How Do You Know When to Close a Sale?
My long awaited retail sales training book The Retail Sales Bible will be released at the beginning of March. This book is a collaboration between myself and Dr. Matthew Hudson, Ph.D. It is considered to be the most comprehensive yet concise book ever published on retail selling. It is easy to understand, user friendly, and written in a way that makes the materials stick. The following is an excerpt from the book and your feedback is always welcomed.
How Do You Know When to Close a Sale?
There are certain signs or signals that we look for – there are verbal and non-verbal signs. First let’s examine the verbal signals. When a customer says any of the following expressions we know it is a verbal sign to start closing the sign.
Now are the non-verbal signs.
- “I really like this one.”
- “How much is it?”
- “This really feels good.”
- “This just feels right.”
- “I see what you mean.”
- “Good suggestion.”
- “This is just what I was looking for.”
- “This goes great with _____.”
- “Do you deliver?”
- When a customer is smiling
- When they touch or hold the merchandise
- When they are nodding their head in approval
- When they start to demonstrate excited body posture
- When you see them grabbing their cell phone to call family or friends
When any of these things occur, you start closing that sale and making sure that item is solidly sold. A common error is when a salesperson starts to suggest an add-on item before the first item is a completed sale. When you start to make another suggestion without tying up the loose ends, you are running the risk of losing the initial sale. Make sure the first item is sold before attempting any add-ons. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you have to technically ring up a sale but you have to feel secure that the item is sold.
The next step in closing the sale is the use of “tie downs.” A “tie down” is a way to gently direct the customer to agree with the positive benefits of the product. You want the customer to agree with you and simply say “yes.” The following are a few examples of the “tie downs.”
- “This accessory is everything you asked for, isn’t it?”
- “The price is even better than you expected, wouldn’t you agree?”
- “You will certainly get your wear out of it, don’t you think?”
- “That mirror will give you the views you wanted, can’t you see that?”
- “This will be one of the best deals you ever got, don’t you agree?”
- “You family is going to love it, don’t you think?”
- “Tie downs” are easy to use, aren’t they?”
- “I think you get the idea about “tie downs”, wouldn’t you agree?”
Part of closing a sale is answering objections. Rule number 1 about when a customer makes an objection is to always compliment them for their objection, by simply saying something like:
- “You bring up a good point.”
- “That’s a good idea, I am glad you said that.”
- “I didn’t think of that, let’s discuss it.”
Remember that customers are going out to shop because it feels good; shopping is a feel good experience. When a customer disagrees with something, they might expecting some types of confrontation. When you compliment the objection you have diffused any possible minor hostilities. One of the best techniques to use in overcoming objections is a technique referred to as the four “F’s.” They stand for feel – felt – found – felt. The four “F’s” are used in a scenario where the customer is confused or not quite ready to make a commitment (of course you could be dealing with that “wishy-washy” customer who is afraid to make a decision). This how it goes: “I know how you feel about making a big decision about buying this ______. I felt the same way, but I found (here’s a place you can use your own experience to relate with the customer). After I made the decision I really felt so much better.”
Sometimes by just asking that, you can come back with a rebuttal. But if nothing else, you are able to better understand the customer, and if a particular objection continues to keep coming up it is something that must be addressed at the store. What happens when a customer says “the prices are too high”? Then you make a suggestion of looking at a less expensive item. Whatever you do, do not start negotiating price with the customer at this point. You might have to adjust the price later on, but this is not the place to do it.
When the customer says “I want to think it over” your next line should be “Excellent idea. Now tell me exactly what you wanted to think over.” By just asking that, sometimes you can reveal the true reasons why they are not buying. Even if this doesn’t help in making the sale, it will give you valuable information about various products. When a customer objects to the product, take the path of least resistance and simply show them another product. If you know the original product is the best option, don’t be afraid to re-introduce that product again later in the sale.
When does a salesperson become a salesperson? The answer is when the customer says “no.” Sometimes we need to just make the decision for the customer when they are afraid to make a commitment. We step forward and say, “This is what we’re going to do.”
When a customer is being unreasonable, the line to use is: “I wish we could”.
When the customer says “it’s not in the budget,” the salesperson smiles or chuckles a little and says “a budget is only an estimate. Some things are going to come in higher and some things are going to be lower. In this case you are a little higher.”
One of the classic types of closing techniques is referred to as The Benjamin Franklin. That is when you have a clean sheet of paper and draw a line in the center. Put the pros on one side and the cons on the other. In other words, the reasons to buy are on one side and on the other side are the reasons not to buy. Make sure when you are doing this, there are more reasons to buy than not to buy.
The last type of close is specifically designed for the status seeking customer and that is when you simply use the line “everybody’s buying it.” For some people, keeping up with what is hot and trendy is the most important thing. Just be careful where to use it but remember closing the sale should be as natural as possible. The goal is to sell people what they want, need--even when they don’t realize that they want or need it.