You must have done something right. Your marketing must be working. The prospective client called and asked to meet with you. You chose a great meeting location, maybe your agency office, maybe a coffee shop. You dressed the part, you rehearsed the meeting and prepared well. You made a terrific presentation. Now it’s time to ask for the prospective client’s business. You can feel the tension. Why is closing so difficult?
Because we make it difficult. Is there any possibility shifting from a transactional model to a relationship/consulting model will remove some of the pressure of “the close?”
The psychology of “closing” is the topic of many, if not most, sales training seminars. Not surprisingly, it is the point of the buying process where many agents have the most difficulty. Is it possible to take the pressure off of the process of “asking for the business” by distributing it across the entire relationship? Maybe it’s even possible the client will “close” and take the pressure off of you entirely. That is, you know, the essence of a good relationship.
We go into many presentations with all of the wrong expectations. We fear rejection. We worry that our research might not be extensive enough, that they client did not tell us everything. We felt we were on a different wavelength with this particular client. The client seemed hesitant, maybe even argumentative. Not only that, but we need this sale. It’s July and we are already behind our budget. Where’s that turnaround everyone’s been talking about?
Traditional sales looks at the Close as the culmination of an array of sales “techniques” that, properly executed, leads the client to say “Yes”. It is the penultimate moment of every sales effort resulting from a “sense of urgency” that you create for the client. In traditional sales technique, the Close is the proof that you have done your job well.
It is not surprising that the idea of the Close is so fraught with anxiety.
The problem with the traditional techniques is several-fold, however. Firstly, they are inauthentic. Your relationship with clients should not be about manipulating them to do what best serves your mortgage payment schedule. Secondly, consumers today are far more aware, knowledgeable and savvy than were the consumers of ten, twenty and thirty years ago when the classic sales techniques were developed by Xerox, IBM and used car dealers. Consumers can spot an inauthentic, nervous or manipulative sales technique long before it’s out on the table.
Its time to re-evaluate how we view the Close.
What if the Close was not the penultimate moment of every sales effort, but rather a logical conclusion to satisfying the needs of the client? What if the Close happened before the client ever told you what they wanted researched? What if the client made the decision to buy without any pressure from you at all and created their own sense of urgency to avoid missing out on the opportunities you uncovered for him?
Rightly viewed, the close should happen before the presentation ever begins. In an appropriately structured relationship, we are not selling anything, so there is no sale to close. In the relationship paradigm, there is no pressure to buy other than the pressure of the consequences of not buying. When you are a consultant rather than a salesperson, the client closes the buy, not you, and they do so in a very scheduled and predictable manner.
Nirvana, right? It’s doable, it’s possible and it requires a relationship mentality.