To close or not to close, that is the question….
Ahhh, but, is that the question…?
No, it’s not. In reality it’s not the question because of course, anybody who is in the business of selling something is always supposed to close and ask for the order. But, when it comes to the difference between closing in person (or, even on the phone), and closing via email, there is a question, and it needs to be answered.
In this day and age of e-commerce, it’s easy for people who sell things for a living to see the Internet as a double-edged sword. On one hand, being able to field a phone call and respond to a question with, “We can explain that by looking at our web site right now. If you’ll go ahead and bring it up, I’ll be able to show you the answer to that question,” or having the ability to post informational videos on You-Tube that lead people to your site is nothing short of wonderful. On the other hand, smart phones, Google, etc…have made fact and price confirmation almost second nature for savvy customers, and while I personally don’t see a problem with that, I know that some people in sales wish the Internet had never been invented…..whether Al Gore did it or not.
But, going beyond the love it/hate it relationship idea, there’s another issue that is important for salespeople while they are communicating with a potential customer who has chosen to use email rather than a phone to ask the questions they feel they need to ask in order to arrive at a buying decision. (By the way, this is not a discussion about shoppers shopping for nothing more than the cheapest price via the Internet. You’ll note that I said that it’s about customers who choose to confirm pricing and information via today’s technology, not somebody looking for the least possible low-ball price.) And, replying to those customers with answers to their questions is part of what it’s all about, and it’s also about closing the sale…..or is it?
Well, yes, but not in the same way we might close if we were dealing personally with perspective customer.
In a face-to-face situation, when the time is right, there’s nothing wrong with being direct, closing, and asking for the order. A simple “Are you ready to go ahead?” is a direct close that some might refer to as a ‘hard close’. But, as I said, in a face-to-face situation where you can judge what the customer is feeling, I don’t necessarily consider this a ‘hard’ close as much as it is just a ‘direct’ close. If you’ve answered all the questions and explained all the benefits of making the purchase, then, by all means, go ahead and be direct.
In the event that it’s not face-to-face, though, asking the same question via email doesn’t work. It’s just type on a screen, which makes it impersonal by nature. And, to the customer the same statement can feel like, “all right already, we’ve talked enough, so now are you ready to go ahead, and, if you’re not, say so and I’ll move on to the next customer”, which at best, is disappointing to them. At worst, they will be offended by what the perceive as nothing more than greed, and decide they don’t want to do business with you after all.
Closing via email is better accomplished with a “Please let me know if you have any more questions and let me know when you are ready to go ahead.”
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