In the last issue, we discussed The Presentation Step, and how to create excitement and motivation to buy. The Transaction is the fifth step of the “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.
The Transaction is that exciting moment when the customer signs the paperwork, writes a check, or hands over their credit card. Traditionally called the “Close,” guerrillas know that this is really the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship.
“Are You Sure?”
As you finish your Presentation, prospects sometimes stiffen. They’re thinking, “UH-oh, here comes the contract.” Many customers dread this moment even if they really need the product, because they feel they’re losing control, Understanding this, guerrillas end the Presentation Stage, with something like:
“No, not really.”
“What do you see as the next step?”
“Well, don’t you have to write up an order?”
“Do you want me to write up the order?
“Yes. Let’s do this.”
You know you’ve done everything right when the customer asks you to write up the order. With that, the guerrilla fills out the order form, writes up a contract or prepares the financial paperwork. Now the guerrilla hands the form to his new customer for his or her “approval.”
As the new customer is about to sign, the guerrilla gently interrupts:
“You know, something’s still bothering me. Remember when you said you wanted mahogany? Are you sure walnut is going to be okay?”
What the guerrilla wants to hear is something like: “Yes, in fact, walnut is really going to be much better. It will be cheaper and probably fit in better with our decor.”
In the Transaction Stage, a guerrilla will recall at least one problem or objection, from earlier in the conversation, express genuine concern, and ask again if the concern is going to be a problem. In so doing, not only are you turning control back to your customer, but you’re pre-empting buyer’s remorse. By capping the issue now, the guerrilla pre-empts buyer’s remorse.
When to Close
The best time to close is all the time. Recognize that you have an opportunity to close any time the prospect makes choices, challenges, or changes.
Close any time there is a choice or small decision to be made, and that’s more often than you might think. Close early and often, especially on little things. Because people hate making big decisions, close on the small ones.
Always try to close after answering a challenge or objection. If they accept your response, they will be psychologically receptive to making a commitment. Guerrilla salespeople automatically finish their Presentation with a closing question, like, “Did I answer your question adequately?” or “Is that clear now?”
Also close any time there are changes in your prospects’ body language or changes in their criteria that could be interpreted as buying signals.
Five Types of Closes:
There are five basic closes and infinite variations. They all have the same objective: to give the prospect an opportunity to say, “Yes.”
In the Prescription Close, you carefully probe, ask questions, summarize the problem, and then prescribe the solution. “Based on what you’ve told me, I would recommend . . .. Here’s what you’re going to need.” This tactic is effective if the prospect trusts your expertise.
2. The Action Close
Pull out your pen and you start filling out the form, or phone the installer to set an appointment. Or you might say, “Let me see if we’ve got that in stock. I’ll be right back,” and disappear into to the stockroom.
Return with the box in your arms and ask, “Okay, where are you parked?” You know the deal is done when the prospect holds the door for you.
3. The Choice Close
Give them a minor decision that carries the major decision along with it. This can be useful when breaking down a large decision into smaller, increments. You’ve been looking at a $30,000 automobile and the guerrilla salesman says, “Would you like to put the stereo in the dash, or would you rather conceal it under the seat?” Now, you have a small decision to make.
“Well, it would be more convenient in the dash.” Not only have you bought the stereo, but of course, the car as well.
4. The Question Close
In the Question Close, you ask a question, which, when answered, gives you permission to proceed. You might ask, with pen in hand, “What’s today’s date?” When prospect answers, they’ve given you permission to proceed. Or you might ask, “Excuse me, how do you spell your last name?” When they provide the missing information, they’re saying, indirectly, “Yes, I’m ready. Let’s go ahead with this.” You’ve avoided putting them on the spot by asking, “Well, do you want me to write this up or not?”
5. The Add-on Close
The key phrase of the Add-on Close is, “Now you’ll also need. . .,” proposing some low-cost option or accessory. “You’ll also need one of these to keep your blade nice and sharp. They’re only ten dollars.” When they agree to the blade sharpener, they’ve bought the lawn mower. Guerrillas repeat the Add-on close until they get a “no.” That’s when they know they have reached the limits of the prospect’s budget.
Close Early and Often
People do not want to be pressured. They want to make their own decisions, and they resent being pushed too hard. The goal is to make them feel that buying today is the most natural, intelligent decision that they could make. Closing repeatedly will not only increase your sales, but also help prospects make good choices, and increase their respect for you. So don’t stop until you have used at least three guerrilla closes.
