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Closing the sale

September 1st, 2010 / By: / Graphics

In more than 50 years of being involved in selling goods and services to both music and textile users, I am hard pressed to simplify my thoughts into a few basic ingredients. Selling is all about relationships. For me, closing the sale commences at the time I begin prospecting.

What am I selling? Who is my client? Do I have what they need? Where and how are they going to use it? When do they need it?

Your enthusiasm in selling a single display banner versus 10,000 might cause different answers to the above. Further, your attention to a $50 sale might be quite different than to a $5,000 or $50,000 sale. In the same way, the road you travel to get you to a close will vary in your approach.

1. Build confidence. Having a true interest in the needs of your client must be predominant throughout your presentation. Trying to sell something versus providing a product or service meeting a specific need of the client must be at the forefront of reaching your sales goal. Look at people attempting to sell you something. Can you differentiate between a sales pitch and those that truly attempt to service your specific need?

I have an old friend from my music days, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, who has dedicated himself to changing lives of students throughout the country. Dr. Tim has spent more than 30 years developing our youth through his “It’s All In Your Attitude” workshops and seminars. The title may have changed through the years, but the message is clear: it is truly all in your attitude. Sincerity builds confidence. Confidence closes sales.

2. Have the feel. As a manufacturer of custom exhibits, we are building one-of-a-kind products through phone sales efforts. As our company grew in its offerings, we found it necessary to include in-person sales calls. Having a global presence, we travel more to our client’s site than them to us. In either case (phone or in person), gaining a “feel” for the situation becomes an instinct. If you don’t have it, get it. If you truly want to develop your feel, do it via phone.

How? Refer back to step 1. When did you gain that certain feeling in a relationship where you knew without the other person speaking that you both were on the same wave length and that there was a confidence developing? This is truly the same sense that one needs to develop to be a confident closer.

3. Ask for the order. We are in the midst of renewing a lease. The following is an excerpt from a recent communication with our vendor: “We have really enjoyed our partnership with you over the years and hope we can continue to work together for at least the next 10 years. It is really exciting and impressive to see how your business has grown.” This is a great example of a soft sell. Knowing the individual, you would understand that this was not only a sincere expression, but one that was most timely, as his last comment before a decision was to be made. (Yes, we did renew the lease.)

For our firm, delivery requirements pretty much dictate when an order might have to be placed, and in turn a requirement of a confirmed purchase. Thus, working on a “soft” approach would be stating what the client needs to do in order for you to fulfill their needs.

This is an oversimplification and there is much more to this. But, it all ties in. Step 3 will not happen unless steps 1 and 2 are met.

4. Don’t talk too much. Remember the line from the movie “Jerry McGuire:” “You had me at hello!”? How many times have you seen a sales opportunity flubbed because the seller didn’t know when to stop talking? When you gain affirmation, the next question is, “When do you need it?”

I’ll stop writing now…

Pat Hayes is founder and chairman of Fabric Images, Elgin, Ill., a member of the Fabric Graphics Association and a director on the board of the Industrial Fabrics Association International.

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