Closing the Sale
By Tom Perkins
Introduction Sales are an essential part of any business. Without sales, revenue streams dry up and businesses shut down. It important that employees, whether they are members of your sales team, front desk, or personal training departments, not only understand this, but also learn how to close a potential sale. In this series entitled Closing the Sale, we will discuss the four steps involved in closing a sale. They include:
* Recognizing When to Close a Sale
* Educating the Prospective Client
* Deciding on Which Closing Technique to Use
* Delivering the Closing Pitch
Part I: Recognizing When to Close a Sale
Many fitness providers have little or no experience in outside sales. Finding new prospects, explaining the features and benefits of your services, and closing the sale can be difficult for any non-sales-oriented individual to master. While it can seem difficult and even stressful for many, closing a sale does not have to feel as if you are pulling teeth.
When closing a sale: Start closing the sale from the beginning. This isn’t suggesting that you perform a hard sale on your prospective client. It means that you should be upfront and honest about your agenda when speaking to them.
Tell the prospective client exactly what you are selling and how it will benefit them. By being upfront about your agenda, you will assist in promoting an honest, mutually respectful, and rewarding discussion. More importantly, it will bring you one step closer to closing the sale.
Avoid yes and no answers. Respond to prospective clients questions with inquiries of your own. For example, instead of answering the question, does this membership package include one-on-one time with a personal trainer? with a simple yes, you could respond with, would you like it to include one-on-one time with a personal trainer?
Offer a free trial membership.
Free trial memberships often lead to sales. This proven strategy is effective for all types of businesses including fitness. What better way for the prospective client to truly understand what you are offering them?
Never hesitate to offer a free, no-obligation trial membership period, and be sure to follow up when the trial period has ended. It is often difficult to determine when a prospective client is ready to sign on the dotted line. However, there are several indicators that you can use to gauge their readiness to sign: The pace of the conversation changes.
Typically when someone is making a final analysis or attempting to rationalize the decision they are about to make, they become more contemplative and the pace of the conversation may slow down as they begin to put all the pieces together.
On the other hand, some people become excited and want to move forward quickly. In this case, the conversation pace usually speeds up.
They start taking notes while you are speaking.
The prospect agrees with the ideas you are presenting.
The prospect leans forward indicating interest in what you are saying. The prospect asks questions.
Normally, people only ask questions about things that interest them. Take this as a positive sign and move forward.
Finally, remember that the prospective client must always be made to feel as if they are the star of the show. In your conversations with them, be respectful and provide your undivided attention. Turn off your cell phone and maintain eye contact to show your interest in what they are saying.
Part 2: Educating the Prospective Client
When educating a prospective client about your services, try to use a client-centered approach with reinforcing language. For example, find ways to restate the benefits the prospective client can expect to receive from using your services.
Try to create a visual picture, so-to-speak, of what their desired goal is and how your service/program will be able to assist them in attaining that goal. Periodically throughout your conversation use statements such as, let’s review where you are at right now, and see if we have covered all your concerns.
Or, if I understand your needs correctly, you would be interested in Package XYZ? As you begin to receive feedback from the prospective client, you can narrow down their needs and desires.
Then, when you know exactly what the prospective client wants, begin using statements such as, specifically, you need and/or want It is important that you always reiterate what you have agreed to do for the prospective client and what they will need to do as well.
By mentioning the goals discussed, you set up an informational loop which can lead to a close. In short, the loop goes something like this: You need and/or want goal ABC. We provide solution XYZ which will assist you in meeting that goal.
Part 3: Deciding on Which Closing Technique to Use
Choosing an effective closing technique depends in large part upon the client and the situation. There are probably hundreds of closing techniques that can be categorized into several general categories.
The following are a sampling of the more effective techniques used:
The Direct Close.
This is probably the most obvious and frequently used. Once you are confident that you have done everything possible to address the prospective clients concerns, and you are confident that you can meet their needs, close the sale. For example, with your approval, I’d like to sign you up for our Package XYZ.