When selling a new stereo system, a guerrilla we know combines the Question, Action and Add-on Close at the very beginning of his presentation by asking, “How far from the amplifier will you be putting the loudspeakers?” Based on the prospect’s answer, he goes to the service counter, measures off the necessary length of wire, cuts it, ties it in a bundle and hands it to the prospect. Now he’s setting through the Presentation, already holding the first component of his new stereo.
Silence is Golden
People are less suspicious than many salespeople believe, but they are also more sophisticated. The public is as smart as your mother, and you know she’s no dummy. People know when you’re asking them to take some action, and if they’re not ready, they’ll let you know. Top salespeople will confirm that the simple, direct, unsophisticated closes can be very effective, but only if you use them.
In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.
In the last issue, we discussed how to determine your customer’s budget as the second step of our “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.
The Commitment Step
In this critical step, you actually close the sale before making a presentation, by aligning your product or service with those criteria to which your customer is already committed. In the automobile industry it’s said that only 50% of the cars are sold. The other half are bought.
As often as not, your prospects have already decided to buy, before you get to talk to them. Car buyers are much more likely to be influenced by experience, friends, or media than by a salesperson.
A couple looking at a potential venue for their wedding reception has already committed to marrying each other. If they’ve also set the date and decided how many guests they will have, then you know they are ready to buy. Ask about other elements of their plans.
“Who have you arranged to do the catering?”
“Where will you hold the formal ceremony?”
“What transportation will you use from the church to the reception?”
“Will you want help with the decorating?”
The more complete their picture, the deeper their commitment. So, for example, if the ceremony is being conducted at the church just up the street, you can emphasize the advantage of your location. “This will give your family a short, easy trip from the church.” If you know they’ve ordered an elaborate, expensive cake, you can emphasize the posh surrounding of your hotel. “Everyone will be impressed when you invite them into our lovely gardens.”
The prospect will also have a set of physical specifications that the product or service must meet, in order to be satisfied. As in “it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” or “I’m looking for a dress in a size seven.” The guerrilla listens for these criteria words and notes them throughout the interview. Ask:
“What are you using now?”
“What do you like most about it?”
“What do you like least about it?”
These answers tell you what they want to keep, and what they want to change. Concentrate on those issues, and safely ignore everything else, because people do things for their reasons, not yours. You may have a hundred good reasons why they should buy this particular mountain home; price, location, good roads, rapid appreciation, close to schools, shops, recreation, and you know what? They couldn’t care less. No matter how good your reasons may be, ultimately, their reasons will prevail.
Other criteria may be introduced as the conversation continues, but the guerrilla concentrates only on those priority words and criteria words isolated by the prospect.
It’s also useful to isolate the mental and physical steps your prospect follows when making a decision. People have a mental roadmap that they follow when making decisions. This strategy is unique to each prospect, but they tend to use the same strategy whenever they make a buying decision. The question that you can use to elicit their roadmap is to ask, “How did you decide . . .?” For example, a real estate agent might ask, “How did you decide to buy the house where you live now?” then listen carefully to their explanation.
“First we narrowed the search to a particular neighborhood where we wanted to live, then we checked all the listings, marking each address on a map. Then we looked at each house until we found the one that felt right.”
This answer reveals not only the criteria, but the roadmap of their house-buying strategy. If you lead them through the same progression, it makes it easy for them to buy from you. Start by “narrowing down” to the particular neighborhoods they liked best, then pull out a map, and start “marking.” Like a familiar chair, following their roadmap puts you in the selling “groove”. Besides, they’re going to buy the house their way, anyway. If not from you, then from someone who makes them feel more comfortable. So you might as well match their strategy. Listen for the sequence of the process they follow when making a similar decision, and then systematically structure your case using the same progression.
Is That Clear?
Sometimes the customer doesn’t really know what they want. Let’s take the case of a copier salesperson. If you ask the question, “What do you want in a copier?” and the response you get is something like, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure,” there are additional things you can do to get to their criteria. You can ask, “What are you using now? What do you like most about that?” or “What’s the exact problem you’re trying to solve?”
“We are using an HP LaserJet.”
“What do you like most about your LaserJet?” he asked, repeating the prospect’s criteria words.
“It’s inexpensive to operate, and the copies are crisp and clear.”
“What do you like least about your LaserJet?”
“It’s too slow, and it wasn’t able to print collated and stapled documents.”
