Every time I believe that sales has evolved beyond the past tactics and techniques that did so much to build negative stereotypes, I chance upon a salesperson who reminds me there are still a few holdouts. The hapless salesperson with whom I was working used the check close on me about a million times, pretending to himself that we were actually engaged in a dialogue.
The salesperson says something like, “Does this make sense?” or “Can you see why this would be important?” The questions are many and varied, and there are a limitless number of possibilities. These questions are in no way indicative that the salesperson wants to engage you in a meaningful dialogue. It means something else completely.
There is a difference between a check close and a real and meaningful dialogue. The difference is your intentions.
With Bad Intentions
The check close is the oldest of old school techniques where you ask questions with the sole intention of acquiring a “yes,” so you can move closer and closer towards a close.
Question. Yes. Question. Yes. Question. Yes. Close! (Then, when you say, “no” you get feigned confusion followed by “But I thought we agreed that . . .”)
It matters a great deal what your intentions are during every single sales interaction. If you ask a question simply to have your prospective client say “yes,” and to set up a close, then your intention is something less than a meaningful dialogue.
With Good Intentions
I oppose the idea that you can sell well without the ability to ask for and obtain commitments. In fact, I believe it is chief among the sales skills a sales professional must possess; without the ability to obtain a commitment to explore the possibility of working together, the game is up.
And, questions can do much to influence your dream client and to move an opportunity in your direction.
Questions asked with the right intention do much to make obtaining commitments much, much easier—even the close when you ask for the business.
When you ask questions with the intention of furthering both you and you’re dream client’s understanding of what must be done to achieve the results they seek, you come across as seeking understanding. You come across as caring.
When you ask questions with the intention of confirming your understanding or confirming that what you are proposing as a solution meets their vision of the right solution, you are either moving closer towards a positive outcome or gaining the feedback that will let you make the necessary adjustments to win the opportunity.
When you engage your dream client in a real dialogue, they know that they are being heard. They know their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and needs are important to you—even more important than what you hoped to share with them.
Your Intentions Are Known
I have made a lifetime study of sales so, of course, I knew that the salesperson was employing the check close, and that he was poorly trained and equipped to sell. You might suspect that someone without the familiarity, someone who might not know what was being done, might not know how or why they should be offended. You would be wrong.
Your dream clients can feel your intentions. They don’t need a working knowledge of closing techniques or a yellow “for Dummies” book to know it feels bad and that the salesperson sitting across from them is being a selfish bastard. They also don’t need to have anybody tell them whether or not you really care about helping them—they can feel that, too.
How you sell is less important than who you have to be to sell. But how you sell tells your dream client exactly who you are.
What are the behaviors that salespeople exhibited in the past that caused the old, and mostly-outdated, negative stereotype?
How harmful are those tactics and behaviors now?
Why do some salespeople, even if it is a relative few, still practice tactics that damage their long-term ability to sell well and effectively?
Are you always the salesperson you want to be? Are you the salesperson you would want to call on your Mom or your aging grandparents?
If for some reason you are relying on an old tactical close, how could you behave throughout the whole sales cycle so as to be able to replace it with something better?
Who do you have to be to be a really, really great salesperson?
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Filed under: Sales 3.0