Our March 7th post about closing techniques prompted an interesting and thought provoking response from a reader. We thought many of you would enjoy the exchange.
Okay – so this guy is on track but it could be done better. Asking, “Have I proven to you that we have what you want to buy,” is a yes or no question. I want a “yes,” or “yes if you…..” response.
You should ask, “What would have to happen for you to move forward with us today.” This is very tasteful and will grab a response. This question gets one of two responses: 1) you get the sale, or 2) you get the objection, if one exists. It also forces them to present the REAL objection so you can answer it and close the deal.
Great observation, Mike, and we sincerely appreciate your interest. We do, though, have some challenges with the approach you suggest.
At AXIOM, we teach our clients how to assume the role of “Trusted Partner/Advisor” to their prospects and customers. If a buyer gives you an audience, it is always with the objective of determining whether or not you have something they want to buy. As a result, if we assume the role of “Trusted Advisor”, our objective as a salesperson is exactly the same. Our desire to help the customer make the best decision possible by determining whether or not we have what they want to buy.
So the first challenge I have with your comment is, “I want a yes”, or “yes if you…..” response. What YOU want is completely irrelevant. If you are truly trying to be the customer’s trusted advisor, you shouldn’t want or expect an answer that serves your interest first. A true partner wants an honest response, whether it be a “yes”, “no” or “maybe.” You may hope to get a “yes”, but to try and fashion a question to elicit the response YOU want is contrary to what a true trusted partner should do.
“Have we proven that we have what you want to buy?” isn’t in questionable taste, nor is it a ‘closing line.’ It is the natural conclusion to the buyer’s decision process. With or without us asking, they will eventually have to answer that question. If you ask it, it will always ‘grab’ one of three responses: ‘yes, no or maybe.’ A ‘yes’ should result in an order. A ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ opens an opportunity to uncover ‘real’ objections or conditions under which the buyer would proceed to an order. In any case, an honest and open response is all we expect, not a “yes” or “yes, if you…” A “no” or “maybe” are equally valid and welcomed responses. Remember, we are serving the buyer’s best interest, not ours.
The truth is, “What would have to happen for you to move forward with us today?” sounds a little like a car salesman saying “What do we have to do to get you in this car today?” The question isn’t posed in the buyer’s best interest. It appears, at least on the surface, to be a salesperson trying to get a deal, not a trusted advisor trying to determine where the BUYER is relative to their objective.
Manipulating a conversation in an attempt to get a “yes” is the kind of thing that, for some, gives the sales profession a less than stellar reputation. If you want to be the trusted partner, avoid ambiguity and be certain you know where you are relative to the buyer’s true objective, “Have we proven that we have what you want to buy?” is as direct and un-manipulative a route you can take.