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The Truth About Closing - Part 2

Furniture World Magazine


More ways to inspire ownership.

Editor’s Note: Last month, Cathy Finney looked at the process of closing the sale. Covered were the kinds of information salespeople should gather in order to close effectively, as well as information they need to relate about themselves and their store. She also explained how to listen for that time when customers send out an SOS (Sending Out Signals) that telegraph an intention to buy. In this issue, this discussion of closing continues.

Last month’s article explained why it is a good idea to explain to your customers WHY you are there and HOW you can help them, UP FRONT. When you do this, you are using the three P’s (Present the Program for your Production). Sometimes, your customers will not want to listen to this. They won’t want what we call “the dessert” first, so let’s look at other ways to "inspire ownership."

"Ethel" may be watching her figure and not want the pies and pastries. Puppies, however are a whole different matter. Few can resist those big brown eyes and floppy ears, especially once the puppy goes home to meet the kids.

This is the "Puppy Dog Close!" It’s "ownership" before the sale. That’s why the auto industry lets you test-drive a car. You can just picture this new little red number parked in your driveway. The same is true in the world of home furnishings. Once they see the furniture arranged on the carpeting or pictures hanging on the walls, they are there to stay. Take items out "on approval" for her to live with and enjoy. It doesn’t take long for the "adoption process" to take place! One consultant I know from Toledo, Ohio is great at this. When new accessories come in, she calls her clients. She drops them off and arranges them in their rooms. Her clients love her for thinking of them and for helping them. She calls these "drive by housecalls." I call it terrific!

The "Minor Point" Close helps make the decision easier for "Ethel" because it allows her to make a decision that is not so threatening. This could be on the number of dining room chairs, or how many throw pillows for the sofa. Once they decide, they just took "ownership" of the sofa and the dining room table.

Another technique that is not as threatening, is the "Choice" Close. You might ask, "Would you like the recliner to rock, or be stationary?" Either way, they will "own" it.

The "Impending" Close is used in conjunction with a holiday or special event. For example, make the suggestion, "Let’s get your husband’s new recliner started so that it will be delivered for "Father’s Day."

We humans are an interesting species. If we think we may not be able to get it, that is when we really want it. That is when we "have to have it." This is the "Fear of Loss" Close. If something may not be available later, we will be more inclined to take it home now.

Special Note To Owners: Instead of marking items on your floor "discontinued," label them "Limited Edition." Think about this. Who wants to buy something that has been "dropped" because it’s no longer selling. Who wants to own an "ugly one?" A "Limited Edition" is special. There are only so many available of THOSE. Remember this is YOUR production, and it’s ALL in the presentation. Which one would you want to own?

The "Summarizing" Close reinforces what has been discussed. Memorize the following words. They make up the most important statement that you can use when working with your client: "Based on what you told me, for that reason..."

This one statement lets her know several things:

•You listened.
•This is a "joint" decision. You two are bonding because you’re doing this together.
•You are doing nothing more than "parroting back" what she told you she wanted.
•This statement should eliminate all objections.
This is the "Summarizing" Close. You’re reviewing the benefits, creating a sense of urgency, and getting her excited to take "ownership."

After you have summarized everything, you can also use my favorite. I call it the "Nike Commercial" Close.

•"Let’s Do It! Let’s get your new room started!"

Never use the following phrases. because they sound threatening and may cause your clients to reconsider their purchase decision.

•"Let’s write up your order."
•"Let me get the paperwork."
•"Let me get my calculator."
•"Come over to the counter
(a.k.a. fort!) and I’ll get
an invoice."

Make them feel "at home." Instead of ushering them "somewhere" to take care of the "paperwork," ask them to stay right where they are and relax. If she is sinking into her new sofa, or they are sitting at their new dining room table smelling pumpkin pies and turkey, keep them there. Don’t break the "mood." They’re excited. They made a decision. It is theirs. Offer them a cup of coffee. Make this process comfortable, and convenient for "Fred" and "Ethel." Not only will they take ownership, they’re starting to picture what "new" will look like in their room. Does this "new" work with their "old?" "Plant the seed. Create the need." Get them thinking about the finishing touches.

Don’t make this process hard or intimidating for them or for yourself. Do you want them right there looking over your shoulder as you are trying to get all those numbers down in the right order, in the right boxes, on the right page! If you make the process inconvenient, you will have an epidemic of "buyer’s remorse" before they vacate the premises! Keep it simple. Make it pleasant. Keep them entertained.

One other close we haven’t talked about is the "Assumptive" Close. You did not go out into your parking lot, open their door, and drag them kicking and screaming into your retail establishment. They visited your store because they need something for their home. I would guess that you do not sell lawn mowers or briefcases. When they walk through your door, their main motivation is probably to purchase home furnishings. Bingo! You should assume that they are there for that reason. My pal from Birmingham says that the buying signal she always acts upon is simply the fact that the customer walked through the front door! If you are going to spend your time to assist your customer, help her own what she came in for.

She came in for a reason. Find out what it is and then ask her to own it. Then be quiet. Don’t say a word. She is thinking. Let her think about it ~ in peace. Let her "process" what you have presented.

Another important point to remember is that "he who speaks first , "owns it". Don’t sell the product and then buy it back. Be quiet. Breathe.

Don’t you decide how much she is willing to pay. Put another way, don’t help "Ethel" furnish her home out of your wallet.

Many people in sales try to do just that. They only show "Supersaver" fabrics, the items that are on sale, or the merchandise that they think this particular customer can afford.

I was particularly guilty of this when I started. People would tell me they wanted a cherry dining room. I couldn’t afford a solid cherry dining room, so, I tried to help them. I tried to save them money. I showed them maple and pine. Guess what, they didn’t want maple or pine. So they didn’t buy anything. I didn’t help them at all. One day it hit me. These are "big people." They know how much they can afford. This is a furniture store. I am here to help them own what they want, not what I can afford.

This technique of spending out of your wallet can also be very insulting, and judgmental. What must "Tiffany" be thinking. "Excuse me, do I look like I have to be concerned about price? Do I look like I only buy the markdowns? Excuse me?" See what I mean, insulting.

Now that we have THAT settled, let’s bring out...

The "wow" factor is you! It’s your ability to be different, to set yourself apart. The strength of your "wow" factor is in direct proportion to your closing ratio, to your sales, your income. It separates the professionals from the clerks! The spotlight is on you. If you don’t wow ‘em, they won’t own it!

• Get them Excited!
• Make this an "Experience!"
• Get their Emotions involved so they have to own it.
• Emphasize with their needs and their wants
• Make it Easy for them
•Establish your credibility and
•Earn their trust.

Remember, it’s not about "closing" a sale. It is about opening a relationship! Get comfortable with the different techniques we’ve discussed. Help them own what they want.

Remember my "C" words for "Confirming" the Agreement:
•When you are Comfortable.
•You get Confident.
•When you get Confident you get in Control.
•When you get in Control you get Consistent.
•When you get Consistent you are Confirming what they want.
• When you Confirm, you will earn more Cash.

You’ve got it. Good Job. Take a Bow!


Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.