Don’t be a closer
One of the most common skills that any sale rep aims to master is the art of closing a deal. There’s countless books and blog posts on this with the main focus, unfortunately, on using psychological tactics to corner leads into buying. The reality is, even though this might work, no one feels great about forcefully twisting people into a purchase — not the sales rep that sold the unwanted product, or the customer that feels like they just got conned. It’s also unnatural to use some of the terminology and wording from these tactics. The majority of sales people that actually would do this probably don’t have careers in sales for very long (or they just don’t have a soul, either or).
Rather than focusing on closing deal, the focus should be on opening deals better. This means really diving into the reason for the inquiry, discovering the real pain points (people don’t like to say their real problem the first time), and why now would make sense for a change. If you’re able to open deals better, then you’re able to discover what the lead really needs and thus provide a proper solution. Simply, if the lead has a real problem and you could provide a solution — why won’t they close? There shouldn’t be a need to pressure them into anything.
Now, the psychological aspect of sales definitely does exist, and should be employed. But in a different way than most of these “master of closing” experts would prescribe. Three approaches that stand out to me are:
- gaining commitment:
This is essentially asking, “does this look like what you’re looking for?”. The verbal articulation that the solution looks like a fit creates a sense of commitment. For the rep, this helps confirm that there is a fit and it’s worth spending more time with the lead.
- social norm
Anytime you’re making a change, there is uncertainty. In addition to this, no one wants to be the first person to ever do anything as the likelihood of failure is significantly higher. Providing examples and case studies of similar companies that the product has helped creates safety. This normalizes the move, and makes a decision for a change easier to make.
Humans naturally like to match the pace and energy level with those they’re talking with, since we’re programmed to avoid conflict. So, if a sale reps is excited when describing the benefits of the product and how it’s been useful for other like them, the lead will unconsciously match their excitement level. After the call, the memory attached to the product will be filled with positive attributes.
So there’s definitely a place to employ tactics that are designed from understanding human behaviour. However, it’s best to use them to open better rather than closing.