Tag Archives: closing techniques

The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #5: Invoke A Vow of Silence)

Top tele-sales closers always invoke a ‘vow of silence’ after they ask for the sale.

Highly effective telephone sales reps ask for the sale using a traditional or a nouveau close and then they ‘zip it.’ Nothing passes their lips until the prospect speaks.  They let the silent pause go to work for them.

Silence is particularly powerful and effective in telephone selling compared to face to face selling.  Because there are no visual distraction in tele-sales, silence is perceived as three to six times longer than it really is. What this does is create a noticeable gap – a vacuum in the conversation and, in turn, this creates a degree of tension. It literally compels the prospect to fill the silent void. Silence is an itch that needs to be scratched.

Beware! 2-Way Tension

But tension works both ways.

Telephone reps can acutely feel the awkwardness of silence just as easily as the prospect.  Maybe even more so because there’s a sale at risk!   There can be an overwhelming impulse to fill that gap with a rush of additional information on the product or service.  Or even worse, some reps go to the extreme and torpedo the effort with comments like,  “Well…ah…maybe you’d like some more time to think about it,” or “Why don’t I send you some information and you decide then.” Yikes!

Summary

Effective closers resist the urge because they know with absolute certainty that additional conversation of any sort detracts from the objective of closing.  Instead they invoke a vow of silence. They doodle or file their nails or clear their desk. And they wait it out.

Give your client the time to digest your offer. Give them the time to weigh their options. Give them time to say yes.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #4: Asking)

Okay, here’s where the rubber really hits the road.

After preparing for a call, after keeping an ear out for buying signals AND after using test closes to gauge client interest, top closers simply ASK for the sale.

It seems kind of ridiculous to hammer this point home because it’s so dang obvious but good closers ARE good closers because they unfailingly ask for the sale. They don’t sit on their hands and hope for a sale. They don’t wait for the client to raise their hand and volunteer to buy.

They seize the moment.

Here are five closing techniques that top closers use. Three are ‘classic’ closes and two are ‘nouveau’ closes.

3 Classic Closing Techniques

1.The Direct Close

The name says it all. The direct close is just that: direct and to the point. There is no confusion about what the tele-sales rep is asking. I find the very best closers tend to use direct closes most often. For instance,

“So, Mark, would you like to place that order now?”

“Bevin,  would you like to purchase the software?”

Because it is so ‘black and white,’ it gets the prospect to give a definitive answer one way or another.  It’s quick and easy.

2. The Assumptive Close

The assumptive close assumes the sale has been made, and the tele-rep closes on a smaller issue. The theory is that the client is not longer making a major ‘buying’ decision but rather a minor ‘administrative’ decision.  For example,

“Carson, how many would you like?”

“Okay Morgan, I can get those out on today’s truck.”

The assumptive close is probably the most popular closing technique. It doesn’t seem as ‘assertive’ as the direct close so it appeals to a broader base of tele-sales rep.  Who cares as long as it works?

4. The Choice Close

The choice close is really an assumptive close with options. Here again, the theory is the client is making a decision on two administrative points rather than on a major purchase:

‘Would you like to begin with the 3-pack or the 5-pack?’

“Would you like overnight delivery or 3-day ground?”

2 ‘Nouveau’ Closing Techniques

If you’re not French or ‘hip’, nouveau means “new.”  These two techniques seem to work exceptionally well in a tele-sales situation.

4. Give it a Shot Close

This close is simple but a highly effective close.  Assuming that you’ve presented your solution to their needs, you close by saying,

“So, Janis, would you like to give it a shot?

This colloquial, off-the-cuff close positions the sale as ‘no-big-deal.’  This makes the decision to buy seem easier. Giving something a shot implies that the decision can be rescinded and that it is not permanent.  Psychologically, the client feels there is a ‘way out’ if necessary.  It’s a bit of a mind game and that’s what makes this such an excellent close.  It’s my favorite.

5. Any Reason Why We Can’t Proceed Close

This close works exactly the way it looks. Again, presuming you’ve done your needs analysis and presented a solution, your closing remark is this,

“So, Carrie-Anne, is there any reason why we can’t proceed with the software installation?”

