Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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Making the sale

If you want the business, you have to ask for it

A young girl walks into a local business carrying a box. She asks the salesperson if she could see the owner of the business. After being escorted to the office, the owner of the business invites her in and offers her a seat.

Using what she was taught, she explains she is a member of a local youth organization and she is selling packages of popcorn as a fund raiser project so that she and other members of her group can perform some local charitable work.

While the owner has listened to this young girl doing a great job of repeating the script, the last thing the owner wants to buy is a box of popcorn. As a way of politely getting out of the situation of having to open their wallet and spend money, the business owner says, “I think my spouse has already bought some”.

Surely, that line is going to cause most any salesperson, young or old, to fold up their sales effort and move onto the next opportunity. But not this girl. Remaining in the seat, the young girl reaches over to the phone on the desk, pulls it closer to the business owner, and without a moment’s hesitation says, “Why don’t we call her and ask? Just to make sure.”

This is probably where many of us think we have just observed a natural born salesperson. While we will never know where she got this closing sales line, or who taught it to her, we can agree she is one of those individuals that has learned how to make the effort to close a sale. Far too many people display great sales skills but fail to simply ask for the sale. In her own way, this young girl was asking for the sale.

In any small business, we can tell our staff to ask for the sale, but perhaps what needs to be done is sharing with the staff how they can close the sale. In addition to the one we have just learned from the young girl, let’s briefly take a look at eight more. Think of this like a cat having nine lives, as this will give you a total of nine ways to keep the sales opportunity alive.

#1 – In making a sale, we should always have multiple products before the customer; different sizes, different colors, but definitely different prices. This is done to keep the customer actively engaged in the sale. The closing is as simple as asking which one the customer wants.

#2 – For most everything we can sell, there are accessory or add-on items that can go with the product the customer has initially selected. The closing is to begin showing the accessory or add-on items. Without saying a word, the sale is being made and progressing to the additional items.

#3 – Answer a question with a question. If the customer asks if the item is available in a larger size, simply ask, “Would you like it in a larger size?” Indirectly, you have asked for the sale.

#4 – Undoubtedly at some point you are going to show a customer an item they don’t like. They will tell you they don’t like it, and yet it may be the item that is best for them and their particular needs. Your closing is, “I know how you feel. I used to feel the same way until I found out that (finish with appropriate information)”. This allows you to give information to the customer without telling them they are wrong.

#5 – In appropriate situations, you can let the customer know that today is the last day the item is going to be on sale. Perhaps it will be correct to tell the customer this is the last one of that item. With each of these, you are placing a sense of urgency before the customer so they make their decision.

#6 – Share a story of relevancy. Your customer may need a bit of reassurance. Tell the customer about the positive experience another customer has had with the same product. “Allow me to assist you with your concern by telling you about someone that bought this item last week and came in to tell me how much they are enjoying it”, could be your way of soothing a concern.

#7 – Ask the customer for help. In the situation where the customer has said they are not going to make a purchase, ask them for their help. Explain that you are working to improve your sales skills. You believe you have given your best effort to make the sale and would now appreciate their honest feedback as to what you could have done differently that would have made the customer’s experience different. Strangely enough, many a customer will make comments that will then help them to close the sale themselves.

#8 – When the customer appears to be ‘stuck’ and unable to make the decision, you can often close the sale by simply asking, “Is this the one you are selecting?” Many a customer just needs that simple verbal nudge to make the decision to make the purchase.

It is likely that no one reading this article can, or would be comfortable with, using all nine of these closings. That is a decision that only you can make. For those closings you like but are not comfortable with, it is a matter of taking time to practice them. You can practice them alone, with co-workers, and finally with a customer.

Nine potential closings provide you with nine opportunities to keep the potential sale alive. You will have nine lives – just like the cat. Now if we could only find a way to get, “Here customer, customer. Come here customer, customer.” as an expression to call them to your business.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars, Profits Plus Solutions coaching, books authored, and articles written. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his web site:

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St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
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