The art of closing sales

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM SPA CANADA MAGAZINE

By JIM CARR

GARY FORD,  author, seminar speaker and expert on selling, doesn’t believe in standing still, either on the seminar floor or in business. He loves to move among seminar participants and make a point with a joke.

But when he stops and lowers his voice to talk about the gentle art of closing, you can almost hear the clock on the back wall holding its breath.

Later, when I asked him about the problem spas have in selling products to clients, he didn’t seem surprised.

For spas, nothing seems to work. Not the beautiful shiny-colored brochures. Not the pep talks by product distributors and spa managers. Not incentives. Nothing.

No matter what, spa staff it seems just doesn’t want to sell products to their clients. And if you ask them why, they’ll tell you they don’t want to feel pushy or being perceived as pushy.

“But that’s not the real problem,” says Gary, who has talked about this problem to more than 10,000 seminar participants over the past two years. “For most people, it’s a fear that the client might say No. That, and a natural tendency for most of us to take that No as a personal rejection.”

There is a way for spas to deal with this, he adds. A simple way. Help your staff present the product in a way that even if the client says No, they won’t take it personally. Make the client’s No be for another reason.

When was vice-president at one of Canada’s financial institutions, Gary had to deal with lagging sales of its service charge packages at the branch level. He found that 24% of the people who shopped online purchased the most expensive package, compared with 4% when offered the same package by branch staff.

A huge disconnect between the people who bought on the web and the people who went to the branch and bought. Why? Because branch staff offered the cheapest package first – in direct contrast to the web, which presents the most expensive package first.

“All I did was change how branch staff broached the service charge package with customers. Instead of recommending the most expensive one, staff were asked to approach customers this way: Let me show you our best service package.

That simple statement changed everything. It became the bank’s fault if the customer rejected it for pricing the package that way. Not theirs. In this case, staff would then say: Here’s our next best package, without feeling any sense of rejection. The result: Many branches doubled their service change revenue in a matter of two months.

The key, in every instance, says Gary, is finding a way for staff not to take a No as a personal rejection. “If you don’t, your staff will feel rejected with every No they get from clients, and after a few No’s, they won’t even try.”

And always, always, offer your most expensive package or product first. If you’ve got a spa package of four or five treatments that costs $400, your staff can use essentially the same approach: The spa is offering this great package. It costs $400 but here’s what it will do for you. Or let me show you the spa’s best package. If you get a No, then say: We also have this package which does …

How your products are displayed is equally important. Offer your clients a choice. Show them three packages – from the most expensive to the least expensive.

When he was called in by a major national retailer to help them increase sales of their most expensive expresso coffeemakers, he knew what had to be done as soon as he saw how they were displayed. The store offered two models – on for $98 and the other, for $210. Buyers took the cheaper one 70% of the time.

“I suggested a third option – a more expensive model selling for $398. The store only had to buy one. It was put on display with the others – and was the first one buyers looked at. The second was the $210 model. This not only gave buyers another option, it also enabled them to compare the features of all three. They ended up choosing the $210 model at least 70% of the time. The store didn’t sell any more coffee makers – in terms of numbers – but the revenues from the sale of their $210 model sky rocked – all because buyers had three to choose from.”

People look at options in context of what they want. One of Canada’s leading furniture retailers makes effective use of this strategy. Its refrigerators are displayed in the order of the most expensive. They do that for a reason.

Before, they used to group refrigerators and stoves together. Sometimes, even in other areas of the show room. Today most stores have their products set up in a way that it actually helps buyers choose what’s best for them, rather than having products all over the store, making it difficult for buyers to make comparisons. Either that, or they got you to look at the cheap ones first. “All this did was to get the buyer to focus on price rather than the product.”

It works the same way in the spa – and why spa managers must pay special attention in how they display their products.

Gary, whose book, Life is Sales, is a Canadian bestseller, also has a strategy to help you become more successful when it comes time to close, and what he considers a more effective way to deal with objections.

“I know most sales people try to deal with objections. I focus on selling because when someone raises an objection, I’ve found they will protect that objection. They take ownership of it and don’t want to give it up.

“Yet most people already know what the objection is 90% of the time. And that includes spas. What I do is tell the client what their objection is before they raise it. Be first. And then say: Here’s our best spa package. I know it seems expensive but you can take these products how with you and continue your treatments there.

Then talk about the benefits of the product. If your client says: That product is really expensive, they’re telling you they’re done talking. So instead, when you present the spa’s best package, tell them: It’s expensive – but this is what it will do for you.

“The reason why people fail to close is because the client doesn’t understand the value proposition. Everything you sell has a value to the client. If they don’t feel the treatments or products you’re recommending have value for them, they’re simply not going to buy.

If your client tells you they’re not really interested, or that they want to think about it first, then turn the whole approach around and say: If you don’t take this package or use this product on an on-going basis, you’ll lose all the results you would like to have in a month or two from now.

“Above all, ask for the business. Don’t hint as many people do or make statements your client doesn’t need to answer. Use these two magic words – will you – in front of your question, as in Will you be buying our best spa package today, rather than saying We’re offering a great package today.

“Then look at them. And wait. Don’t fill the space with your words. Let them think for a moment. If they say No, I don’t think so, then come back with a cheaper alternative: I understand you don’t want the whole package, and here’s another magic phrase – I recommendas in I recommend you at least take this.

“It’s amazing that when you make a concession, the other person is inclined to make a concession, too, by purchasing the cheaper product, which you probably would not have sold if you had offered it first.”

And perhaps most important of all: People buy from people they like. So smile. Show the teeth. If you smile and use your client’s name, he or she will make a connection and will be more likely to buy.

What else?

Use this phrase when you’re asking for business: Many of our clients … as in Many of our clients have chosen this package and have had great success with it.

“People are very motivated by what others are doing. They need to be with the crowd and need to know that if other people are buying it, it must be OK.

“That simple phrase: Many of our clients . . . can work wonders.”

You can reach Gary at glford@cogeco.ca.

You can check out the article in Spa Canada by logging onto: http://www.spacanadamagazine.ca

 

About jimcarr

Freelance writer and blogger, associate editor of Spa Canada Magazine,
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