It does two things. First, it solicits any objection that might be lurking in the background.  Get rid of the objection and you get the sale. Secondly, it moves the client into the ‘closing mode.’ If you’ve presented well, this question is almost rhetorical because it implies that saying ‘yes’ is the only logical choice. Simply pause and let them reply.

Summary

Great closers always, always ask for the sale because it increases the closing rate. Period. What close you use is a matter of personal style.  If you’re more casual,  use the nouveau approach. If you’re a little more subtle, use the assumptive or choice. If you like to go for the brass ring, use the direct close. But use ONE of them.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #2: Recognizing Buying Signals)

Highly effective closers are acutely tuned into buying signals.

A buying signal is anything that a prospect says that indicates a legitimate interest in purchasing the product. Buying signals are sign posts that indicate if the call is on the right track.  Closers follow the signs.

Buying Signals 101

Okay, here’s the skinny on buying signals.  First of all, buying signals don’t necessarily occur at the end of the call.  Depending on the situation, a client can indicate interest at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the call. So what that really means is that you have to been tuned in 100% of the time. Missing a sign post at the beginning of a call may take you away from your final closing destination.  Following at buying signal at the beginning of a call may act like a secret path and take you to the close immediately

Next, buying signals come in hot, medium and mild.  In other words, some buying signals are stronger than others. When the client speaks as though she has already taken possession of the product, you have a hot signal. On the other hand, if the client simply says, “That’s interesting” in a non-committal manner, it’s mild. Highly effective closers understand this and can separate the two.

Third, a lack of a buying signal doesn’t necessarily mean the client is not interested but your spider senses should be tingling.  Great closers will actively solicit a buying signal to assess where they are on the trail.  (More on that in Habit #3: Trial Closes)

And finally, buying signals over the telephone fall into two categories:  verbal and tonal.

Verbal Buying Signals

Verbal buying signals are questions or statements from clients that indicate specific interest.

“Will that integrate with my current software?”

“So there is absolutely no charge for the trial?”

“That would be easy for us to implement…”

“What sort of support do you provide?”

“That sounds interesting…”

“That’s a neat feature!”

“Can it be leased?”

“How long does implementation typically take?”

Another verbal buying signal is when the client speaks as though he or she has already taken possession of the product or service.

“So, when we are ready, you’ll do the training, right?”

“How often will I get updates?”

“So, we’ll get unlimited access to the resource center, correct?”

“I’d need to speak to our IT guy to see if there’s room on the server.”

“So after you give the training you can show us how to coach?”

Tonal Buying Signals

Tonal verbal signals are “sounds” that prospective buyers make that indicate interest or value.  Unfortunately, trying to provide a tonal example in a written format such as this article is a bit of a challenge but I think you know what I am talking about, don’t you?

For example, suppose you make a key point and you hear a positive “Ohhh…”  This suggests a sense of delight or interest. It’s a buying signal.  Similarly, if you hear a thoughtful “hmmm…” chances are the prospect is contemplating the benefits of ownership.

The effective closer listens for these indicators because she doesn’t have the benefit of face-to-face contact.

Summary

Highly effective closers are keenly aware of buying signals. Of course, it is not enough to recognize a buying signal.  You need to do something with it. Leverage it. Shape it. Use it.  And that’s where the third habit kicks in.  A great closer uses trials closes to make the most of the signal. See the next article in the series.

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3 Simple Steps to Convert More Inquiries Into Sales

Every now and then an outbound tele-sales rep gets lucky.

Every now and then a rep is handed an opportunity gift wrapped as an inbound inquiry.  A prospect picks up the phone and calls about a product or service.  The trouble is, surprised by this unexpected turn of events, many tele-reps are caught completely off guard and unprepared.  Typically, they answer the inquiry and leave the caller dangling in the wind; expecting or hoping that the prospect will say, “I’ll buy it!”

What’s missing here?

What’s missing  is the call to action.  The close.

As obvious as this may appear to be, failing to ask for the sale is a daily occurrence.  Perhaps the rep believes it’s up to the prospect because he/she initiated the call. Who knows? But don’t let it happen to you.  Here are three simple steps to converting more inquiries into sales.

