Close your prospects on the spot.
If there is one key thing any sales person have to, no let me rephrase, MUST Do is to learn to close your prospect right there and then.
This was a lesson I learnt from my manager back when I was still doing financial planning. But being new to sales then, I didn’t quite understand what she was trying to tell me.
After all, I’m there to help my clients, I’m not there to “push” them into buying something they didn’t need right?
Fast forward 5 years later to today and I’ll tell this now…
My ex-manager is right. It doesn’t matter if you’re a financial planner, real estate agent, a freelancer, entrepreneur, or any other kind of sales rep… you need to close your prospects on the spot.
While the different industries will have a slight variation to the actual execution, the idea is still the same…
You either close your prospect at the very first chance you have or you risk losing the sale altogether.
A Sales Story of $899 Transferred to His Competitor
Recently I was at SITEX (I.T. exhibition in Singapore) searching for a new CPU for my home office. Truth be told, I have no idea what to look out for in a CPU, so one of the best ways for me to learn is by speaking to the sales rep on site.
If you’ve been to any exhibition halls you’ll be familiar with the scene…
Stalls and booths set up in rows and columns, promoters walking around distributing flyers, others standing on stage screaming into the microphone about their hourly specials.
And the worst are the sales rep throwing their flyers into your face as you walk past their stalls.
But back to my point about sales…
I decided to approach the Acer booth to find out more about what to look for in a CPU. As a sales person myself, I tend to be more sympathetic to these reps since I’ve been there and done it before. More importantly, I wanted to listen to the sales script and process they were using.
Sadly, he missed a golden opportunity from me right there!
If you ever have the chance, it is a good learning experience to actually try selling at an exhibition. (Not recommended for you to open a booth yourself though as it can be costly and ROI may not be there depending on your industry)
You will see all kinds of prospects at such events and your goal is to draw as many of them into your sales funnel as possible.
In this case, this first sales rep failed to do that.
To be fair, he did do a number of good things which we can all learn from but he failed to do the most important thing…
Close me on the spot!
The Series of Follow-Up Questions That Leads To You Getting the Sale
Throughout my conversation with him, he was very much an order taker. I’ll ask him about what this spec on the brochure means and he’ll answer my questions.
Tip: First question you want to find out is why your prospect is looking for a solution
When you take a good look at any kind of sales formula, the process is always the same. You want to find out your prospects’ challenges to capture their attention.
So when I told him I was looking for a CPU, the first thing he should have done was asked what was my purpose. In most cases, it would either be for gaming or for work.
Once he had that information, then he could ask me what sort of files or programs I’ll be running. If you are familiar with CPUs you’ll know that designers and videographers need a stronger system to process their files.
That means you could sell the more expensive version. (This is all part of pricing strategy to get sales)
In my case I just needed one for office use. So space might be a consideration which he could have asked to get me interested in what he has to offer.
Instead he committed a common mistake most first-time sales person makes…
He assumed price was my main consideration.
Why Most Sales Rep Unknowingly Short-Change Themselves
Because he didn’t know what was my goal and intent… he jumped straight into the promotional product on display.
As they had different models with a $400 difference in price, he was probably trying his luck to get me to buy the cheaper model.
Tip: Your prospects rarely know what they want and need
Eugene Schwaltz had created a powerful system any sales person should familiarise themselves with. He calls it the 5 stages of Market Sophistication.
In short, he talks about the different level of awareness your market has about your product and solution.
(For those interested, there’s a good copywriting book which teaches you how to use the 5 stages in your sales copywriting. You can grab a copy from Amazon here.)
When you know which stage your market (and prospect) is at, you can tailor your sales script to match them exactly and get the sale.
In my case, I was at the product stage, I know what solution I wanted but I didn’t know enough about the solution, hence getting a sales rep to help me.
So when he told me the cheaper model should be good enough for me, I would be more inclined to believe him. And if I had bought it there and then, he just lost the chance to make an additional $400 of sales.
However as I wanted to connect my CPU to 2 different monitors, I needed a splitter which they didn’t have. So I told him I’ll walk around first to see if I can get one.
He agreed and he did something really good here. He wrote down on my brochure his name, phone number and his booth location. He also told me when I come back to find him and he can get me a better promotional price.
Tip: Make it as easy as possible for your prospects to buy
Sometimes an objection will arise which is completely out of your control and it makes closing almost impossible. In such cases, your goal is to make it easy for your prospect to buy from you.
And he did an amazing job here.
Unfortunately as he didn’t have what I needed, he failed to close me on the spot.
As a result, I walked around, got the splitter but chanced upon the ASUS booth, and as all my laptops were from ASUS I just had to stop and take a look. (Branding strategy can be very powerful in creating loyal customers, it is the reason APPLE is doing so well with their iphones and macbooks)
Similar process but as I’ve been “educated” by the previous ACER sales rep, I now know what I wanted to get. And I’ve been shifted to the “most aware” stage. That means I’m just looking for the best price or offer.
So when you are giving your sales pitch, the key is to close your prospect as soon as you can. The lower their awareness level, the more education you have to do. And the last thing you want is to educate your prospect to buy from your competitor.
It so happens that right now, I’m writing this post from my brand new ASUS CPU.
The same situation happens everyday. Hardworking sales rep taking the time to carefully explain how their product works, all the amazing features, and the promotion they’re running.
But without bringing the message of why this is important to your prospect, you might just be handing the sale over to your competitor who is running a better “promotion” than you.