In Part 1, Clements discusses techniques to bring a customer from opposition and indifference to the closing phase of a sale.
Moving the customer toward a buying position means that you have handled their objections and it’s time to see if they are ready to move toward a commitment. You may not know for sure at this point, which is precisely why you need to do a quick check.
To determine where the customer is at in the process, we do what is called a “trial close.” The trial close is simply asking the customer a question that will determine if they are close to making a buying decision.
The trial close should involve having the customer envision himself or herself using the equipment and then elicit a response from them about their perceived satisfaction. For example, you may ask, “How do you see this mower working on your yard?” You may find out by asking the trial close question that the customer stops and says, “This is exactly what I’m looking for.” In that case, your trial close became your closing question and all you have to do is say to the customer, “Well, let’s get the paperwork done and we can have you and your equipment on your way.”
The moment the customer has made a decision to purchase, be quiet and begin the paperwork. If you continue to sell, you can move a “yes” into a “let me think about it” and literally un-sell a sold customer.
On the other hand, if the customer says, “I think it would work great on my yard, but not sure how easy it would be to handle on the road banks,” there is a perceived problem that may prevent the customer from moving forward. At this point, the trial close acted like a compass and pointed us in the proper direction. Up to this point, you may not have known the customer wanted to mow road banks and hadn’t focused on the customer’s level of comfort using a zero-turn mower.
By using a trial close, you can redirect your efforts because you know what’s on your customer’s mind, can address those questions or concerns, and move to the final close.
Use the trial close after you present or demonstrate a key feature that the customer wanted based upon your qualification process. If a customer was interested in three specific features, a trial close should be used after each point. Keep in mind that you are just trying to get a sense of where the customer is at in the buying process and working on continuing to move in the right direction.
Moving Toward Ownership
If the customer has answered in a positive way toward your trial close and you can see signs and hear sounds that make you believe the customer is ready to move from “looker” to “owner,” you will want to begin the closing sequence. Customers always give signs about where they are in the buying process. For example, watching customers lean forward or pull back from equipment will also tell you a lot about their readiness to make a buying decision. Little nods of the head and positive moans, groans and sounds are all signs that you should look and listen for to let you know if and when it is time to move to the closing sequence of the selling process.
At this point in the selling process, you have done everything right. You asked the customer questions to find out what they both needed and wanted. You have guided them toward the right product and answered their questions to a point where they are ready to move forward. This is the time, for most sales people, where they have their fingers crossed, hoping beyond hope the customer pulls out hundred dollar bills and says the magic words, “I’ll take it.” And while that does happen some of the time, in most cases the customer is waiting for you to ask for their business.
Most people that are in sales at a dealership love to help the customer find the right equipment. They go out of their way to answer every question and then at the most important time in the process, fail to just ask for the business for fear the customer will tell them no. It’s the rejection — the no — that most sales people can’t handle.
I would rather ask and have the customer say no, than to have a customer leave and end up purchasing a lesser mower from a competitor because their sales person simply asked for the business.
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Asking for their Business
Let’s take a look at a couple of simple techniques you can use that will give you the confidence to ask for the customers’ business. The easiest way I have found to move a person from someone who is just looking at a product to someone owning a product is to just assume they are going to buy.
If you have done everything right and the customer is responding to your trial closes, all you should have to do is make a statement that implies the customer is moving forward with the decision. It’s called an assumptive close.
As an example, the customer has been nodding their head up and down as I share with them the benefits of owning a mower. I can tell from their body language they are excited about what both the product and my dealership can do for them, so I just say, “It seems to me that this is the mower that would fit your situation best. Why don’t I get with the service department, have them get the mower ready and while they are doing that, we can do the paper work and have you on your way?”
It’s that simple. Just assume they are ready to move forward and guide them through the process. An assumptive close is the verbal equivalent of grabbing them gently by the hand and helping them make a decision that you and they know is the right decision to make.
You may be thinking, “What if I try the assumptive close and the customer says they are not ready to make a decision?” That’s perfect, because now you would move to a summary close. The summary close is just what it sounds like it is. Let’s say for a moment that you tried the assumptive close and the customer said, “Well I not sure I am ready to make a decision.” You should say, “That’s fine. I don’t want you to invest in a mower that you don’t feel meets your needs. Let’s just go back over some of the things you said you wanted to make sure the mower would do and make sure I haven’t missed anything.”
At this point, you go back through all the things they said they wanted and agreed to as you were doing your presentation. As you go through these items, get them to reaffirm these are the things they said they were looking for. As you move through point by point, you will either uncover something you missed or increase the customer’s confidence in both you and your brand.
Either way, at the end, just ask, “Is there anything else that I may have missed or that you are concerned about that we haven’t addressed?” At that point, be quiet and let them talk. If they say “yes,” address the issue and move back to the assumptive close. If they say “no,” move back to the assumptive close and the sale will be yours.
One of my favorite closes doesn’t seem like a close at all and many times can take place during the trial closing part of the selling process. It’s called the reverse. Reversing is simply answering a specific question with a question and letting the customer respond. As an example, let’s say that I have qualified the customer, demonstrated the features they wanted to see and the customer asks me, “If I decided to purchase this, would it be possible to take it with me today?” If you are like most sales people, your heart rate will quicken and you will blurt out, “Sure we can make that happen!”
At that point the customer many times will say, “Ok, I was just curious.” You were thinking you had a sale, and you did, only to buy it back. Let’s play that same scenario out using the reverse. So the customer says to you, “If I decided to purchase this, would it be possible to take it with me today?” Now, I want you to reverse it back by saying, “Would that work best for you, being able to take the mower with you today?” Now the customer will have to say either yes or no. I will tell you in all my years of doing this close, there have only been a few times that the customer said no. They asked the question because they were ready to move forward. I just re-asked the question to them and required them to respond. When they say, “Yes, that would be great,” I just move into the assumptive close and finish the transaction. In my opinion, the reverse is one of the best ways to bring the sale to a close because the customers closed themselves.
Keep in mind that as a salesperson for your dealership you are responsible for helping people find the product that best fits their individual situation. You do this by asking good questions, getting them emotionally invested in the product and then helping them make the decision to move forward.
If a customer leaves your dealership and goes to a competitor, both you and they have lost. You lost a sale you should have gotten and the customer lost the opportunity to do business with a dealership that will take care of them and their equipment for as long as they own it.
If you truly believe in you dealership and the brand, you have a duty as a professional to help as many people as possible experience the quality of both.