It’s not the ‘close’ but the follow-up that counts

In most sales training courses the close or closing question that ‘asks for the order’ is viewed as the most critical component. It can’t be denied that actually asking a question or suggesting an action to buy a product or service can help a customer who is not sure what to do next. I believe that this ‘question or suggestion’ is an important step if it is done at the appropriate time (after finding out whether the customer actually needs the product or service!). However, traditional sales training often elevates the close to such an extent that the salesperson can become tense or even aggressive at this ‘make or break moment’ with the customer in order to gain the sale. We all know how it feels to be pushed too hard and we will often push back with a No! or reluctantly give in but vow never to return to the seller again.

We have re-examined the sales process from the customer’s perspective and in our workshops and coaching we take some of the focus and anxiety/aggression away from the ‘close’ and provide a bigger picture view of the buying and selling experience by adding in what happens after the sale. The follow-up part of the sales process does not usually figure in sales training as it could be viewed as part of customer service but I believe that this misses the point. Having contact with the customer after they have bought a product or service will help a salesperson to understand  what the customer has gained from their purchase, what works well and what can be improved. This follow-up step which comes after the close may be less interesting to those agressive salespeople, who are often described as ‘hunters’, but if they did take the time to follow-up on their sales they would actually find that the next sale to this or another customer would be so much easier, but then maybe they just like the game of pushing hard and winning!

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