The Psychology of Closing

It is actually a twofold process: a) Don't talk too much; and b) Ask lots of questions so they are the ones doing all the talking.

When we ask lots of questions, particularly if they are open-ended (the most effective type), we experience several positive byproducts. First, our prospects have the opportunity to tell us exactly what their needs are. In sales, using questions to acquire this kind of information is often called "uncovering the hot button." How can you solve your prospects' problems if you don't know what their "hot buttons" are? This is key information if you are to turn your prospects into long-term raving fans.

The truth is, most people only have one or two key reasons for buying, and the more you talk, the more you diffuse the transaction's energy. The more you talk, the more wind you also take out of your sales. Your prospects really just wanted to come get a good deal; they didn't come to hear your discourse on the whole product line. Information overload is just going to overwhelm and confuse your prospects, and as the old sales adage goes, "A confused mind says 'NO'!"

As soon as your prospects are the ones grilling you, the tables have turned. You lost control. Consider the following question/answer scenarios and you'll see clearly that the individual asking the questions has control, while, perhaps surprisingly, the one doing all the talking does not have control: an employer interviewing for a job opening, a doctor preparing to diagnose a patient and an attorney questioning a witness. Your prospects want to feel that you have their best interest at heart and that you are mindful of their needs. Genuine interest will explode your ability to develop a relationship of trust and solidifying rapport.

The fifth reason for using questions in your selling strategy is that in discussing the issues that are important to your prospects, they are drawn more proactively into the conversation and thus become emotionally involved. Why do I consider an emotionally engaged prospect a positive, even necessary, thing? Emotions drive actions; they are the catalysts to closed deals. Emotions, however, provide the initial ignition. They incite action. Some buying personalities will be more logically inclined, but as a general rule, an emotionally engaged individual is much more compelled to purchase. In a nutshell, all buying decisions are emotional, while logic rationalizes the purchasing decision.

Another key component of successful closing psychology is the importance of acting with authority. This does not mean that you are arrogant or condescending toward your prospects. Your prospects have a need and they want it fulfilled competently. Think of a time when you were faced with an important buying decision. You could even look at the seller-buyer relationship as a student-teacher relationship. You are the doctor of sales. Hand in hand with the need to act with authority is the need to be assumptive. Assumption relates especially to the final stage of your close, when you're waiting to hear your prospect's final decision. Many salespeople hate this part of the selling transaction. How do you think this type of demeanor makes your prospects feel? Remember, a confused mind says "no."

If you're this type of salesperson, you've got to talk yourself through the process. Prospective buyers clearly want to buy; after all the time and energy they spend on trying to make a decision, they want you to confirm that their decision to purchase is a good one. You have to assume the sale. In other words, in your mind, it's already a done deal. By acting assumptive, you yourself will feel confident and more at ease, and consequently, you'll make your prospect feel much more comfortable, too. Once there, the dentist agrees that the tooth needs to come out. The man asks the dentist how much it will cost. The old man yelps and yells, "Two hundred fifty dollars to pull out a tooth?!!" The dentist smiles and says, "If it's the time you are worried about, I can take as long as you want." When planning and preparing your call to action, remember that the process does not have to be long and painful. The final component of successful closing psychology that I'm going to discuss here is the need for persistence. Calvin Coolidge said,

Successful people always have high levels of persistence, and don't give up until they have reached their objective. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Un-rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Persistence, determination and hard work make the difference.

Successful closing comes down to numbers. Only by sifting and sorting through X number of prospects will you secure Y number of deals. In the sales industry, even amongst the most seasoned professionals, a 20 percent close rate is considered very successful. The question is, are most people persistent enough to make ten calls to get two winners? The answer is no, most people are not. Their first prospect falls through and they are distraught. That just isn't how the sales game works, however. The second part of persistence is not giving up prematurely.

You would be surprised how many sales come through because a rep approaches the prospect one more time. In light of this, it is more surprising still that over 70 percent of salespeople don't re-approach their prospect after the initial rejection. A lot of times when we get that initial "no," we just accept it because we assume the prospect has thought it through and come to an educated conclusion. People forget or get distracted. As you practice your closing skills, you'll become more and more adept at discerning the fine line between persistence and annoyance. My general rule of thumb is that if you detect even the remotest hint of interest, keep up your persistence.

Prospects can detect this nuance in your behavior, and nothing makes them run faster. Anytime a prospect senses your uneasiness, they will become equally uneasy, even if they are not sure why. In the sales industry, desperation showing through in your game is called "selling hungry." To help you understand exactly how desperation comes across to your prospects, think of the age-old reference to "wolves in sheep's clothing." Natural, positive and assumptive are your best bets in a persuasive situation.


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