Closing the Sale
Empathy is an intimate understanding of the feelings, thoughts, and motives of another. That's why empathy is of prime importance in professional selling. Empathy is putting yourself into the prospect's shoes. It's knowing and feeling what your prospect is feeling. It's knowing exactly how to proceed depending on the information the prospect has given you.
Until you develop empathy for your customers, until you develop the skill of calling for and getting a favorable agreement that sales people call consummation, you probably won't make it in selling. The customer should sense that you understand and care about helping them solve their problems, not that you are just looking for a sale.
As a professional salesperson, you must truly believe that you can satisfy the prospect's needs. You must see the benefits, features, and limitations of your product or service from your prospect's view; you must weigh things on the prospect's scale of values, not your own; you must realize what is important to the prospect. Your prospect must always be the star of the show.
Focusing on your prospect enables you to answer the crucial question in any selling situation: When should you consummate the sale?
Watch for signs that a deal is near
There's a certain electricity in the air when the prospect is ready to go ahead, but here are some positive buying signs to watch for:
- The prospects have been moving along at a smooth pace, and suddenly they slow the pace way down. They're making their final analysis or rationalizing the decision.
- They speed up the pace. They're excited to move ahead.
- Suddenly, they start asking lots of questions. Like anyone else, they ask questions only about things that interest them.
- They ask questions about general terms of purchase before they settle on one particular model. Some people immediately start asking questions about initial investment, delivery, and so on. They feel safe doing this because they know you can't sell them everything. If they ask these questions after you know exactly what they want, it's positive stimulus.
Go for a test consummation after you get positive stimulus. If you think that your customers are ready to consummate the sale, try a test question to make sure you are reading the stimulus correctly. As you get more experience in selling, you will become more proficient at reading body language and other buying signals. This skill can be good and bad for you.
Don't short-change the process
Some people start relying so much on positive readings that they short cut other vital steps such as qualifying or demonstration. When you shortchange the overall selling cycle, it's hard to go back and restore the steps you skipped. Invariably, shortcutting steps causes you to lose many sales. Although it is important to become better at knowing when to consummate the sale, each prospect should get your full presentation to make sure you don't come up short at the end.
When you ask a question from which you expect an answer confirming that the prospect wants to go ahead with the purchase, you want one of two things to happen:
- The prospect gives you a yes or an answer that indirectly confirms their desire to go ahead with the sale.
- The prospect gives you an objection or asks for more information to enable them to make a decision.
If you start talking before the prospect answers, you lose control of the negotiations. And you gain nothing. You have neither a confirmation to go ahead nor an objection; you wasted your attempt to consummate the sale.
Would you like delivery on the 15th or the 30th? They pause to think when would be the best time to have the product delivered. You get uncomfortable with the silence and think, They must be thinking they don't want it. Then you panic and say, Okay, how about if I give you another 5% off? — when the total investment wasn't what the prospect was considering in the first place. That's why you always wait for them to respond before you speak, after asking your consummation question, and why it is so important to keep quiet after you ask your final consummation question. If you have a big mouth, this would be the time to put your foot in it — literally — to keep yourself quiet.
If you start looking around or fidgeting, you distract the customer and let them know how uncomfortable you are. Neither of these scenarios helps you move toward a successful consummation. Try to focus your stress in a way that they will not see or recognize it as a nervous action. For example, recite the ABCs backward to yourself, or wiggle your toes — they can't see that, either. Your stress-release can be that simple.