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Setting the Stage for the Up Front Close

If you’re in sales you can probably relate to
the following scenario. You met with a prospective client and immediately had
great rapport, which opened the door for you to compete for their business. You
gathered the necessary information and provided them a better deal than they
currently had. They asked for time to think it over and consider a couple of
other quotes. Despite all the positive indicators, in a follow up phone call
you learned they opted for another provider. You’re left wondering what you
could have done differently to seal the deal.

Sound familiar? One way to reduce the odds of
that happening is to engage the principle of consistency through a technique
known as the “up front close.” Consistency is the principle of influence that
tells us people feel internal psychological pressure and external pressure to
be consistent in what they say and do. Getting someone to commit to you early
on exactly what it will take to win their business is what the up front close
is all about. It might look like this:

“Mr. Smith, I’d like to know exactly what
it will take in order for you to move your business to our firm. If I can’t do
something you require I’ll let you know right away and save us both time. How
does that sound?”

 Your goal is to find out all the things you
need to do for the customer in order for them to make the switch to your
company. If you can’t meet the price, delivery date, service requirements,
etc., then let the customer know and remove yourself from the sales process as
soon as possible. If you think you can meet all the requirements then go for it
and use their requirements as leverage during the sales presentation.
During a recent coaching call a graduate of
one of my Principles of Persuasion (POP) workshops asked how he could easily and naturally work his way into
the up front close. That’s a great question because you don’t want to jump
right into the up front close in the first five minutes of meeting a potential
customer. It takes some finesse but you can do it! Here’s how I would envision
using questions in a natural, ethical manner to move into the up front close.

Salesperson – It looks as if business is going
great and you seem like you’re very busy.

Customer – Never been busier but I suppose
that’s a good thing in this economy.

Salesperson – Agreed, better too busy than not
busy enough. With all that’s going on I’m going to guess saving time is pretty
important for you?

Customer – You bet. I’m usually in here by 7 a.m.
and rarely leave before 6 p.m.. I even put in extra time on the weekends.

Salesperson – I have many days like that myself.
If you’re like most people I talk with buying insurance isn’t high on your list of fun
activities. It’s not like planning a vacation or shopping for a new car. Knowing
that, I have an idea that might save us both a good bit of time when it comes
to your insurance. Would you like to hear it?

Customer – I’m all ears.

Salesperson – Since the insurance buying
process is a necessity I’m sure other agents are competing for your business. While
that’s a good thing, you probably don’t want to deal with any more agents than
you have to in order to complete the process, right?

Customer – Exactly. It’s a necessary evil and
time consuming. That’s why we only put it out to bid every two or three years.

Salesperson – Here’s what I propose that could
save us both time. I’d like to know exactly what it would take in order for you
to move your business to our agency. If I can’t do something you require I’ll
let you know right away and remove myself from the quoting process and save us
both time. How does that approach sound?

Customer – I think that’s a great approach.

From this point forward the salesperson has to
use good questioning techniques to learn the key factors in the buying
decision. The conversation should end something like this:

Salesperson – We’ve covered a lot of ground
today! If I understand you correctly we need to do A, B and C in order to
become your new insurance agent. Am I correct?

Customer – That’s right, A, B and C are
critical.

Salesperson – And there’s no other reason you
wouldn’t make the switch if we do A, B and C?

Customer – Nope. You do those three things and
we’re in business together.

If you return to the office and realize you
can’t do all three just let the customer know right away. But, if you can do
all three that becomes you’re leverage to easily ask for the business when you
present your proposal. Will everyone say “Yes” at that point? No, because
sometimes things change. However, using this approach will get far more
customers saying, “Yes” because the psychology of consistency drives them to naturally
do that.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
 
 

Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell

One of the biggest reasons salespeople fail to make the sale is simply because they don’t ask for it. It’s easy to tell someone all about your company, product or service. After all, a good salesperson will know about these things backwards and forwards. However, asking for the sale (a.k.a. “closing the sale”) can be scary because of the fear of rejection.

Some of the biggest regrets people have are not when they stepped out and failed but when they failed to step out. When we don’t take a chance we’re often haunted by what might have been and ask ourselves, “What if…?”

Studies show people who ask for favors often underestimate the number of people who would be willing to help. In fact, they underestimate it by a lot! In one study, when asked how may strangers they’d have to ask to walk them a few blocks to a location they’ve been unable to find on a college campus, most people assumed they’d have to ask seven or more strangers before one person would take the time necessary to help. However, when they actually asked for help, the number of people they had to approach was only two or three before they got the help they needed. If you knew people would most likely respond positively to you twice as often as you thought they would, you’d probably have a lot more confidence to ask.

Having been a consumer all my life and teaching sales for the past 20 years, I can tell you most salespeople fail to ask for the sale. They might fear being seen as too pushy or believe the prospective customer can sort out all the product features, weigh the benefits against the cost, and make a decision that’s in their best interest.

But here’s the problem – as consumers, when we’re making purchases sometimes we’re overwhelmed by all the choices and price points. And the more money we’re about to spend the scarier it can be because we want to make sure we make the best choice. We want to avoid “buyer’s remorse.” A salesperson can alleviate much of that anxiety throughout the sales process but in the end the salesperson still needs to ask for the sale.

One way to lessen the fear and increase the odds of hearing “Yes” is to learn up front exactly what the customer is looking for. If the salesperson can meet the customer’s requirements, then simply asking the following should work: “If we can get you A, B and C at a fair price, would you seriously consider buying from us?” Most people will agree to that; then it’s up to the salesperson to show their product or service has all the required features. This is known as “the up-front close” in sales circles.

The reason this approach can be so effective is because the principle of consistency comes into play. This principle of influence tells us people generally live up to their word because they feel a little bad about themselves when they don’t. If someone says they’ll strongly consider you, your company or your product/service, then odds are they will if you can deliver what you said you would.

Once the salesperson has asked the right questions up front and then clearly shows how their offering meets the requirements it becomes much easier and more comfortable to take the next step and ask for the sale. It’s like dating. Wasn’t it easier to ask for a date when you knew beforehand the other person was interested in you?

Here’s my persuasion advice. You don’t have to live with the regret of what might have been. Remember, people are more likely to say “Yes” than you probably think. If you use the up-front close the odds that a customer will say “Yes” are significantly better. So remember – Don’t ask, don’t sell.