Here is a very good article by Meridith Powell. There is no doubt that listening skills feature as number one. If you listen correctly and can react correctly you should get the sale.
Especially in this economy, so many of my clients and people I meet at speaking engagements are asking “how do I close more sales?” They share the struggles they are having getting customers to commit, and I agree it is more challenging in this day and age then it has probably been in the last ten years.
It is more challenging now, because consumers are more cautious, they have more options and they want value for the money they are spending and time they are investing. It is more challenging now, because we are truly selling. For the last ten years or so it has truly been a sellers market. Meaning, that cash and credit were plenty, people wanted to buy, and no one seem to be too worried about the need to save or over abundance. With the crash of the housing market, failure of the banks, and rise in unemployment all that has changed.
Does that mean you can’t close sales right now, or that you can’t grow a business? Absolutely not! In fact, if you truly understand relationships and know how to sell (build relationships, listen to consumers, and add value and build trust) it is one of the best times!
However, you are right, it is more challenging then ever to close the deal and get consumers to commit. As you have heard me say before, there is no magic bullet, no perfect saying that gets consumers to all of a sudden say YES. The close comes simply by doing your job on the front end. Preparing for the call, asking great questions, really listening to the consumer, and following up. If the consumer will not close the deal, then most likely there is a break down in your system (that is why we track and measure, so we can learn where the deal is getting stuck or why it will not close.)
There is a great book called “Get Clients Now” in which author CJ Hayden lays out some reasons you may struggle to get the consumer to close.
1. You are not using the right words – consumers don’t understand how you can help them.
2. Your phone skills are not up to speed – you are nervous or unprepared when you get on the phone, and aren’t able to engage people in the conversation.
3. The prospects you are talking to are not qualified – they don’t have a need, can’t pay or are not at a point where what you offer is their top priority.
4. You aren’t well-known enough – have not been recommended – prospects have a lot of choices, your lack of image and recommendations will hinder your ability to close the deal
5. Your competition seems to have the market locked up – your prospects are being well-served by others
6. You are offering what you think your prospects need instead of what they think they need – you are solving the wrong problem
7. Your packaging doesn’t make sense or work for your prospect – you may be charging by the hour and they want to pay a flat fee, or your prospects wants to start with one or two of your services and you are offering only a full package.
8. You are offering so many products or services your customer is confused trying to figure how what exactly you do or how you can help.
I think an inability to close sales always comes down to one thing, your ability to listen. If you want to close sales, you need to figure out why (listen) your prospect isn’t buying, and then adjust your approach based on that reason.