In my quarterly newsletter last week I mentioned I’m finishing up my second book. Persuasive Selling is written for people in the insurance industry and should be available on Amazon by year-end. The book looks at the application of the principles of influence throughout the sales cycle and how to apply the psychology to different buying styles. Below is an excerpt from the chapter I’ve called Closing without “Closing”.
Nobody Wants to be Closed
What’s the number one reason we hold back in relationships? The fear of rejection. Nobody likes that feeling so we do what we can to avoid that possible self-inflicted wound. This is why so many people struggle when it comes to dating. It’s why people rank the fear of public speaking over death. And without question fear is the biggest reason salespeople are reluctant to ask for the sale. It’s safer for the ego to let the prospect “think it over and get back to you.”
Consider this: if you knew you would close every sale every time you would always ask for the sale! In fact, you’d probably look for every opportunity to get in front of as many people as possible. On the other end of the spectrum, if you didn’t give a darn what some stranger thought of you then you’d have no problem asking for the sale either. Obviously you don’t live in either extreme so what can you do?
- Separate rejection of your offer from you. When you realize a prospect is saying no to your offer it begins to remove the sting of rejection. Unless they really don’t like you (that would not be the case because you know how to leverage liking!) then it must have come down to something in your proposal.
- Get better at selling. The only way to move closer to 100% acceptance is by getting better at selling. I’m not so naive to think any price or protection plan can be sold but I do believe many more deals could be closed if salespeople did a better job incorporating the principles of influence when talking to customers. Why else do some salespeople close sales that you might never think possible?
In their uncertainty, prospects generally do one of two things: 1) take the safe route and don’t change anything, or 2) go with the salesperson who fearlessly asked them if they could start on the paperwork.
The number one question salespeople ask is this: “What’s the best way to close?” When I’m asked about closing my standard response is, “The best way to close starts the moment you meet a prospect for the first time, look him or her in the eye and shake hands.” That sets the stage and from that point forward however easy or difficult closing the sale is depends on what you do. I believe closing the sale should just be a natural part of the ongoing conversation with a prospective customer. The best compliment a salesperson can hear from a client is, “I never felt like I was being sold.”
Early on in this book I quoted Jeffrey Gitomer, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” Tapping into liking early and often will make a big difference by the time you ask for the business. Always start your contact with a prospect on a social level bonding over things you have in common and looking for opportunities to offer genuine compliments.
The more you’ve done for the prospect and the more you’ve gone out of your way on their behalf, the more likely they are to look for some way to give back to you. If you’re unable to close the deal for some reason you might still leverage all you’ve done as a way to get some referrals because of reciprocity.
Of course, people want to know they’re doing business with an expert because it gives them more confidence in their decision. As you make your way through the sales process, show yourself to be professional and someone your prospects can rely on for answers when they need them. In short, tap into authority. Mentioning the clients who are like them, those that you already do business with, taps into consensus and makes you look like even more of an authority.
All of these principles serve to reinforce why the prospect has made their way to this point with you. It’s very likely both of you have invested a lot of time and effort up to this point. Now it becomes especially important to tap into consistency and scarcity.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.