Closing Sales

The selling tactics followed affect the ease of closing the sale. Low-pressure sales are closed more easily than are high-pressure ones. In low-pressure sales, prospects feel that they are reaching the buying decisions themselves, and primarily through rational processes of thought, so there is no need for extra push just before the sales are consummated. In high-pressure sales, the main thrust is to the prospects’ emotions, so salespersons attempt to propel prospects into buying decisions. Often, the prospect regains nor­mal perspective as the sale nears its climax, and, if this happens, the sales­person needs unusually effective persuasion to close the sale.

Every salesperson approaches certain closings with apprehension. At closing time, either the salesperson sells the prospect an order or the pros­pect sells the salesperson on a “no sale.” Closing time provides an oppor­tunity to register tangible proof of selling skill. Occasionally even the best salesperson must rely upon closing skill to make the sale.

Prospecting, if well done, puts the salesperson in the proper frame of mind for the close. The salesperson feels that a real service is being per­formed for the prospect, not that “a bill of goods is being sold.” There is no doubt that the product is the best solution to the prospect’s problems.

When the sales presentation is complete and clear, no difficulty is met in closing the sale. All obstacles to the sale and all objections have been removed, to the prospect’s entire satisfaction. Basic agreement has been reached, and the prospect is ready to accept the proposal.

But even after an excellent presentation, and in spite of thorough pros­pecting, some prospects refrain from positive commitments. The natural ten­dency of many people is to let inertia guide their reactions—many are happy to leave things as they are, and salespersons leave empty-handed unless they jolt these prospects into buying. The skilled closer gives the extra push that triggers a buying response. But failures to get an order result as much from poor prospecting and inept presentations as from ineffective closing.

When an attempted close fails, the salesperson should normally try another. The refusal does not necessarily imply an unwillingness to buy; it may indicate the prospect’s need for additional information or for clari­fication of some point. Some executives recommend that sales personnel attempt as many as five closes before giving up. Early closing attempts should be so expressed that a refusal will not cut off the presentation. A salesperson judges the sincerity of a prospect’s refusal, surrendering grace­fully when it is clear that no sale will be made.

The salesperson first uses an indirect close, that is, attempts to get the order without actually asking for it. The salesperson may ask the prospect to state a preference from among a limited number of choice (as to models, delivery dates, order size, or the like), so phrasing the question that all possi­ble responses are in the salesperson’s favor except for one: “None at all.” Or the salesperson may summarize, emphasizing features that visibly impress the prospect, showing how the reasons for the purchase outweigh those opposed to it. Then the salesperson pauses for the prospect’s response, which is expected to be, “Go ahead and write the order.” Sometimes, the extra push may be a concession that makes the purchase sufficiently more attractive to make the sale. Or the salesperson may assume that the sale is made, write out the order, and hand it to the prospect for approval—if the prospect balks, the issue is clearer. Perhaps one last objection is voiced, but after it is answered, the sale is made. Many indirect closes are in common use, and books on selling contain numerous examples.

When one or more attempts at an indirect close fail, the salesperson uses the direct approach. Few prospects respond negatively to a frank request for the order. In fact, many people, especially those who are them­selves engaged in selling, do not buy unless the order is asked for outright.

Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.

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