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Closing the Sale: 5 Simple Steps to Move the Sales Cycle Forward Faster

Most sales cycles are far, far longer than they need to be.

What does that mean precisely to you?  It means that it takes longer for you to meet and exceed your objectives.  It means losing more sales. It means having your boss breathing down your neck. It means frustration and disappointment.  And it means mediocrity.

In many cases you can shorten the sales cycle by following a simple process.  If you are interested in generating more sales in less more time, then read on.

A Dose of Reality

Here the situation: after a sales call or visit the overwhelming majority of reps intuitively know what needs to be done next to move the sale forward.  The problem is that the overwhelming majority of reps don’t do it.  Or at least they don’t do it as effectively or as quickly as they might. Consequently, momentum is lost.  The sales cycle slows. The ultimate sale takes longer or is lost.

The Debrief Process – What

The sad thing is this: managing and shortening the sales cycle is relatively easy.

Here’s all you have to do: after every call or visit, take 2-3 minutes and following the five step ‘debriefing’ process listed below. In other words, review what has just happened and determine what you need to do next.

1. Note it

First, jot down any notes, observations and comments on paper or in your computer. This is not rocket science.  But generally speaking reps have a reluctance to paper work so they skip this step. They keep details stored away in their minds convincing themselves that they’ll remember what needs to be done. Some are successful at this others, the majority, are not.  Write it down. Nothing fancy, nothing complex; just write it down.

2. List it

Next, and this is important, list everything that needs to be done to move the cycle forward.

Ask your self “What next?” But you need to push yourself here.  Most reps will know what needs to be done next but you should be thinking two, three and four steps beyond this. What other things, tasks, or activities could you be doing that will shorten the cycle? What can I do to create value and stimulate action on the part of the client? A thank you card? An article of  interest? A proposal? What?

This step separates good reps from great reps. Great reps, list everything that needs to be done and then some.

3. Prioritize

This, too, is a simple task and easy to perform. Ask yourself: what needs to be done right now and what can be done later.

4. Schedule it

Schedule the tasks you have created.  This step is the big differentiator.

Most sales reps know what they should do to keep the sale simmering. But precious few will actually schedule the task in their contact management software.  If you plan to send an article or e-card, schedule precisely when you will send it. If you don’t schedule, you won’t do it or you won’t do it on time.

If you plan to make a follow up call to three different departments, schedule them.  If you don’t, the time to do these tasks will get extended by days or weeks or worse, ignored or forgotten completely. If you need to draw up a quote or a proposal, schedule it.  Get the message?

Use you alarm function and obey it. Batch activities at certain times of the day. Block it out on your calendar to ensure you keep the ‘appointment.’

5. Do it

Finally, just do it.  If you have something scheduled do it. Don’t procrastinate. Do it. Do it NOW. Get it done. When the alarm or appointment function pops up, obey it. It will keep you on track.

Summary

You’ll see this over and over again:  sales are made up of a lot of little things done right.  These five “what next” tips are so deceptively simple that your first reaction will be to dismiss them completely. But what they do is create discipline.  A process is a repeatable event and easy enough to master.

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Closing the Sale: 25 Compelling Reasons Why Prospects Might Say YES

Closing is often cited as the most difficult skill or technique for sales reps to master.  The primary reason for this reaction is the fear of hearing no. To many reps, the word ‘no’ is associated with rejection and with failure. This leads to frustration, discouragement and despair. Left unchecked, it could mean the loss of a job.

Mind Games

The fear of hearing ‘no’ is an insidious mind game. Consciously or subconsciously, sales reps tend to psych themselves out by conjuring up all sorts of reasons why a prospect would say no:  too expensive, bad economy, happy with current supplier, don’t need, don’t want it, don’t like it, don’t like you. Sound familiar? In effect, reps have prefabricated the ‘no’ they expect to receive. This type of negative thinking is destructive because it creates ‘so-why-bother-asking’ mentality.  Instead, the rep hopes –or prays- that the prospect will take the initiative and say, “I’ll buy it.”

Don’t be a victim of this type of this mind game!

Give your head a shake and reverse the situation.

