimes work but they only focus on how this current product or service will solve our prospects current problem.

I guess you have to start the sales process somewhere and the key is to create yourself as a resource - or consultant - for this prospect/client. Start to build the relationship before even attempting to close the sale.

The place to start is by reviewing your personal selling and closing philosophy. If you are one of those salespeople who are intent on doing just this deal/sale - moving this product and on to the next - selling this home to the first buyer who comes along, without proper marketing - then your focus is on the short-term.

Long-term sales success may well come from being prepared to risk this immediate sale. If you are to develop a long-term relationship with a new prospect/client you should not be focused on the order as much as you need to focus on the relationship.

Far more importance needs to placed on:

• Your rapport building skills, your questioning and listening abilities
• Your observation skills - especially body language
• Your skills at constructing features and benefits
• Analysing needs and wants
• Educating your client as to their options
• Understanding the clients previous experience
• The clients motivations and timeframes
• The future chain of sales with this prospect

Relationships are rather dynamic things - they either get better or worse. The key is to manage yourself so that the relationship gets better. Not only will it lead to more sales with this prospect but it will lead to a growing number of referrals.

The keys to this are:

No hidden personal agendas

Quality value added communication

Impeccable integrity

Trust

Honesty


Developing all these with a new prospect you have not yet sold to is quite easy if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Take a consultative approach. It is their home so treat it that way. They may have sold before or already have been on the market. Their experience to- date and their unspoken agendas, will provide them with an instant benchmark to judge your style, direction and skill. So provide information, guide them to a quality solution, make recommendations that meet their needs and you can be pleasantly surprised how quickly the relationship will develop.

Are there other products and services that these prospect needs, that you can supply, recommend or refer?

From my own experience in my current training role I am continually reminded of the give and you will receive philosophy. I am always giving away tips at my own cost, giving free sessions to individuals in need of a little guidance and direction, copies of new approaches to sales I have developed and whilst it might look like I'm giving my service or product away, that initial relationship always pays me back ten-fold.

• Let people know you are as interested in their success as much as your own

• Don't be threatened by the competition and show your belief in your own service or product by sharing all you know.

Clients want value today - in both service and product - indeed they will pay more for real value. Differentiate yourself from your competitors by:

• being prepared to give plenty of free guidance and advice

• by acting on their answers to your questions

• by being prepared to recommend a range of choices

• never criticizing your competitors

• providing evidence that your product or service will provide the solution they want.

Spend enough time and give enough service that you create the impression

"If Ian does this much before he lists our house/sells us a house, we can be confident he will do even more once he has listed/sold for us"

Set high expectations for service and then work hard to keep the business and earn referrals and the right to use these clients as a reference.

We all know it costs more time, energy and resources to create a new customer than it does to keep and nurture an existing one. Whilst a continual flow of new customers is vital to grow your business we must not under estimate the ability of our existing client relationships to assist in this growth. Are you spending enough time to create new business from existing clients?

None of this takes away the responsibility to ask the closing question. Few clients automatically give you their business. You still have to ask for it.

"Seems to me, that you like most things about this house. Could this be the one? "

"From your response it seems like you prefer this option. Am I correct in assuming that?"

So is closing a strategy or an attitude? A skill or a philosophy?

The long term client relationships and chains of transactions surround the salespeople who stand in the market saying "I am here to help you"

Remember that lovely line in that little book "The One-Minute Salesperson"
"I only get what I want when they get what they want"

IAN KEIGHTLEY


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