Anatomy of the Sales Call (Part 4 of 4)

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We’ve made it through parts 1 – 3 so far, and now it’s time for my favorite part of sales – closing.  I’m going to talk a little about when, how, and why to close.  Anyone who’s ever been involved in sales has likely seen the movie: “Glenngary Glenn Ross”.  It’s a classic for sales junkies.  In the movie, Alec Baldwin has a line: “Put that coffee down!  Coffee is for Closers!” So if you wanna drink the coffee, you gotta close!

Closing
This is the part of sales that’s otherwise known as “sealing the deal”.  The purpose of closing is to complete the sales call.  This could mean that your customer purchases your products or services or it could simply mean that you have agreed to move ahead to the next step in the process.  If you’re a wedding photographer, it could mean that your customer has agreed to an engagement shoot prior to committing to booking you for their wedding.  That’s just an example, but not a way that I would personally go about doing business.

Know When to Close
It’s important to know when to begin closing as you don’t want to close to early or wait too long to close.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to look for buying signals from the customer.  Buying signals are indications in statements of the customer that they want to buy your product or service.

Here’s some examples:

  • “So exactly what would you be shooting on the day of our wedding?”
  • “Do you offer any other print products besides regular photo prints?”
  • “I really like your work and I can almost see myself if your photos!”

Those are a few things that you might hear your customer say that indicate that he or she is ready to buy from you.  At that point, the supporting stops and you move to close.

How to Close
This is the part that excites me the most about sales because this is the moment of truth of your entire sales call and is a testament to how good of a job you have done this far in the sale.  In order to close, all you have to do is ask for the sale.  What do I mean by that?

Let’s say that I have been discussing shooting an annual report for a corporate client and we have talked about what her company needs for her report and I have shown how I can meet those needs.  When my customer has indicated that she is ready to buy, I would simply say something like:

“We have discussed the headshots and environmental portraits that you require for your report and how and when I’ll be able to have those ready for you.  So what I would like to do now is take a look at your calendar and mine and find a time to book the headshots in the studio and the location shots at your company’s building so that we can get your images started for your annual report.  How does that sound?”

Did you notice how I asked for the sale by asking the customer to commit to booking the shoots?  That’s not so bad, right?  It doesn’t seem so, but there are a lot of people who are afraid to close – afraid to ask for the sale.  If you can’t do that, you’re probably not going to do well in any job that involves sales.

What Next?
There are couple of caveats to closing and I would be doing you a disservice if I left them out.  Sometimes customers have concerns that you need to address.  Other times they may just be indifferent and not ready to buy right now.  In order to make the sale, you have to overcome them.

There are three types of concerns: skepticism, misunderstandings, and drawbacks. Skepticism is pretty straightforward.  It simply means that a customer isn’t completely sure of what you’re telling them.  In other words, they aren’t positive that you can deliver what you say you can or that it will benefit them in the way that you described.  You can easily handle skepticism by showing the customer relevant proof of whatever they may be skeptical about.  Misunderstandings are also very easy to handle because they just mean that you and the customer didn’t have a clear, complete, mutual understanding of something that you discussed.  You can overcome a misunderstanding by confirming the customer’s need behind the concern and then support the need with relevant features and benefits.  Drawbacks, on the other hand, are the worst of the three concerns.  That means that one of your products or services doesn’t completely meet a need of the customer or it will cause some sort of sacrifice on their part.  Drawbacks are the toughest concern to overcome but can be countered by having the customer take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and review previously accepted benefits.

Indifferent customers are harder to handle and aren’t a lot of fun unless you enjoy a good challenge.  This is usually caused by the customer being disinterested in the product or service.  With the indifferent customer it’s important to acknowledge the customer’s point of view and try and uncover ways to improve their indifference with the product or service and present the consequences of leaving the situation unchanged.

Summary
Over the past four days, we have broken down the sales call and attempted to demystify it just a little bit.  By no means was this meant to be all-inclusive, but rather a look into some ways that you can improve your sales skills.  If you want to get really good at sales you just have to go out and do it.  There’s no magic script or secret recipe that will guarantee that you’ll close every single time.  You have to have some thick skin and be willing to accept that not everyone is going to buy from you.

If you enjoyed this little bit of business info, be sure to let me know in the comments.  If I don’t have the answer for what you’re looking for, I will certainly find someone who does.  Thanks for coming along and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for Friday’s Photography Roundup!

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