I read somewhere once that selling without closing is just conversation – how true that is. The whole point of the selling process is to close the sale so that you can make money. Making money is the whole point of being in business - and it is possible to sell in so that you open a relationship for the long-term, leading to referrals and repeat business.
A useful approach is to follow this 4 step process – Discover, Diagnose, Design, Deliver.
Discover – who is your client? Are they are a good fit for you and what you offer? Do their values align with yours? This phase of closing helps you to determine whether the client meets the profile of your target market, and so you need to be an exceptional listener at this stage to pick up the messages your prospective client feeds you.
Diagnose - what does your client want? What problem do they have that needs solving? This is not the same as finding out what a client needs. People may need your product or service, but this isn't the same as what they want - what they want defines the value they attach to your product or service, and helps you to understand whether you can close the sale. During the diagnosis phase you can analyse if your offering meets with your client’s wants.
Design – The design stage is about preparing for the outcomes and setting expectations. This is a critical phase when looking towards delivery of the product and a satisfied customer. At this stage you may need to adjust what you have on offer, demonstrating to the client what is available to them, and how their investment in your product is worthwhile for them. And remember, the way you demonstrate this to one prospective customer may need to be different to the way you do it for another.
Deliver – At the deliver stage, check out with the client that they are satisfied with the product or service you offer, and find out if they are ready to sign the paperwork. This stage is where many small business owners pull back – but be honest with yourself, isn’t it better to know now that someone does or does not want to buy? The best advice I received (though this was in the context of negotiating with unions in the 80s) is to say what is on offer and shut up – many people are ready to buy, but we end up talking them out of buying, or into buying less. And that has become my mantra - say it and shut up!
Next time you are selling, work with the 4Ds and check out the impact on your closing style. After all, what do you have to lose? If they say no thanks you know sooner and can move onto your next sale.