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There are three closing techniques which I know work well. Although I’ve written articles about each of them, today I’d like to discuss all three and how you can use all of them in the same presentation. The use of these is determined by your progress into the sales process.
The one to use earliest in the sales process is the alternate advance close. You may have read my recently published article about three-option selling, which is a form of the alternate advance. This close is a very simple technique of offering the prospect two options, both of which require a “yes” answer. I might say, “Mr. Jones, if you decided to move forward with our program, would you like to have that terminal shipped out overnight to get the next day? Or would you be okay to get the terminal in five business days?” You may adjust your wording or aggression according to the sales process. If you feel like you’ve clinched the sale, then you wouldn’t use the phrase “if you decided to move forward.” Rather, just use the closing question. There are obviously many other questions which would also apply to the sale. “Do you want to have tip prompt on your terminal or not?” is an example.
You can use these questions early in the sales process by adding buffer words to them, such as, “If you decided to move forward…” or “Let’s say hypothetically that we did end up moving forward with this, would you like…” The alternate advance question can sometimes help move the sales process forward if used early. Whether used early in the process with buffers or used later at close, the alternate advance is a “yes,” “yes” question.
As you progress further into the sales process, you can use what I call the paperwork close. This is helpful when you feel like the prospect is going through with the sale, but you aren’t 100% sure of getting a “yes” answer right now. In order to properly execute this closing technique, you almost need to practice like an actor to figure out how you’ll do it. Personally, I had a small leather-bound book like a portfolio notebook where I had a stack of papers. As I pulled out the papers I said, “Mr. Jones, if you don’t mind, I just want to take some notes real quick. What is the actual legal name of the company?” I prefer that starting question. (I found it embarrassing to ask, “How do you spell your last name?” and hear the response, “J-o-n-e-s.”) Usually the legal name is a little different than the name on the store; it might be a limited liability company or an s corporation, etc. Pull out the papers and begin taking notes.
If you’re selling merchant services, you will come to the point of asking for personal information such as social security number and bank information as you move through the paperwork. By this point in the sales process, you should be ready to close the deal. My personal method is to turn the paperwork toward the client while saying, “All I need you to do here is just complete this part of the paperwork.” Slide the paper to the client, point to the section, hand him/her a pen, and make sure you look back down at your notebook. I always have my notebook and pretend to be busy with my notes, or look at my calendar, or pull out my phone. This gives the client time to review and complete the paperwork. If you stare at the client during this time, he/she probably will not fill out the paperwork. Getting out paperwork will send red flags up to your prospects. They may say, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not saying we are going to move forward today.” Your response to this: “That is totally fine. Honestly, I just never remember things, so I always like to take really good notes.” Then just move right into the paperwork by saying, “Now what is the legal name of the company?” If you do get an objection here, that will give you good feedback as far as the interest of the prospect.
So, there is an explanation of the alternate advance and the paperwork close. Now the third close is the permission close. This close can be used throughout the sales process and is very effective, though surprisingly overlooked by sales people. You simply ask the prospect for permission to move forward. Prospects usually respond much better when they feel in control of a situation. When ready for the paperwork close, you could say, “With your permission, Mr. Jones, I would like to take a few notes to make sure I don’t forget anything. Is that okay with you?” When doing an alternate advance close, you could say, “Sue, with your permission, I would like to get a terminal out to you. Are you comfortable going ahead and switching now, or do you want to wait until the first so that this seems like a clean break from your current company?” Your prospect will have a difficult time refusing when you ask for permission.
The permission close is effective as a straight up closing question, too. After you’ve answered all the prospect’s questions, say, “Susan, talking with you today has been great; I think we’ve really connected. I know for sure you are going to be very happy with our service. With your permission, I’d like to go ahead and get started.” Then BE QUIET. WAIT while the prospect thinks. Describing the psychology is difficult, but hearing someone ask permission causes a person to think he/she is still in control and won’t be taken advantage of.
I hope these three closing techniques are going to help you close more deals.