To some it’s euphoric. To most it’s traumatic. That fleeting, tension-filled moment, when the first kiss is imminent. Euphoria is when the man senses and immediately acts on that moment; tragedy is when the man senses it but freezes in place. In the former, the lady is excited that the man took the cue; in the latter, she’s irritated that he didn’t. In many ways this scenario plays itself out in the sales process, with the climax being the moment when a close is imminent. And it’s just that-a moment! It lasts a second but feels like eternity. Many sales are lost here. The salesperson senses the tension, but caves in to it instead of acting on it.
From my sessions I have noticed that those who cave into the moment do so because of these reasons: Fear (what if the prospect doesn’t “kiss” me back-I’ll feel hurt from the rejection); Pride (I cannot be seen to be initiating it-the prospect is the one to take up the offer as he needs the product); indifference (the salesperson is so engrossed with his presentation he doesn’t even notice the moment); intimidation (he’s senior to me or I cannot ask him for Kes. 50M-no one has that kind of money) and ignorance (the salesperson doesn’t know any better-how do I close?). In all these cases, the deafening 60 milliseconds of tension come, and then dissipate; and Poof!, the moment turns from opportunity to misfortune and a sale is lost.
But why is it important to be alive and act on this moment of tension? Because, research shows that prospects want to be led to a close but will only momentarily let their guard down for this to happen. For whatever reason, prospects want to be guided to a close even for something they want; the hawker probably guided you to buying the pair of shoes and the tailor guided you to the design that suits you. And it’s not always because we don’t know what it is we want-even when we do know what it is we want, we still allow ourselves to be guided out of it onto something different. Now you know why companies have sales representatives (called merchandisers) strategically placed along the supermarket aisles who will invite you to try their brand of sausage, or soap or spray-which is different from what you had on your shopping list.
With this in mind then, the moment of tension just before the close isn’t to be feared, merely understood. For the ignorant, techniques in closing abound and they can start trying them out; for the fearful, separating self from product will help overcome rejection; for the intimidated, start small or better still enlarge your vision about yourself; and for the proud and indifferent, time will open your eyes to your dwindling fortunes, and shock you into dropping your hubris. Easier said than done, I hear you say. True. But, hey, this is selling-nothing is easy until done again, and again, and again improving with every try.
Let that moment of tension galvanize you to ask for the cheque. As this column has stated before, selling is like football. Yes, the appointment, interview and presentation were to die for, but did you close? During the ongoing World Cup, we shall be excited by the dazzling footwork, impressive shots and deafening cheering-but when the chips fall, only one thing will matter; did you score?
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