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April 24, 2006


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Carol L. Skolnick, Clear Life Solutions featuring Transformational Inquiry

"Does this work for you?" is my standard close when speaking to prospects on the phone. In an email, I also include a possible start date which helps get the ball rolling. I find that there is less negotiation in email inquiries: customers will either sign on or not very quickly...whereas those who phone me want a discussion and are looking for some wiggle room in pricing.

Also I have just structured my pricing in such a way that there is a built-in "close" when I tell prospective clients about my services. There are three packages and the middle one has proven to be the most attractive to most individuals wishing to deepen their practice of Tranformational Inquiry. When I let people know about package options I recommend that they choose the middle package at minimum, based on how most people learn and use the process. So far not one single person signing on with me has chosen the lowest priced/fewest sessions option; neither have they chosen the higher priced one and I plan to upsell current clients with this plan, which has more components and therefore requires a greater investment, not simply of money but of time and effort. The idea is that if they like what they've bought so far, they will gladly commit to more, particularly with incentive discounting.

Academic Coach a.k.a. Mary McKinney, Ph.D.

Wow, Robert,
Another fantastic newsletter.

I would feel more comfortable being somewhat more tentative, but I can definitely imagine saying:

"Would you like to set up a coaching appointment next week so that you can get a sense of how our work together could help you?"

Barry Bassnett

The single biggest problem we come across in converting leads to sales is what happens when we leave the client’s office and he is left to sell your proposal to his peers. You may be able to cover all that he, as an individual, needs to work through to reduce the perceived risk of doing business with you. Like it or not this is the major obstacle you have to overcome in almost all but new sale situtaions. He is basically putting himself up for judgement by his colleagues by recommending that they use your services. He genuinely may not be able to make a decision himself. A whole new sales loop starts, one that you may not be able to control even tenuously.

The question we always ask is,
‘What will we have to do to make your boss look good?’.

It more often than not raises a smile and leads us into gently into the subject of internal sales; what really drives the decision in that organisation because they are more than likely the real reasons he may be hesitant. Then we coach our new 'champion' on what he would have to do internally to move the project forward, provide him with targeted marketing collateral and appropriate references. Often this will be a power point presentation (No more than seven slides) which we prepare for him. This allows you to address the salient points, means he doesn’t have to do any additional work and makes him look good.

In Europe, the Middle East and Asia the pressure sale, however, low key we try to make it, really can have a negative effect and can undo all the good work that may have gone before. I can’t see that it would be that different in the US either-Rarely are B2B buying decisions taken by just one man, even if you can get to the CEO. Remember too in marketing professional service that most clients have been exposed to every selling tactic you may ever heard about because that is the areas where the best ( and worst) salesman operate. They aren’t immune but there is a massive resistance. Most can spot a 'close' from a mile off.

Try some self-effacing humour, it works for me.

Barry Bassnett

John Black

It seems that using "yes or no" questions in the close would be less effective (i.e. yield you less information) than open-ended questions. Rather than "does that work for your budget?", why not ask, "How many months (at $1500 per) would you expect to need our consulting?" -- when the prospect answers "X months," that opens the door to tell them what results/benefits you can provide to them in X months, as well as what more you could provide in (X+n) months. Not only can you close the sale with the added information, you may be able to close a larger sale than either of you anticipated.

Charlie Lang

Dear Robert,

While I enjoy pretty much all of your E-Zines and find most of your suggestions useful or very useful, I have to make an exception this time.

We are looking at sales exclusively from the client's point of view and the question is: who makes the buying decision? Of course, 100% the client. So what holds the client back from making this decision is actually the crucial question. Rather than subtly pushing the client to make this decision we found it much more useful and respectful to actually help the client becoming aware what holds him back and then deal with this.

If nothing holds him back anymore he (of course, it could be a she also) will close, no need for us to do so as a seller.

Only when the buyer feels comfortable enough and has lined up all important criteria (your solution is only a part of that, there are others like how the new solution will impact the status quo, who else will be affected, etc.), the buyer will be able to make a decision with a good feeling.

Closing statements that push (slightly, subtly or bluntly) may lead to closure, but chances are good that the client doesn't feel great about it.

As a consequence, we would coach the potential buyer through his buying decision always keeping in mind that our solution may not be good enough depending on their specific situation. We focus on helping the client make his best buying decision and they will choose us if we are a fairly good fit, because they like that we truly care about them.

We call it the Stop Selling! approach which actually accelerates the buying cycle, i.e the time needed for the buyer to come to a decision. It builds deep trust and helps the seller to avoid wasting time with what we came to term 'misleads'.

Nikolaj Tuxen Gerstrøm

Hi Robert,

Thank you for sharing these closing techniques with us.

I will definitly go and try out the "proposal close". I think that will suit very well in my business.

Normally I close my deals by:

1. Could this service be of interest to you?
2. When would suit you to get started?

I always let the customer feel that he is not being pushed to the sale, that is why I use terms as "Could" and "Would". I sort of gently lead him to the close.

But I will try your way, it looks very good.

Thank you for sharing all this information.


Nikolaj Tuxen Gerstrøm

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