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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   April 2004

Are You a Schmoozer or a Closer?

Most salespeople can be placed in one of two categories. There are those who approach the sales process only when they need to be available to provide information, be there to answer questions, be a new best-friend to the prospect. If the prospect decides to buy, these salespeople will gladly take the order; otherwise, they do not want to pressure the buyer. This type of a salesperson can best be described as a schmoozer. They are friendly, likeable and always willing to listen; however, they would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than ask for the order. They are always there, patiently waiting, hoping for the next sale to come their way, and yes, they do make sales. Even a person with minimal selling skill can make a sale. Selling, after all, is essentially a matter of numbers, ratios and the perceived need for a product or service that is being sold.

Closers, on the other hand, view the sales process as an exact science. They break it down into phases and assign precise, well-defined outcomes to each phase. They are prepared for all eventualities and equip themselves with backup strategies that have been carefully thought out. Closers also recognize that selling is a game of numbers; however, they use this knowledge to identify the prospect who is most likely to buy and then direct the entire focus of their well-designed, carefully structured sales presentation toward that prospect to turn him/her into a buyer. You will find these closers making almost the same number of sales week in and week out, regardless of any change in circumstances. They are usually at the top of the heap and enjoy a high six-figure income, consistently.

One of the all-time great sales trainers, J. Doug Edwards, had a favorite saying: You cannot close too soon or too often. In 25-plus years of selling, I have found this to be true. Closing is not some crafty trick that one comes up with at a certain point in the sales process; rather it is an underlying theme of the entire sales process. From the moment you say hello to the prospect, everything you say and do must be for the prospect’s benefit and must be designed to facilitate and conclude the sale. Closing is not some magical moment in the sales process; rather it is the carefully designed constitution of the sales process that ensures an efficient and mutually rewarding transaction.

Every sales presentation is a combination of style, content and substance. Style is one’s overall personality and specific method of interpersonal communication. Style, by definition, is unique to each individual. However, top-producing sales pros recognize that the ability to adapt their style to make it more compatible with their prospect can be a very effective tool. This is how rapport, a prerequisite for consistently successful selling, is established and maintained.  

Content is the specific product knowledge and relevant, precise information provided during the sales process. Closers realize that extensive product knowledge is essential to succeed in any sales environment. Sales pros know that you must firmly believe in what you sell; in order to believe, you must learn everything about the product or service you are selling. When you know what you are talking about, your sales presentation will flow smoothly.

In this case, substance is all of the information, verbal and nonverbal, that becomes available to the prospect and facilitates the decision-making. It is the essence of your understanding of what you are selling and your commitment to your product, as independently observed by the prospect.

Here are some ideas that will help you hone your sales process. A true and tried rule of public speaking is: Tell them what you are going to speak about, then say it, and then tell them what you did. This formula will work wonders for your sales presentations. Always keep things simple and to the point.

Start by defining the intended outcome of your interaction. You can say something simple: I must understand exactly what you need and give you sufficient information so we can make a yes or no decision. Is that acceptable to you? You can also say: What exactly do I need to do to earn your business? Once a mutually acceptable outcome is agreed upon, define the nature of the relationship. In other words, tell the prospects what you bring to the table, what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. One way to do this is to say:  You can expect me to be completely up-front and straightforward with you. Can I expect the same from you? Then establish the criteria on which the prospect will make the final decision. You can open that discussion by asking a question: When and how would you know that we could do business together? Lastly, agree upon a plan of action as to exactly what will take place and exactly when it will take place. An example of a question to be asked is: If my presentation does not meet your criteria, clearly we will not do any business together; on the other hand, if we do meet your criteria, we will then proceed right away, won’t we?

These are simple questions and statements that can be handled in five to ten minutes. These few short minutes will save you a lot of grief and frustration. Of course, it is imperative that you acquire and then frequently hone your selling skills. Closers know that they must develop their ability to get to know people. In order to be a successful, consistent closer, you must be able to connect with others and stay connected—communicating effectively with them, deducing what is in their minds and getting them to take timely action. 


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