Today's post focuses on the penultimate element of the buying/sales cycle - closing the deal, getting to "Yes"
You see, unless the person you are influencing offers an unconditional 'yes' to your proposals, you will need to do or say something that will generate a positive decision.
Here are two steps you can take towards getting a decision:
• Ask yourself 'How does this person normally go about making decisions?' Most people usually have a preferred way of making up their mind. Some people take their time to decide, others are happy to make snap decisions. You can sometimes push the latter, but you will need to tread more carefully with the former.
• Have a variety of ways in which you can stimulate a decision.
Spot the Signals - Verbal and Non-Verbal
Knowing when to ask for a decision can be critical. Ask too soon and you may frighten the other person off. Ask too late and you may miss your best chance. Watch for signals that suggest the other person is ready to decide:
• Leaning forward, seeming more interested and involved
• Head up, good eye contact
• Stroking chin thoughtfully
• Nodding or smiling in agreement with you
• Upward inflexion in voice tone
• Requesting more information
• Asking you to repeat some points you made earlier
• Making notes
• Asking 'What if ...' or 'Suppose ...' questions
• Checking guarantees, support, follow-up plans
• Picking up your written proposal and double checking aspects
• Discussing implementation details
Dealing with Ditherers
A good way of avoiding a decision is to say 'I want to think about it.'
Sometimes people do want time to think things through. But, very often, this can be an excuse or a put-off.
'What exactly do you want to think through? (Whatever you do - don't pause here!) Is it the implementation schedule? Is the bottom line? Is it the timing?'
Once you have isolated the real reason, you are much better placed to respond to the objection.
Going For "Yes"
'If you agree, shall we go ahead right away?'
If the answer is "no" ask: 'What's preventing you from going ahead?'
The Alternative Choice Question
This is less direct because you enable people to make a choice between two possible options.
'When would you like to start - Friday or shall we wait until Monday?'
'Which of these two do you prefer?'
'Which support contract is most appropriate for you - this one, or that one?'
The Minor Decision
Here, you ask people to make a decision about a relatively unimportant aspect of the proposal. If they give the go-ahead, the assumption is that they agree to the whole idea.
'Where do you want your logo to appear - at the top of the form or do you think it would look better in the bottom right hand corner?'
'By the way, how do you intend to resource the project?'
'How should we deal with the Southern branches?'
The Assumptive Question/Statement
This question/statement works well with people who need a continuous nudge towards decisions.
'After we start, I assume you'll want a monthly update?'
'You'll notice significant improvements immediately after we start.'
And Finally - The Benefit Summary
Some people like to hear a review of the benefits they will receive if they agree to your ideas. A quick list followed by a decision question often does the trick.
'Ok - let's summarize. After we've made the alterations you will notice that you have extra time available for other things, you'll start to save on budget and you'll have a happier work force. So, shall we go ahead?'
The very best sales professionals never think about the closing stages, because it all happens naturally - they totally satisfy all the "buying criteria" - but that only comes with experience, and practice.