May 13, 2011 - 03:44 PM

Going for the closing

How the psychology of selling works

Sometimes sales professionals lose their courage.  They avoid closing deals because they fear that dreaded word of rejection awaits them at the end of the line.  So much invested, they say, so much time and effort.  What if they say “No”?

Fortunately for the weak-kneed—and that’s more of us than we care to admit—there is a way to tell if your prospect is going to say “Yes.”  And it may not be what you think.

We automatically assume that saying “Yes” is all about answering a need... solving someone’s problem or increasing someone’s competitive edge.  These are important factors, but they are not enough.  Here’s what one expert believes are the key ingredients.

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, an expert on the psychology of influence, studies how persuasion, compliance, and negotiation take place in real-life business situations.  We can reduce his “Six Principles of Influence” to the following checklist:

Have you helped this customer before?
If so, then you have demonstrated your value and the customer is already predisposed to saying “Yes” when you move to close.  Among the ways you can help someone is with unique industry data, a business referral, or a handshake that leads to a speaking engagement or media opportunity.  

Does this customer think what you are selling is unique or rare?
Most of us being only human want to acquire what someone else can’t or doesn’t have.  Customers, too, value products that are rare or difficult to obtain. If you are the only source of information, product supply, creativity, or what have you, then your customer perceives you as having a unique value.  Unique value helps close the sale.

Does the customer consider you an authority?
Do you speak publicly or host webinars?  Have you written a book or are you a regular contributor to an industry publication, website or blog?  Do you have technical knowledge or an advanced degree in a relevant field?  If you are—or can become—an expert in something, your customer will perceive you as the authority in that area, and will be more likely to say “Yes.”

Would buying from you enhance the customer’s self-image?
Look for ways to bolster consistency of behavior.  Customers are more likely to buy from you if the purchase is consistent with a prior commitment they made, either to you (ideally) or your company.  This is why it’s important to get customers to define themselves as the type of business person who needs what you are offering—whether that be a unique product attribute, a service edge, or promotional support. 

Does the customer know anyone who has bought from you?
When someone’s peer says “yes,” that customer is more like to do the same.  It’s not exactly the herd mentality, but when we are presented with evidence of buyer satisfaction, the tendency is to say “yes,” too.  Your match-ups can include examples and references that reflect your customer’s profile in the most positive way.

Does the customer like you personally?
Every relationship is different, but customers are more likely to say “yes” when they know and like you.  So always be honest, show respect, do favors without being asked, extend recognition when it’s appropriate, and how about sending a letter instead of an e-mail.  It’s the little things that can make the difference and help you close a sale.