Mueller - After the presentation -- close the sale

Friday, December 13, 2002

All too often, a nearly perfect sales presentation fails in the final stretch. If we are not asking for the sale, we may not get it.

First and foremost, we must understand what our customers want and need. In order to know this we need to qualify them thoroughly.

At Dale Carnegie Training, we find out the "As Is" -- what is going on now, in the present. Then we uncover the "Should Be" -- how things should look or be, or operate after the solution has been implemented. We must find out the "Barriers" -- what is preventing the company currently from solving its own problems.

The "Payout" comes last -- what will happen for our client when we provide our solutions (products or services) for their company. Or what will happen if the customer does not buy the service or product.

We need to uncover the customer's motives for buying. Selling is really about solving problems and creating positive results for our customers.

A presentation has to be made by the sales professional on what product or service he or she recommends to the customer. After this, we can use a trial close. A trial close does not ask for a buying decision from the customer. We are using a nonthreatening question to test the customer's reaction to a specific aspect of the presentation.

This reaction to the trial close question helps clarify the customer's position on what was just presented. Examples: How does this sound: Is this in step with what you are looking for? How will a two-hour response time from us affect your costs and productivity? It can be something as simple as: Any concerns thus far?

Salespeople need to be able to read body language and voice inflections. And, we must recognize when a prospect says or does something that indicates that the prospect may have moved further from a favorable position regarding buying. Certain signals in the trial close may lead the salesperson back through the sales process or may require further probing of the customers' needs.

There are many types of final closing techniques. One is the assumptive close. Making a statement that assumed the customer has made a buying decision uses this. Example: I have scheduled delivery for tomorrow morning, Mr. Jones.

The direct close is straightforward. Once we have generated interest, presented a solution, and discussed motive, the best way to gain a prospect's commitment is to ask for it. Example: May I write this up for you?

And the alternate choice close presents two options for the client's choice. Example: Will this be cash or credit? Would you like the red or the blue one?

The minor point close relates to a relatively unimportant feature of the product .This may sound like: Since the trim will match your other appliances so well, let's write it up.

The special opportunity close stresses urgency. Example: We only have three of these left. I will write it up now to make sure you get one. This is useful when a product is limited in quantity or when a product or service is available only for a limited time.

We should always close with casual confidence, and do not change after we begin closing. Finish with the type of close we start with. A good tip: use a planned pause, allow the customer to think, react and agree. To quote Daryl Perkins, a Dale Carnegie sales instructor, "After a closing question, he who speaks first loses."

Expert sellers agree that it takes practice and a commitment to following a process to successfully close the sale. Throw in some preparation and we will all have the successful recipe for effective closing and making the sale.

Sharon Mueller is the regional manager for Dale Carnegie Training. Dale Carnegie Training recently partnered with Metro Business College in Cape Girardeau. To find out more about this partnership and course offerings, call Mueller at 332-0900 or email at

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