Are You a Backwards Closer?
By Candice Wentling
The art of closing is a long-studied phenomenon that can be compared to finding a unicorn. There are many books and training sources that discuss tips and tricks, which promise to wrangle in any customer. But once wrangled can you keep them? That is what is most important, right? Selling and keeping customers? Would you, as a customer, want to be subdued by fancy talk and passive-aggressive closing techniques? A backwards closer is one who begins closing after asking for the account by responding to objections. This technique can cause guilt-induced business and may come across as pushy (even if not intentional). So how do you train your salespeople to close in a way that respects your potential customer’s decision-making process, while not leaving sales on the table?
Or better yet, ask really good questions, questions that center on potential objections and differentiators. For instance, if I know that a potential objection could be time-frame related, I may ask the question: “Are there any other projects you are looking to complete before committing to this one?” All of a sudden, when it comes time to close, I have now (respectfully) removed a potential objection. The goal here is to continue working through all of your common objections and create well-worded questions to diffuse them.
Let’s try again. How about selling to non-decision-makers? “Who, besides yourself, would be involved in this decision?” Now I know that I may not be able to close the deal today if I am talking to someone who will not be making the decision alone. There is one more category that requires well-formed questions: company and product differentiators. Ask questions that uncover needs that your product or company can meet better than your competitors. Steer clear of uncovering needs that any of your competitors can meet.
Done right, the sales call will proceed smoothly, allowing the customer to make an informed decision upon which they will follow through. If all objections have been handled before closing, the close will not be an uncomfortable obstacle to be avoided but one that your sales team can reference with confidence. This is a good thing because confidence sells!
Did you know?
Closing is just another question, which brings me to my next point: chances are that your lower-ranking sales representatives are not asking for the business when it comes time to close. According to Action Selling, “64 percent of salespeople fail to ask for commitment.” Don’t believe me? I dare you to ride along with your reps for a few days and see for yourself. In many instances, the close is an awkward interaction that results in the potential customer asking for information to be left with them. It is imperative that sales people be trained in a way that allows for a comfortable interaction between salesperson and buyer.
In closing (<— see what I did there?), when is the last time you looked at your sales process and evaluated areas for improvement? Do you know your top objections? If so, do you know how your reps are responding (or not responding) to them? Do you consider the buyer’s perspective? It starts with leadership. We cannot always lay the responsibility on the employee. So, as a leader, do you ask your employees carefully formulated questions to uncover potential needs that can be met by you? This would then make you the salesperson! Happy selling!
About the author
Candice Wentling is Sales Trainer and Distributor of Action Selling™ and Director of Certified Action, a business consulting firm. She has been conducting sales training seminars, field coaching and leadership accountability for the last 13 years. Wentling began her sales career in the supplemental insurance industry and was quickly promoted into a management role. She became the youngest District Manager in the organization, going on to win their top sales award 18 times. Wentling then transferred her skills and began working in the water treatment industry as a Sales Manager with an industry-leading company, reorganizing and developing training programs. In addition, she has conducted regional workshops, worked directly with on-boarding and training of new sales representatives and consulted for leaders in multiple organizations.