Closing the Sale Means Being a Good Listener
Helping your prospect resolve uncertainty
Regardless of the type of business you are in, your prospect has some idea of what he or she wants to buy. But most are not 100 percent sure because they may be dealing with uncertainty and experiencing insecurity. No one likes nor enjoys being uncertain or insecure and they are not going to buy if they feel this way.
So how does the prospect view the salesperson at this point? As someone who is going to carefully listen and address his concerns; or someone who will put him on the spot, make him admit his ignorance and then get money out of him.
The prospect will always take the path of least resistance, tacitly and often indirectly acknowledging his uncertainty and insecurity. He will say it in so many words, but you have to listen. Here is a typical scenario:
Bob, a car salesman, noticed a middle-aged man as he walked into the dealership. The man looked around at the racks of literature, thumbed through one or two, and then headed toward the van on display. As Bob approached, the man turned, saw him and said, “Had some time, thought I’d look at what’s here.”
“There are a lot of options…” said Bob.
“That’s for sure – quite confusing.” For the next three minutes, Bob heard about how his prospect had seen every option available on this particular van model he was interested in. The man ended by saying, “So many choices.”
“So that’s not good?” asked Bob.
“No, no. I like that I can get it just the way I want.” The prospect then took a good two minutes explaining why a van would be just perfect for his family.
At the conclusion Bob asked, “So, since the wife will be driving it most of the time, it’s her decision?”
“Actually, she told me what she wants and left the rest up to me.”
“What would you like me to do?” asked Bob, then waited for however long it took to get an answer.
“Well, I suppose I should ask if you have one here with the stuff I want, and how much?”
“Makes sense. Before I forget, I’m Bob Hastings.”
“I’m George Turner.”
As Bob and George headed over to the desk, Bob said, “I appreciate you stopping in. What made you come here and not somewhere else?”
“I heard that you have excellent service.”
“Ah,” responded Bob, “so service is important?”
“Service is extremely important.”
In the scenario above, Bob has a better than average chance of closing this sale because he asked the right questions and listened to the answers he received from the prospect.
How do the Best Salespeople do this?
Salespeople often get so caught up in coming across as knowledgeable and friendly, that they lose sight of the question – “May I help you?”
“I’m not sure what I want to buy, but I know I want to spend the least amount possible.” How many times have you heard this before? The mistake salespeople often make at this point in the sale is that they feel they have to rescue the prospect.
Offering too many options or giving too much information is also not the best sales strategy. Providing a prospect with answers to questions that have not even been asked simply adds to buyer confusion. Salespeople often get so caught up in coming across as knowledgeable and friendly, that they lose sight of the question – “May I help you?” This question is designed to allow the prospect to open a dialogue with you, not an opening for you to tell them everything you know about your product.
Another mistake salespeople make is reading “I’m not sure I want to buy today” as a sign that they better do more selling and fast. This approach sometimes works, but most of the time it doesn’t. In the worst outcome it serves to add even more resistance to making a decision.
Ask open questions then listen
Don’t badger the prospect or pepper him with questions. Let the prospect work his way out of the uncertainty and insecurity. Ask a few open easy questions that will let the prospect clarify why he is there and get him back on track so that you can close the sale. Here is another example:
“Confused by the choices?” you ask. “Perhaps this will help…the last time you bought, what was it that was important?”
By asking questions based on what the prospect says, you assist the prospect out of uncertainty and insecurity. He rescues himself. As a result, you won’t be viewed as pushy, overbearing, or only interested in his money. You have also shown the prospect that you are listening and not just selling. Remember who’s the one buying – you or the prospect? It’s their concerns that count – not yours.
Listening is a skill and good listeners will close more business than good talkers. Remember the old sales proverb. God gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouth so that we could look and listen twice as much as we talk.