Just shut up and close the sale!

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, said: “Move swiftly to overcome resistance.” In selling, that is interpreted as closing when you get a buying signal.

Yet how many times have we heard the story about the salesperson so excited about their products they get caught up in convincing the client of their buying decision by continuing to list the associated benefits, thus missing the client’s buying signal only to lose the sale?

The buyer gives the salesperson a clear buying signal like: ‘Where do I sign? When do we start? How many can I get?’ and so on. And what does the salesperson do? They carry on telling the prospect about additional features and benefits, none of which are of real interest to the buyer who has already made a decision to purchase. Sound like another story? Don’t be fooled, there are too many salespeople who have sailed past such obvious buying signals and lost sales.

Upwards of 70% of sales opportunities are lost because salespeople forget to shut up!

So what should happen instead? If you get a buying signal, ask for the order and then keep quiet. But, it’s not that easy. Because, as salespeople, we get just as excited by the fact that prospects see the value we are offering as they do. And then there is the other, bigger hurdle. We don’t listen!

Here is a tip that will help you improve your listening skills and, in the process, stop you from blurting out ‘nice to know’, but irrelevant additional benefits after the buying signal has sounded.

After the buyer has said something, where you are required to give a response, paraphrase your understanding of what has been said and then respond. For example:

Prospective Buyer: I think that your offer sounds like good value for money.
Salesperson: So you’re saying our solution matches (or addresses) your needs (or priorities)?
Prospective Buyer: Yes.
Salesperson: Great. Well, let’s get started and I can now set things in motion for you.

When you paraphrase you can internalize what is being said. In this way you avoid the trap of not focusing on what the prospect is saying.

As tempting as it is to go over the top, less is more in this instance. Remember, selling has a lot more to do with active listening and good questioning skills than it does with you being a ‘good talker’. So don’t make the fatal mistake and talk yourself out of a sale.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Her business Barrett P/L partners with its clients to improve their sales operations. Visit www.barrett.com.au


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