Stop Closing the Sale, Start Building a Relationship

Posted on 03/01/2013 in Selling Skills

All the talk about "closing the sale" has gone away. Instead the talk is on building the relationship, asking better questions and offering value that sells itself.    

The challenge (not secret) lies in having the perseverance or following through to use a system of methods that work.  We will highlight four simple and straightforward methods used by sales professionals that work to build relationships and close more sales.

Method 1 — Highlight the main benefits for a particular customer

For example, one of STAR’s clients sells a service to retail establishments and simply says to prospective customers, "…if you use our service, your traffic will increase.”  This same client calls this approach Name That Tune selling for the simple reason that it only takes a few seconds to communicate the main message to the client.

Most sellers would sell more if they followed the same advice. When you state the main benefits for the client, say it clearly and concisely. Pause and let the prospective customer react.

Method 2 — Reassure the customer by citing relevant testimonials and references 

This method works well if the prospective customer hasn’t heard of your company or hasn’t used a similar product/service.  Testimonials are worth their weight in gold.  The key to success is to cite testimonials who are similar to the prospective customer’s business.

For example, it is fairly common for new prospective STAR clients to find us by searching on Google or Yahoo, and then contacting us for more information. When we speak with clients who don’t know us, we will usually say something like "…even though you haven’t heard of us, I’m sure that you’ve heard of some of our clients”. We will then cite relevant clients in the same or similar industry that the prospective new client can relate to.

Method 3 — Offer two or more alternatives to the customer 

When you only offer one solution to a customer, the only possible response is to say yes or no. Whenever possible, offer two or more alternatives and ask the customer to choose the one that is best for them.  A good way to phrase this is say something like "…based on what you told me about your needs, I think that these two products/services would work well for you. Which would you prefer?”

There are several advantages to offering alternatives to a customer. It doesn’t come across as pushy, lets the customer pick the product/service/option that works best for them, and shows the customer that you are trying to provide something that truly meets their needs.

Method 4 — Offer a guarantee or make a concession 

One of our clients believes so strongly in their product that they guarantee it will work for their new customers.  If the prospective customer isn’t satisfied with the product, they will offer a replacement product at no charge. We realize that offering a guarantee doesn’t apply to all sales situations, but imagine how powerful that statement can be to help you close more sales. How can the customer say no when the guarantee negates most of the risk to the client?

If you can’t offer a guarantee, you can generate a similar positive effect by offering a concession instead.  For example, tell the customer something like "…if you’re willing to try our product/service, we will do the following …” Then, offer to make a concession on something that the customer values but isn’t high cost to you. Some examples: extended warranty; post-sale technical support; customized packaging; consultation or advice from your organization to the client’s organization.

All STAR workshops focus on the need to build a solid foundation based on good relationships. Visit our Sales Workshops page to learn more.