With all of the discussion on marketing and sales, I thought it made sense to bring in a sales perspective and guidance to the site. The following excerpt is certainly important to sales and comes from my colleague, Rob Krekstein. This post also appeared recently in B2C Marketing Insider.
I have been a student of selling and sales management for more than twenty years, and I have used a grand total of five “closes” during that time. You must always remember that at some point in every sales discussion, you must “ASK” for the business. Here are brief descriptions of these five closes:
A financial close is the natural choice when you have successfully helped a prospect quantify the impact of their business problems. If the quantified impact of the business problems exceeds the investment required to solve the problems, a buying decision is easy to justify. The larger the difference is between the quantified impact and the required investment, the easier it is to close the sale.
Time Line Close
The Time Line close is effective when a product or service will impact a prospect’s project plan, especially if the purchasing decision is a prerequisite to other activities in the project plan. If you start with the desired project completion date, then backtrack through project milestones to the point where your company’s product or service should be added, in many cases you and the prospect will discover that an order should have been placed some time ago!
People have used this approach to find homes for puppies since the dawn of time. “Oh, why don’t you take the puppy home and see how the two of you get along? If you find it’s not working out for you, just bring the puppy back.”
Yeah, right – what percentage of the time do you think those cute little puppies are returned?
If having an opportunity to make “hands on” use of your product or service turns prospects into raving fans, your goal should be to do everything you can to make sure that (qualified) prospects have this opportunity. Once they start using your product or service, in many cases the only way to get it back will be to pry it from their cold, dead fingers. Cha-ching!
The Visual Close
Some prospects have a hard time making a buying decision, regardless of the attractiveness of the potential return on investment. For these people, the Visual Close can be very effective.
This Close involves drawing a vertical line down the middle of a sheet of paper, and a horizontal line that intersects the top of the vertical line. This creates a large “T” on the paper. On the left side of the “T”, you should write the word “For”. On the right side of the “T”, you should write the word “Against”.
Now you should suggest to the prospect that it might be helpful to make a list of all of the reasons both for and against acquiring your company’s product or service. Help the prospect create the longest possible list of entries in the “For” column. For the most part prospects should be allowed to populate the “Against” column by themselves. The primary exception is if there is an objection that comes up frequently, in which case you should proactively list the objection in the “Against” column…and then do your best to immediately resolve it!
The usual end result is a list of reasons in the “For” column that is much longer than the list of reasons in the “Against” column. Seeing this difference visually can help push a reluctant prospect over the decision-making hump.
In the Thermometer Close, you ask a prospect to rate their level of interest on a zero-to-ten scale. Zero means the prospect has no interest at all, and ten means they have already decided to buy.
If the prospect answers “Ten”, you’re done! Stop talking and write up the prospect’s order!
If the prospect’s answer is five or lower, you should ask, “Based upon what you’ve told me so far, I don’t understand why you say (score). Can you help me understand that?” The prospect’s answer will tell you what you need to do to advance the sales cycle.
If the prospect’s answer is a six or more, you should ask, “What do you need to see to get to ten?” Again, the prospect’s answer will tell you what you need to do.
One of the attractions of the Thermometer Close is it can be used repeatedly. As the prospect’s “temperature” rises, you can continue to ask, “What do you need to see to get to ten?” This is a nice, non-threatening way to get prospects to share issues that are preventing you from making sales.
Sales is about closing deals, and it is for the Sales professionals to decide which close is best suited, and these 5 can certainly help you to close deals and increase your bottom line revenue.
Author: Robert Kreksteinis a results-driven executive with 18 years of experience in both marketing and selling. He has demonstrated success in the creation and active management of aggressive marketing and sales plans. He is currently focusing on managing all marketing campaigns, Tele Vendors, and a direct sales force in North America to drive sales pipeline and demand generation through strategic marketing with proven results and a clear ROI.