To buy.......or how to use closing questions effectively.......
You have an opportunity to sell to a client. You have prepared for the occasion, done your homework and understand the client’s fears, needs and desires. Your pitch is word perfect...And yet. You could still walk out of the meeting room (or put down the phone) with no sale.
Unless you understand how to help your client buy. It is as simple as that: stop selling and help your client to make the right decision. Here’s how.
Before the meeting
As part of your preparation for the meeting, have a think about the questions that you might ask if YOU were the client. Make sure you have answers for them, but also make sure that you encourage the client to ask in the first place. Yes, of course, it’s great to look as if you have thought of everything – but didn’t your mum ever tell you that nobody likes a smart alec? What’s more, by allowing the client to ask, you show your consideration for their concerns and allow them to feel more involved in the process.
During the meeting
Some people call this “preparing for yes!” I think it just makes sense – and makes the sales process more of a conversation. In my experience, most lawyers find this method much more comfortable.
Remember – this isnt a lecture or an exam
You arent being tested on your knowledge, you are explaining something to someone who has (a lot) less knowledge than you. So, you need to find out what they know and check that they understand your explanation as you go along.
Questions to ask: “What have you heard about us?”, “What do you think so far?”, “Does that make sense”, “Any questions so far?”, “Can you see how that might work for you?”
You are looking not just for an encouraging answer but also encouraging body language. If you think that the answer is not really “Yes I completely get it, please go on” then stop, ask some more questions, backtrack and then move forward only when you get the green light again.
Help the client to see how having you on board would really make a difference to them
In my book, it’s shortsighted, stupid and simply unethical to sell something to somebody that they really don’t want or need. In doing so, you rob yourself of the opportunity to sell them something wonderful at a later date! So, take that pressure off yourself – you are going to make this sale only if the client really wants and needs it. Your job now is to get down and dirty with the details of what the client is looking for so that you don’t miss the opportunity if, in fact, this is exactly right in a Goldilocks type way.
Questions to ask: “What do you need to achieve?” “What’s on your ‘if only’ list of features?” “What is it about us that really appeals to you?” “You mentioned x, why do you need that?”
Listen carefully to the answers and how they are answered. Check with the client that you have understood the issue. Look for opportunities to confirm how your service will fit the bill, but not
before the client knows that you have really paid attention to their answer. “Bank” their understanding by checking yours: “So you are saying that you really need a service that delivers x”, wait for the agreement and move on.
Then you can start to help the client envisage how your service would fit in their business and answer their needs. Ask questions that are encouraging and positive.
Questions to ask: “Can you see how this might work for you?” “What do you think about [feature]? Can you see how that would benefit your business?” “Would that be useful to you?” “What problems would this solve for you?””Is this the sort of thing you were looking for?” ”Which aspects do you think would be of most benefit to you?” “Which of these optional extras would you prefer?”
Questions to ask: “What haven’t I covered that you were interested in hearing about today?”
All this is intended to make the final part of the meeting easier.
At this point, if you have asked the right questions and listened carefully your client will now understand as much as they need to in order to make a good decision. Equally, you should by now be an expert on how your service will work in their business, what the downsides might be and how you will have to overcome them.
You will know by now if the service is one that your client needs – if not, thank her for her time, offer a referral and ask if you can send her details of your service in case her needs change.
If it is, you move from role as expert explainer to one of facilitator. You are going to help the client work out what she needs to do to buy.
Questions to ask: “If you decide to buy from us, what do you need to do to get this in place?” “If you chose us, is there anything that might stop you from signing up?” “What do you need from me to make this happen?”
Once you have the answers, you can help her problem solve to the solution. Offer to give her the contract, if possible already personalised. And always arrange a next step – when will you see her, talk to her, write to her next. People buying experience stress at the moment of decision – by actively helping her to buy and by moving the action forward past the sale, you help to diminish that moment of stress.
Then celebrate a job well done. You have helped a client buy something that is not just excellent but which meets their needs and desires. Well done!
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