Sure prospects say no, but a lot of them say yes. And that’s where your focus should lie. Give yourself a fighting chance by NOT focusing on why a prospect might say no and freaking out over it. Instead, focus on WHY a prospect might say YES. It is a simple but highly effective mental shift. By doing this you create a positive mindset and you begin to think of why you should ask instead of why you shouldn’t.  You’ll soon discover that the more you ask, the more you’ll get.

25 Reasons Why Your Prospects Might Say Yes:

Here is a quick list of 25 reasons why a prospect might say yes. Print and post this list somewhere visible. Read it two or three times a day, or whenever your spirit is lagging.

1. For whatever reason, the client likes you. People buy from people they like.

2. The client trusts you. Double whammy. People buy from people they like AND trust.

3. They see the value of your product or service.

4. You price is good. Maybe even great.

5. They want what you have.

6. The prospect doesn’t like your competitors.

7. The prospect doesn’t see any extra value in your competitors.

8. He/she is in a good mood and buys off the cuff.

9. The prospect is in a hurry and wants to save time.

10. The prospect is unhappy with their present supplier and wants a change.

11. The client wants to minimize his risk with the present supplier.

12. The prospect wants to send a “message” to their present supplier.

13. The prospect wants to make a change in product and try something new.

14. The prospect is a new buyer and has no allegiance to the existing vendor.

15. You sell well. You’re good at what you do.

16. The prospect doesn’t have a choice. You win by default.

17. They lack the courage to say “no.”

18. The decision to buy from you can make the prospect look good in the eyes of his boss.

19. You have a great offer. Why not?

20. You are politely persistent and the prospect admires your tenacity.

21. The prospect feels the need to reciprocate because you did or sent something of value (like an article, a card, a bottle of BBQ Spice).

22. They are worried they’ll get caught short.

23. The prospect wants to ‘test you out’ and see how you perform.

24. Your marketing material was persuasive.

25. It’s a mystic moment: Jupiter is aligned with Mars. You just get lucky.

Summary

There are probably 25 more reasons if you simply take the time to think.  Remember this: too many reps dwell too much on why a prospect might say ‘no’ and convince themselves not to ask for the sale.  The smart choice is to go into a sale thinking of all the reasons why a prospect might say yes.  This leads to a positive attitude that reflects in your demeanor and in what you say. It also leads to sales success. Plain and simple.

Think yes and sell more.

PS: Here’s a bonus reason (#26): Your competitor didn’t ask for the sale because he feared saying ‘no’…and you didn’t.

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The Test Drive Close – How to Use a Picture Words to Close More Sales by Phone

Selling over the telephone is like selling blind.  You cannot see the individual or the environment and they cannot see you.  It’s a major challenge and one of the reasons why telephone selling is so tough.

But it doesn’t have to be so debilitating. You can compensate for this rather barren selling environment by adding colorful imagery to your words and thoughts at certain key times in your discussion.  In effect, you want to paint vivid pictures in the clients mind in order help them understand your product or service and make it easier to buy.

One of the best ways to do that is to use a metaphor or an analogy. Metaphors and analogies are simply ways to conjure up images that makes your thoughts or suggestions easier to comprehend and understand.

The Test Drive Close

The trick to making them work for you is to have words and phrases prepared ahead of time for various parts of your selling conversation.  For instance, suppose your company provides a sample of a product.  It might be the use of a software package for a month or maybe short term subscription to a newsletter; anything that the client can try in order to get a feel for the value of the item.

Despite the fact that the item might be ‘free’ or of minimal charge, you will still find clients have to be enticed further because they may be uncertain, skeptical or even jaded. And since they can’t see you either, it is important to be as persuasive as possible. A way to position the offer is to call it a “test drive.”  For example,

“_____, to get you started I would like to recommend a “test drive.” In other words, I would like to recommend that you give the program a ‘spin’ around the block with three or four patients so you can get a feel how we work, how your patients respond and how the program benefits your practice. You can assess our effectiveness, see how things operate, compile any questions and evaluate it from bumper to bumper. If you like the drive – and I am certain it will- we can expand it as necessary. If it does not work well for you, well, you’ve risked nothing and we can retrieve the units.”