The Concession Close.
This technique is used when you want to give the prospective client the feeling that you are offering them a special deal or bargain. f you sign up today, you will receive an additional 10% off.
The Trial Close.
Let the prospective client try your services for a specified period of time with the understanding that you will sign them up after the trial period ends. The assumption is that the prospective client will come to realize the benefits of your service and continue using them.
The Callback Close.
Sometimes, it’s just not possible to close the sale on the first visit. There may be circumstances beyond the control of the prospective client that does not allow them to commit at that time. Be sure that you respect those circumstances and make an allowance.
For example, okay, Mr. Smith, I understand that you can not commit today. I will hold this offer until Saturday if you would like time to think about it. Act as if you have already closed the sale. Let your tone, mannerisms and posture exude confidence.
A positive statement such as I’m glad you are giving us this opportunity to show you what we can do for you. I’ve helped many clients with needs similar to yours, and I know I can help you meet your goals as well.
Whatever you do, avoid putting pressure on the prospective client. People don’t like a hard sale.
Avoid saying things such as: I can give you this special package, but only if you sign up today. I’m getting really busy, and if you don’t sign up today, I may not be able to fit you into my schedule. If you sign up today, it will cost you $, but if you wait until tomorrow it will cost you $$$.
Part IV: Delivering the Closing Pitch
Once you have educated the client to your services and decided on a closing technique, it is time to deliver your closing pitch. Here are a few tips to performing a successful closing pitch: Be sure that your discussion mode and tone remain normal.
Do not allow your tone of voice or posture to change from the normal conversational tone you have using up to this point.
Provide the prospective client with all of the necessary information needed to make their decision.
Do not add information that has not been brought up in previous discussions. This can lead to confusion on the part of the prospective client and may extend the overall closing process.
Remember that you are asking for the sale, but do not place pressure on the prospective client.
Expect that your close may fail if you have not provided the prospective client with all the necessary information.
If you fail to close the sale, reflect on what went wrong and learn from the experience so that you can do better the next time.
Do not show resentment or leave the prospective client feeling angry with you. After you have delivered your closing pitch, you are likely to encounter one of three scenarios:
1. I’m not interested at this time.
What to do?
Ask why they came to that decision, but do so in a conversational tone. It is possible that you can still present information that may reverse their decision.
2. I’m not ready right now.
What to do?
Answer with not ready After you have answered their statement, allow them time to respond to yours. Do not interrupt.
Often, the prospective client will tell you why they are not ready.
After they have, be sure to respond with something such as, Thank you for telling me why you were not ready to proceed. Never negate the reasons why they are not ready to move ahead. You may still be able to close the deal by answering their objections and turning the negative into a positive.
Acknowledge their decision, indicate you have listened to their objections, and move ahead with the answers that will lead them to an acceptance.
When can we start? Not much more to do than have them sign on the dotted line.
As children, we learn from an early age how to persuade people to do what we want them to do. Some of us are able to master the art of persuasion better than others.
Anyone can learn how to master this skill. Think of sales as just an extension of persuasion. If you adequately prepare, closing a sale can become a natural part of your conversation with any prospective client.
Believe in what you are selling and try a few of these suggested techniques. It does take practice in order to fine-tune your delivery so that it becomes second nature, but the rewards will be well worth it.
You may find that the process of taking a prospective client through the stages of becoming a client can be a very satisfying experience.
After all, you are creating a win-win situation. The client is having their needs met, and you are growing your income.
Tom Perkins is a business solutions coach and certified personal trainer He has a degree in accounting and works with fitness professionals leading them to profitability. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Essential Fitness Business Success Checklist. Or visit his website at http://www.fitnessindustrysolutions.com.
Contact Email Address: thecoach@FitnessIndustrySolutions.com Copyright Date: 2005 Tom Perkins. All rights reserved.