Now we’re getting criteria language: inexpensive, crisp, clear, (visual cues, you’ll notice) as well as the functional need for automatic collating and stapling. If you can show her that your copier will do it more quickly, collate and staple documents, and still reduce their operating cost, she’s going to lease the copier. And she really doesn’t care how many pixels of resolution it has, or how many reams of paper the bins will store, or what its internal drum speed is, so long as they get “collated, stapled copies that are crisp and clear.” This decision will hinge primarily on these five factors. You can ignore the rest, (at least for now) because. These five words are the keys to unlocking their sub-conscious mind.
Remember, priorities, criteria words and roadmaps are often unique to the context in which they’re used. The way your prospect makes decisions about buying office supplies may be very different from what they look for when shopping for a car.
Some additional questions for isolating criteria include:
“What is your main objective?”
“What are you doing to deal with that situation?”
“What are your plans for the future?”
“How do you plan to get it done?”
“Can you tell me more about that?”
“Is there a deadline?”
The answers to these questions will provide the performance specifications for your proposal. Whatever else this product may have going for it, must satisfy these physical criteria. Now present your product using the same criteria words, and follow their roadmap directly to the sale.
In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales. This article was originally published in Marketing Africa magazine.
You’ve done it. You buy a can of Coke® from a vending machine for a buck. Order that same Coke in a restaurant and it comes in a glass, with ice, and a straw, and it’s $3.75. Are the glass and the ice and the straw really worth $2.75? Apparently. People do it all the time, and never whine about the price.
Here’s a list of ten ways you can bring more value to your offering. Find three that you can apply right now.
People will pay more for quality. The Maytag repairman isn’t just lonely. He’s old and lonely. Show your prospect that the lifetime value of your offering is far superior to your competitors’.
People will pay more for superior service. Why do you think people pay twice as much for a suit at Nordstrom’s then they would at Men’s Wearhouse? They value the service – expert tailoring, multiple fittings, free monogramming – and all this makes up for the additional money they will spend.
Authenticity means the real deal – the genuine article. At the Louvre Museum in Paris, you can gaze upon what is perhaps the most famous work of art in the world: Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, commonly known as the Mona Lisa.
For all the hype, it was quite a disappointment. The painting hangs alone in a large hall in dim light, cloistered behind thick plates of bullet-proof Lexan. And it’s small; only 21 x 39 inches. Mrs. Gherardini has not aged well over the past 500 years. The paint is cracked and the colors are smoky and faded.
However, scientists have analyzed the pigments and digitally recreated this masterpiece just as it would have looked standing wet on Da Vinci’s easel in 1506. The reproduction is ascetically superior in every way, and you can buy the poster-sized print in the museum gift shop for only twenty Euros, while the original, of course, is considered priceless.
Company stability means a company that’s been in business since the landing at Plymouth Rock. Do you tell the story about how your Grandfather came from the Olde Country and started the business with his brother and cousin in the back of their barn? You share that history because people put a high value on stability and longevity in business. No one wants to be a beta test.
People are busy and when they find a vendor they can count on, they buy from them again and again. How do you demonstrate to your customer that you’re reliable? Does someone answer the phone on a second ring? Do you show up for appointments exactly on time? Everything you do (or don’t do) sends a message about your reliability.
6. Social or Ecological Values
Do you recycle? Do you use recycled paper in all your packaging and correspondence? Are you running alternative fuels in your fleet? These issues have become more and more important in recent years. Seventy-eight percent of consumers said they would pay $2,000 more for a car that gets 35 miles per gallon, even though that only makes economic sense if gasoline is in the range of $4.00 a gallon (that’s more than I pay for wine!). Meanwhile, the Prius was voted Number One Most Ecologically Sensitive Product of the last decade.
People routinely pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a nick-knack at a silent auction raising money for a scout troop, church group, or political cause. At this year’s Cigar PEG celebrity auction, the three-day elite speaker coaching package I donated raised $22,500.00 for the National Speakers Association Foundation.
This is why you pay fifteen dollars for FedEx instead of 52 cents for first-class mail. People want the product in their hands immediately. Whether it’s delivering a customized pen in less than the time promised, or completing their project a week ahead of schedule, people don’t just want what they paid for when it’s expected, but BEFORE it’s due.
Even Time Magazine, offers “Three easy payments of $9.95.” So, when you have a good customer who’s shopping for terms, you can say, “Well, we can give you 2% net 30, or 90-days net. Take your pick.” This also proves to the customer that you value them enough to be flexible on terms.
9. Local Sourcing
Eighty-two percent of people surveyed have consciously supported local or neighborhood businesses. People like to be a part of a community, and will pay higher prices to support local vendors. Need proof? Compare prices at your local farmer’s market with those at a big-box store.
