Patient persistence vs. the clever close!

If you’ve ever been on a sales course, read any books on selling or tried to sell anything to anybody you will have learned that one of the most important elements to master is ‘closing’ the deal. The art of ‘the close’ has been debated, dissected, and reinvented countless times – even back to the days of barter and haggle in ancient street markets.

Does ‘closing the deal’ really work?

In its simplest form, closing the deal consists of nothing more than just asking for the business: “Thank you for your time, I hope I have answered all of your questions – to get you started I just need you to sign here.”

Cleverer formats include ‘the alternative close’ where the salesman gives their prospective customer a choice – one where saying ‘no’ is not one of the options: “…would you like your first delivery on Tuesday or Thursday?”

But there is a problem with clever closing! You see, people do not like to feel manipulated. The world has changed and, particularly with the emergence of social media and online reviews, most prospects prefer to do their own research into a product before buying. A salesman’s words are no longer enough because evidence based on the testimony of first-hand consumer experience is so readily available to anyone.

Is the salesman’s role a dying one?

The most successful salespeople have always been the ones who get on best with other people. Let’s put to one side the Sharks for a moment: those who are out to make a quick sale, with no regard for the buyer’s need and no interest in building a lasting relationship based on trust. I’m talking about the ‘noble art’ of sales. Where ‘people buy people’ and the first financial transaction between businesses and consumers leads to trust, ongoing mutual benefit and the opening of doors to other opportunities.

Even where a business has that sort of sales ambition, however, the same problem arises… getting past the first post and making that first sale. So we come back to the manipulation of closing the deal! While I am not totally averse to applying skilful communication techniques to make a sale – it is the implied trickery involved which bothers me!

And the statistics agree (by over 3000%)

A study into ‘why people buy’ showed that 73% of business buyers say ‘no’ at least five times to any salesperson before eventually saying ‘yes’ to that same salesperson. The same research revealed that a staggering 92% of salespeople give up and move on to another target before they get to that ‘yes’.

Think about that for a moment! 92% of salespeople are rushing from prospect to prospect chasing the 27% of sales where the buying decisions are made quickly. That means that only 8% of salespeople (the patient and persistent ones) stand any chance of winning the other 73% of the business that is available! Putting it another way, for every one new sale the impatient salesman wins, the patient salesman wins thirty-one new sales.

That is over 3000% more!

I believe that this persistent approach works better because of the element of human nature I alluded to earlier. People buy people! So when a salesperson is continually coming back, the buyer sees them more often, gets to know them, realises that they must believe in their own product, sees that they care, and so many other positives emotions and connections are formed… etc.

Demonstrate your commitment; don’t just use clever words and spin!