Closing the first time in

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by Warren Tyler

There are many ways to close a sale depending upon what it is you’re trying to get a commitment on. Because the big boxes are negligent in their training, they use a psychological ploy. They know, like some of us more knowledgeable people, once a shopper passes any amount of money in most cases, she will stop shopping.

This is the reason they charge to measure. It is a huge commitment to invite an unknown person into your home. This is why Empire is so successful because it gets this commitment. The average retail salesperson should be at least able to get a commitment to measure if the clerks at the boxes can do it—and charge for it. I’m not arguing this method isn’t effective especially if you haven’t learned to sell the first time in.

Anyone with an ounce of personality should be able to close in the home. However, only the most professional are able to close in the store without measures. We used to close on approximate measures. Either our sales staff had sold people in the same development or they knew most women measured for window or wall treatments, furniture and other interior design products, and from this, they could get an approximation.

Our sales slips were equipped with plus or minus yardage dependent upon a physical measurement. When professionals talk about a closing ratio, we’re talking about first time in which would be close to zero in most stores. If you talk about “be-backs” most dealers will say 80% when in reality it is closer to 20%. With in-home measures, it should be close to 80%.

Closing in the first store meeting relies upon a salesperson’s ability to get on common ground or even better, to develop a personal relationship. This column is way too short to teach this, but a relationship separates you from your competition and allows her to share enough information, like approximate measures, to sell first time in. If she withholds this information, she doesn’t trust you yet.

Once you have approximate measures you can work on interior décor, and when you reach semi-agreement on a floor, ask for the order. If she says, “I want to think about it,” or “I have to talk with my husband,” then you haven’t answered all her concerns. She and her husband have been “discussing” redecorating for months before she entered your store. Now you need her to level with you exactly the nature of her concerns.

The better you have connected with her, which makes up the majority of the time spent with her, the more likely she is to confide in you. The easiest way is to go through the important points—color, performance and even price. Ask the question and if she gives you her concern, rephrase it in your own terms to be sure you completely understand her position. Once you’ve nailed down a concern, get agreement and ask for the order.

A rejection is her simply saying there is more on her mind. Go through the procedure again. This may take three, four or more times.

For those who believe this is high pressure, you’re right—if she doesn’t like you. If she likes you, she will feel you care enough to help her. She wants flooring badly or wouldn’t be in your store. Closing first time in is cost efficient, stops her from shopping and saves both of you time.

All good selling takes courage. The reason salespeople can’t ask for the order is they are afraid. Learning to be a professional salesperson means spending the same amount of time on a retail floor is the difference between making $25,000 a year vs. $100,000. Excuses not to sell professionally are just that, excuses to cover the fact you’re afraid to sell.

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