There’s a two-pump garage and gas station in the tiny Colorado mountain town where we live called Carl’s Corner. I’ve been buying gas from Carl for more than 20 years, and my wife is always giving me a hard time about it. She says, “Why buy gas at Carl’s when we can get it cheaper at the Conoco in Boulder?”
“Because we need more than just gas,” I remind her. “We need Carl. We need him when we have a flat. We need him when we have a dead battery. We need him when we slide off the snowy road and get stuck in a drift. We even need him when we run out of gas for the grill. And if we don’t keep his garage open, then we won’t have a mechanic in the canyon at all.”
Regardless of what someone is buying, or how much they pay, they want to have FUN and feel good about their purchase. How can you add a fun factor so your buyers enjoy the experience and keep coming back?
You’ve seen this guerrilla tactic in action if you’ve ever bought fish at Seattle’s Pike Street Market.
What can you use from this list to justify your higher price? Many of these are things that you’re ALREADY doing, but not taking the proper credit. Make certain that you explain ALL the aspects of your product or service that makes you more valuable to your customer. Focus on your uniqueness and what you bring to the table that your competitors are ignoring.
This is only part of a list of 31 Reasons Customers Will Pay More. Watch the new seven-part video, “Guerrilla Tactics to Sell at Higher Prices,” at: http://vimeo.com/user6769112/videos
In any business, people are your most important asset. A great location, great name, great merchandise, a great display and great promotion can all be undone by less-than-great people. Your staff is the most expensive item in your budget and the most important business investment you’ll make, so take time to choose them wisely.
The most universal complaint I hear from business owners is, “We just can’t find good people.” Well, let me encourage you. They’re out there, and your mission is to track them down and then persuade them to join your team.
Guerrillas know that their team is the glue that holds their business together – from their sales associates to their cashiers, bookkeepers and delivery drivers. So you have to put the same effort into recruiting a stock clerk as you would when hiring a merchandising manager. Although the specific example we’ll illustrate here refers to sales guerrillas, these techniques will work to help you hire the cream of the crop for any position.
Because the best predictor of future sales behavior is current sales behavior, guerrillas are always on the hunt for good people. You’ll find them serving you in restaurants, shops, hotels, spas, museums and cafes. Whenever someone really impresses you with their sales or customer service skills, ask for their name and number. Let them know that, while you may not have an opening right now, you’re always looking for good people, and you’d like to have permission to call them if something opens up. This way, you’ll always have a backlog of qualified candidates.
This is also a good reason to regularly shop your competitors. We know it sounds a bit mercenary, but you would be appalled at how poorly some companies treat their best people! And when you hire away one of their best, you win twice – you gain a skilled employee at your competitor’s expense.
When screening sales applicants you need to give them an opportunity to showcase their sales skills before putting them in front of customers. By seeing how well they sell themselves to you, you can predict with remarkable accuracy how effective they will be at selling others.
Here’s a simple system that can streamline the screening and ensure that you are getting the best of the best. Set up a voicemail box on a DDE (direct-dial extension that only goes to voice mail; ask your phone company). Then run your classified ad outlining the basic qualifications for the job, but do not mention the name of your business. Instead, in the last sentence of the ad use the phrase, “To schedule an interview call (the DDE phone number).”
The outbound recording should say, “Because of the overwhelming response to or ad, we’ve had to automate our screening process. At the tone, please leave your name, a number where you can be reached, and a brief summary of your qualifications. If your background matches our requirements, we may invite you for an interview.” BEEEEP. Let it run for a day or two to accumulate messages.
When playing the messages back, be prepared with a pad and pen. You’ll want to take notes. Start by really listening to the voice. Is it warm, friendly and intelligent? Is this the voice of someone who you would feel comfortable representing your firm? If not, delete it and move on.
Then listen to the message a second time, and check:
• Did the candidate follow directions?
• Did they in fact leave their name, an after-hours number (or better still, several)
• Did they leave a summary of their qualifications, and in that order?
This will predict how easy (or difficult) they will be to manage. Did they just rattle off their resume, or did they couch their experience in terms of skills? “I’m very good with computers,” or “I’d do a great job because I love working with customers.”
And finally, did this candidate close with some sort of call to action, “asking for the order” (or in this case the interview). If they pass all four of these tests, then call back and interview them initially by phone. You don’t want their physical appearance to bias your choice prematurely.
This process will give you a better idea of each candidate’s strengths before you waste time brining in people who are not a good fit. Implementing some sort of system to streamline the screening will help weed out the lazy and unqualified. This strategy will help you build the best possible retail team that will only improve your team morale and your business as a whole.