At a conscious or subconscious level, the test drive generates a harmless, ‘no-big-deal’ image of test driving a car before buying it. It is something everyone can immediately relate to and understand. We all know that test drives does not mean you have to buy the vehicle. We all know that it is meant to give you a feel for car, how it drives, handles, accelerates, even how it smells.  If you like the drive, you can proceed further down the sales path. If not, you park it on the lot and move on. There are no strings attached.

The metaphor simplifies your offer by relating it to an every day event. Everyone understands the test drive implication. At some level, this reduces the sense of risk and makes the decision to try the offer easier and more palatable. That’s the power of metaphors, analogies and colorful words or phrases.

What to Do Next

  • Think about your products or services. Is there anything to which you can compare them? Test the imagery. See how your clients respond.  Try other comparisons and see how they do.
  • Think of your product features and come up with images that make understanding them easier and more relevant ((“it’s no bigger than box of chocolates” or “This amount of memory is like have 10 million blank pages in a book”).
  • Think of the options you might offer. Can you draw a picture to help people differentiate those options ? (“In effect, our product is like taco sauce: it comes in hot, medium and mild”)
  • Use a metaphor to prompt the client and direct their thoughts. (“Doc, you know the type of patient I am looking for: the weekend warrior, the soccer mom, the walking wounded from a car accident”)
  • And the list goes on.

Summary

Using metaphors, analogies and colorful words or phrases is not a new concept.  But often they are used spontaneously rather than deliberately.  Words are powerful selling tools and many of them should be pre-planned and used with deliberation in order to maximize their effect.  In the blind world of telephone sales, this is doubly important. Give metaphors and analogies a test drive and see what you think.

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Closing A Sale: The Absolute BEST Tele-Sales Close …ever

Are you looking for a close that is easy to use, highly effective AND gets more clients to say ‘yes’ more often?

Sound impossible?

Maybe not.  Assuming that you have done a decent job in getting to know your client, understanding his needs and providing a solution that fits, the “Give it a Shot” close can increase your success rate. It can do this because the “give it a shot” close” tackles one of the most frequent but unarticulated objections: the risk factor. If you reduce the risk you increase your chances of selling more.

The “Give it a Shot” Close

Here’s how it works. When it is time to ask for the sale say this,

“So Greg, would you like to give it shot?”

That’s all there is to it. It seems simple enough but frankly, there’s almost a “magical” quality about it. It’s rich in psychology and works exceedingly well because of the phrase “give it a shot.”

Give it a shot implies that the buying decision the client is about to make has a ‘temporary’ quality to it. At subconscious level, the words ‘give it a shot’ suggests to the buyer that her purchase can be rescinded, returned, reversed, changed, or given back. And what this implication  really does is it provides peace of mind to the buyer and gives that little extra confidence to go ahead with the decision to purchase.

In the world of tele-sales, the give it a shot close is powerful especially with first time buyers who are often skeptical. They may not know you or your company or your products so they are ‘skittish’. Furthermore, because they cannot see you over the phone, there is an added disadvantage.  The give it a shot close helps reduce the impact of these factors.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. A person can’t really ‘give it a shot’ when purchasing can they? Either she purchases or she doesn’t. In other words, the client ends up purchasing even if she thinks it’s temporary. And assuming that your product is relatively decent and lives up to your claims, the client will end up keeping it. They’re happy. You’re happy.

Another Tip

Here’s a tip to making the give it a shot close even more effective. Practice. Practice how you deliver it.

Give it a shot has a colloquial nature to it. It sounds off the cuff and that implies the sale is ‘no big deal.’ Bearing this in mind, your tone should be casual and easy going. You want to give a “no-big-deal-about-it” quality to your voice. If you make the give it a shot close sound simple it ‘becomes’ simple and hence, it further reduces the sense of risk.

But What if…

Okay, but what if the client doesn’t like the results of your product? What if she wants to return it? What if she wants her money back?

There are two options here. Option #1, comply. Give them their money back. Stand behind your product or service.  Option #2: do what you currently do with your product returns. The give it a shot close does not mean or imply that the product is free and it does not imply that they will get their money back unconditionally. It means what it says, ‘give it a shot and see what you think.’  The vast majority of clients will understand that.

So why not give it a shot yourself?

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