Media salespeople love to talk, which is fine – as long as they also know how to listen! And they don’t just talk to their clients, they also talk to their peers, and it is during these peer-to-peer conversations that sales legends are born. Highly successful media sales people become elevated to superstar status, the feats of selling they achieve assuming an almost magical ambience. But folks, I’m here to tell you there is nothing magical in selling successfully. I teach about in my ad sales training workshops that these superstars did not enter this world possessing special powers of persuasion. The point I’m making here is that many of these legends surround one particular aspect of selling – the close.
Okay, why? Why is the close regarded as such a huge mental barrier? After all, a sales meeting is simply a conversation between two or more people whose aims and objectives are, hopefully, converging towards a point of sale. However, the question I am constantly being asked is: “Ryan, I’m having a heck of a time closing business. What do I do? I’m in a call with a prospective client, I get to the end of the call and it’s like – oh crazy awkward! What do I say? I want to ask for the order but I don’t want to come across as a sort of used car salesman. What do I do? Tell me a method I can use.”
Okay. It’s a fair question, and I’d guess we’ve all been there at one time or another. So, what is the answer? Well, there isn’t one, not a single answer anyway. The fact is there are hundreds, an absolute ton, of closing techniques out there. Just spend some time surfing the internet – you’ll find them. I’m going to share a few with you today that I have always found useful, and the bottom line is, they work.
Before I do that though, there is something important you need to know. Using a particular closing technique because “ad sales training expert” Ryan Dohrn told you to, because it works for him, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work for you. What you have to do is find a closing technique that works for YOU! Whatever technique, or techniques, you settle on using have to be right for you, for your personality. They have to fit the way you work, your modus operandi. Use a technique that isn’t right for you, or try to fake it, and you’ll crash and burn. No sale.
Having said that, it is also true to say that the things that make you most uncomfortable, or the things that are the hardest work, usually end up giving you the best results. As I share a few closing techniques with you right now, one, or more, of them might make you think, “I just don’t know!” That’s okay, that’s cool, but think about this, when you get out of your box, when you step away from your comfort zone, that is exactly when you will begin to achieve great success.
I’m going to give you some closing techniques to consider and work on, however, I also want to stress how important it is that you need to control the follow-up. We’ll discuss what that is and how to do it in a while. At this point, I just want you to be aware that the close isn’t the end of the selling process.
The Match Game Close
This, then, is my favorite closing technique. It’s called, ‘The Match Game Close’. I didn’t invent it, I simply came across it years ago at an ad sales training class and now I use it all the time. This close involves matching the prospective client’s problems to solutions. During the meeting you will have been taking notes, so you fully understand what your client needs are, and how you will satisfy them. And now you move comfortably into the ‘Match Game Close’.
For example: “Mr Client, you said you need new customers; I have 13,500 potential new customers for you, all with incomes high enough to buy your product. You said you’ve tried before and got no return on your investment; I’ve shown you three examples of business owners, like you, that are really happy with us. You said you only use social media; I’ve shown you how our social media campaigns are more targeted and cost less than most others. I think we’re a perfect match, don’t you agree?” The answer is often positive. “Then let’s get rolling together on this. What do you think?”
I love the Match Game Close because it’s full of enthusiasm and charisma. It’s a great way of wrapping up a good sales meeting, like the ending of a good movie. How many times have you been deep into a movie only to have the screen go blank at the end. You’re like, “Is that it? Is it over? What happened to…?” It is anything but satisfying and we don’t want that at the end of our sales meeting. We want to end on a high note, with a bit of a bang. And that’s where the Match Game Close scores. It’s for sales people who have a charismatic style, people who want to close with enthusiasm. And it works!
The Value Close
Here’s another close. It’s called ‘The Value Close’. It’s another strong close, and it has the benefit of being very simple. When you’ve finished talking about your products, you say something like: “Mr Client, do you see value in what I have presented to you today? Can you see how this would be beneficial to your company?” The answer is, again, usually positive – if you’ve done your job properly. You then say; “Great! Are you ready to start your marketing partnership with us?” Or, “When will you be ready to start your marketing partnership with us?” Notice I did not say, “Are you ready to sign on the dotted line?” We’re moving the prospective client towards a point where they stop being ‘prospective’. It’s still a conversation; one you are controlling.
From a media sales training point of view, The Value Close can be good in the right circumstances. In my opinion, it isn’t as strong as the Match Game Close, but it is still one you should have ready in your armory.
The I Almost Forgot Close
This next closing technique won’t fit everyone’s personality. Let me explain what I mean. Last night I was coaching a young sales person named Sarah who really liked this close because it reflected the essential ‘her’. She’s bubbly, cheerful, upbeat, kind of back and forth a little. The close is called, ‘The I Almost Forgot Close’. Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but in the right hands it’s good because it’s not confrontational, and it comes with a gentle, but potent, sting in the tail.
Again, you use it as you are wrapping up the call. You say something like: “Well, we’ve talked about this, and we’ve done that, and thank you so much, Mr Client, for your time … Oh, I almost forgot, when are you going to make a final decision on this?” The client has been lulled into thinking you’re bringing the meeting to an end without asking for the order, and then, bam! You spring the I Almost Forgot Close.
