Types of Closing Techniques
To close a sale successfully, you need to be able to determine your prospect's situation, understand the prospect's attitude and be prepared to select a closing technique from several that are available. These closing techniques can be used to ask your prospect for the order:
Ask for it
The best way to get an order is to ask for it. If you have delivered an effective presentation and you have convinced the buyer, ask for the order. Prospects expect you to ask for it. Do not disappoint them.
The alternative choice close
This technique does not give the prospect a choice of buying or not buying. Instead, it asks which one or how many items a customer wants to buy. The more alternatives available, the harder it is for buyers to make a decision. By offering the prospects choices of which alternative to select, rather than a choice of buying or not buying, you are increasing the chance of a positive response. Here are some examples:
- Do you prefer bright or dark colours?
- Any of these three would suit you. Am I right?
- Mr van Tonder, which model would you prefer, the aluminium or the zinc chrome?
- Mr Jones, would you prefer our single payment plan or our installment programme?
If used correctly, the alternative choice close is a very effective technique. It provides a choice between something and something and not between something and nothing.
The Assumptive Choice
This technique is based on attitude. It works on the assumption that the prospect will buy and that only the details need to be worked out. A nod, a grunt or even silence signifies agreement. A word of warning: do not use it after a strong objection or a "not interested" comment until all objections have been properly handled and positive agreement reached.
The Compliment Close
This is effective when you are talking to a prospect who is a self-styled expert, who has a big ego or who is in a bad mood. This type of prospect usually values his own opinions very highly. By complimenting him, you get him to listen and respond more favourably. This close will also work well with a person with low self-esteem. The compliment must be genuine, as most people can detect insincerity.
The Summary Close
The summary close involves reviewing the benefits and getting the buyer's agreement. The technique is to summarise the benefits already discussed in a positive manner so that the prospect agrees and then asks for the order. Summary closes can be more sophisticated than merely recounting the benefits if the situation warrants.
The Continuous Yes Close
This is also know as the Continuous Affirmative Close. IT is like the summary close, however, instead of summarising product benefits, the salesperson develops a series of benefit questions which the prospect must answer. This close has also been described as "building a yes staircase". By stringing together a number of positive questions, you keep the prospect continually saying "yes". The prospect is now placed in a positive frame of mind. The positive stance towards the product makes it likely that the prospect will continue to say "yes" when asked to buy.
The Minor Point Close
It is sometimes much easier for a prospect to concede several minor points about a product than to make a sweeping decision on whether or not to buy. By getting the prospect to make decisions on minor points you can lead the decision to buy.
The T-Account Close
This technique is based on the routine that people go through when they make a decision. It is also known as the Benjamin Franklin close. It is a process of weighing the "no" answers against the "yes" answers, much like a balance sheet with debits and credits. On a sheet of paper, the salesperson draws a large T, placing "to act" (asset) on the left-hand side and "not to act" (liability) on the right-hand side. The salesperson reviews the presentation with the prospect, listing the positive features, advantages and benefits as well as all the negative points. The aim is to show that the product's benefits outweigh its liabilities and to lead the prospect to the conclusion that now is the time to buy.
The Modified T-Account Close
Some salespeople prefer a modified form of the T-account method because they do not feel that it is beneficial to discuss negative points. In this case they list only the advantages or reasons to act in one column.
The Standing-Room-Only Close
This close involves pointing out that the product may not be available if the prospect delays the decision. For the right product, person and situation, this is an excellent close, however, it should only be used in compete honesty.
The Boomerang Close
This technique involves turning the prospect's major objections for not buying into the reason why he or she should buy immediately. It is especially effective in meeting objections not strongly backed by facts.
The Emotional Close
This closing technique appeals specifically to the emotions, such as pride, prestige or status. It is usually used in a positive manner. It should be used with the highest ethical considerations, especially when based on fear, and should be used when the prospect genuinely needs the benefits, can afford them and has no real or valid objections.
This method is applied when the salesperson cites by name those buyers who rate highly in the prospect's opinion. Showing copies or orders from your own order book is convincing proof of your claims.
The Narrative Close
The closing point can be restated very convincingly in the form of a story that relates a situation similar to that of the prospect. The purpose of the story is tactfully to drive home the point that the prospect would be unwise to delay his or her decision.
This technique helps to uncover any doubt that may be holding up the final affirmative decision. Here the salesperson asks the prospect in a straightforward manner what reasons, if any, he has for not acting immediately. The prospect's reply determines the salesperson's course of action.
It is important for the salesperson to keep at least one strong sales point up his sleeve for emergency use. Bring this sales point up at a point where the prospect don't expect it.
Very often an extra push is necessary to secure final agreement. On some occasions a salesman may be able to offer a special concession as an inducement for an immediate affirmative decision.
Blem, N. (1997). Achieving Excellence in Selling - The South African Approach. Halfway House: International Thomson Publishing (Southern Africa) (Pty) Ltd