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The 10 Perfect Closing Questions By Pat Evans

Want to learn how to sell anybody? Good. Why not learn from someone who can sell YOU? Let’s choose something simple like a pen.

Let’s pretend you are a prospect and, to make it interesting, your job is NOT to buy a pen from me. Remember, don’t buy from me.

Pat: “Hi, my name is Pat Evans. What is your name?” [I ask while shaking your hand]

You: “Bill Johnson”.

Pat: “Bill, this is the pen you use now correct?” [Gesturing toward your BIC pen.]

You: “Yes.”

Pat: “What do you like about the pen?”

You: “It’s dependable.”

Pat: “Great. What do you not like about it?”

You: “I tend to lose the cap.”

Pat: “Fine.” [I pull a more expensive pen from my pocket.] “Which of the two pens looks more professional?”

You: “The one you are selling.”

Pat: “OK. Please allow me to summarize. This pen [I point toward the pen I am selling] is more professional looking and has a retractable point, which cannot be lost therefore it will last longer. Do you agree?”

You: “Yes.” [Of course you agree. I ascertained that a few sentences earlier.]

[I lean to my left and pull a plain white piece of paper from my briefcase. I write PURCHASE AGREEMENT in large letters at the top and begin to fill in your name under PURCHASER. Dead Silence ensues for 30 seconds and then a voice is heard.]

You: “What are you doing?” [You look perturbed.]



[Never ever say, “I am writing up a purchase agreement for you to sign.” Do you know why? If the potential pen customer is a type-A personality, he or she may blow up at you. I’m talkin’ ballistic. This is why sales reps are afraid to ask for the order.]

Pat: [I recommend saying] “I’m simply writing down what we have talked about and I am going to leave it with you.” [Do not say “OK?”]

[I look down and continue to write for 10 seconds more. I then look up. You now seem more relaxed. My question to you is who is in control at this point? Yes, I agree. Me; and type-A personality is not mad. Most reps are afraid to go for the close. They believe it is a timing issue and they may be too early. I have been closing sales fast for over 31-years and I still do not know when the best time is so I attempt to close very, very early and often.]

Pat: [I now flip the paper around and present it to you.] “Is this everything we discussed?”

You: [Scans the doc.] “Yes.”

Pat: “Well, if you will please sign the order I would love to have you as a customer.”

You: “I do not want to sign.”

Pat: [I reach over and slowly pull the paper back so it now sits in front of me.] “If your firm was proceeding to acquire the pens would your name appear on this purchase order or would someone else have to authorize the purchase?” [This question allows an “out” for the prospect. He simply states someone else must sign and believes this answer will disconnect the sales process.]

You: “I would need to get another person to sign.”

Pat: “When would you receive confirmation concerning approval?”

You: “One week.”

[I write on the purchase agreement “THIS ORDER IS NULL AND VOID IF BILL CANCELS IT WITHIN 10 DAYS.” I then slide the document back in front of you. This close is called a contingency close. Please note one of the largest dollar investments a typical citizen will make is a house. The housing industry is huge and contingency selling is a standard way to close a deal in the housing industry. My firms always allowed this type of close.]

Pat: “Please acknowledge the terms.”

You: “I do not want to sign.”

Pat: “That is perfectly fine.” [I then pull the purchase agreement back into my possession.] “You have said the replacement pens are more professional looking and will last longer. I am offering the better pens at a discount so you only pay the reduced price, which is the same cost as your present BIC pens. I am not asking you to order the pens from me. I’m requesting your acknowledgement of the terms so I can hold the price for 10 days.” [I slide the doc back.] “Could you please initial and date the doc so I can hold the price?”

The prospect usually starts to laugh because he now believes he would like to sign. To not sign now seems out of character. He signs and I have another fervent convert.

As you can see, the best and only true offense a sales person has is questions. I ask questions early and often. I never presume. I simply ask questions. I always ask two or more questions but once I receive two positive answers concerning the product… I close the deal. Most sales reps sign a new customer by getting a signature on paper or an acknowledgement over the Internet. The faster you can pull a purchase agreement out or start conversing about money issues the faster the conversation will lead to a close.

You may think this approach is aggressive yet to achieve any sale you must follow these steps. You agree the longer a close takes the more things can go wrong. Another competitor could discover the potential deal while cold calling for example.

When is the appropriate time to close? Don’t worry about having perfect timing or being a psychic. Start talking about price as soon as you can. You will know faster if your prospect has the funds allocated and whether he thinks your retail price is fair.

Managers who have reviewed my firms’ techniques thought high-tech sales had to be long and drawn out. Consultative selling was the correct way they said. Most of my sales people had a minimum of 10 years in the shipping software integration business but we had cut our teeth in the knock-on-doors mailing/shipping arena. You will find out that once a prospect realizes you know what is best for him he will want to talk price as soon as possible. Close faster. Do it now.

Write It Down!

Pat Evans is the author of SalesBURST!! World’s Fastest (entrepreneurial) Sales Training (Wiley; October 2007), past national spokesperson for NODMA, and was founder of EVCOR, a small business that eventually grew to $40 million in annual revenue and sold for $60 million. Visit www.EvanSales.com.

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