If this close fits your personality, use it. It works, and it works because you’ve lowered the client’s guard, he is all ready for the farewell handshake, he thinks you aren’t going to ask for the order – and then you do.
The No Promises Close
Though many sales people don’t like this close, I have to say I do. It does have a slightly negative, perhaps darker, tone to it. However, the reason I think the No Promises Close works is because it is ethical. Here’s an example: “Mr Client, I can’t promise you the same success these other companies have had advertising with us – I can’t promise you that. And if anyone makes you such a promise … well, I’d probably question that. But, based on what I’ve learned from you, the research I’ve done online, and the experiences of other companies we’ve worked with that are similar to yours, I think you would be very successful advertising with us. Are you ready to start working together?”
Okay. I think you will recognize that though the No Promises Close is extremely ethical, it does move the conversation a little toward the negative. “I can’t promise you…” etc. It’s a close that will fit sales people who have an ethical barometer, people who feel they really need to be in full disclosure mode. As I say, I really like this one, and it does work, but, again, it has to fit your personality, your style.
The Fear of Losing Close
Or ‘The Fear of Losing Out Close’. This technique requires you to make an offer to the potential client based on something you don’t want them to miss out on – just as the name implies. It is very common for my ad sales training clients to require this close of their reps. As I mentioned earlier, I do not like that approach. Each salesperson has a unique style and they each need to find a closing technique that they love.
The following are a few examples: “This is the last spot we have open in our Afternoon Drive program on our radio station. Are you interested?” Or, “This is the last spot we have left on the back cover of our magazine. Are you interested?” Or, “We have a 20% discount for advertisers that sign up today. My boss told me it can’t be tomorrow, only today. 20% off if you sign up today.” Or, “If you commit to buy now, I can offer you a front forward, right page.” Or, “I can offer you the first commercial spot in the stop-set on our radio station during the noon break.” Or … well, I’m sure you get the idea.
Does it work? Absolutely it does – but be warned – not with every buyer. Some prospective clients won’t like this close, they just won’t, so you have to gauge your room. By that I mean look around. Look at who you’re talking to. Ask yourself what level of rapport you have with them, and if you really think this close will work with them.
Another warning. There’s a potential banana skin lurking in this close – one you must beware of. It’s an add-on ploy I don’t like, and certainly one I don’t advise you using. It’s this: You’ve gone through everything with your prospect and you go for the close. You say, “I was talking to John Doe this morning, telling him about this last spot we have left. He said he’s interested and he’s thinking about it. If you don’t take it, I think he will.”
The danger here is obvious, and you had better be prepared, because if John Doe isn’t interested, and your prospect says, “That’s okay. I’m good. Let John have it,” you have nowhere else to go. The bottom line is – make sure you’re not lying. Be sure you do have someone waiting in the wings if and when you use this form of the Fear of Losing Out close.
I said earlier I would tell you about the all-important follow-up. What do I mean? It’s simple really, after you close the deal, and your buyer tells you he needs to think about it, you MUST control the follow-up. In every ad sales training workshop I preach that you need to get your cell phone out right there and set up another meeting – and try to make it within 48 hours. Re-engage with your prospect within that time and your chances of closing the deal rise dramatically. Whatever happens at this point, you should always find a polite, friendly way to let them know that if they don’t set up a meeting with you, you’re going to be one of those sales people that do follow-up. You’re going to be on the phone with them, you’re going to email them, whatever, but you ARE going to be in touch. Try hard to get that five-minute follow-up meeting. If they agree – awesome! If they say no, respect their answer. In today’s media environment, when a buyer says no, he usually means just that.
Keep in mind that if you’ve embraced some solid ad sales training techniques and done a great job during your sales call with your buyer, and their answer is no, you should look back into what you’ve said to them, and how you said it, because the chances are you’ve messed something up. Maybe your timing was off; maybe you used the wrong closing technique for you or for the buyer. But you must use the whole exercise as part of your sales education, a stepping stone on your way to establishing a real sales rapport with your prospect. Simply say something like: “I understand, Mr Prospect. Your answer is no. That’s not a problem. May I continue to reach out to you with new ideas and new offers?” The answer will usually be, “Yes”.
As I also said earlier, there are all kinds of closing techniques; enough to keep you learning for years. You can spend hours online researching, or you can be coached, but here’s a thought, whatever closing techniques you decide suit you, they all require practice. I’ve said this a million times to the sales people I’ve coached: “Professionals practice, amateurs wing it.” You are professional sales people. You need to practice; you have to get your closing techniques down to a science. Be as well-armed as it is possible for you to be when you are talking to a potential buyer. When told he was a lucky player, golfing great Arnold Palmer is reputed to have replied, “Funny thing, the more I practice, the luckier I get!” How lucky in sales do you want to be?
About the author: Ryan Dohrn is a 25 year media sales and marketing veteran. He has personally trained over 6,000 ad sales professionals and, he still sells media today. Learn more about Ryan online at: http://360AdSales.com.