“The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.” – Henry B. Stendhal
Have you ever bought a car from a dealer? If so, you’ve probably been hit with every one of the sales techniques cited below and then some. Likewise, if you’ve ever bought anything over the phone after a cold call. Or if you’ve ever purchased a piece of real estate.
Whether used in print or in person, sale-closing secrets seem to be the same. Or similar. Here are a few of the “classics” that you might be able to apply to your own marketing efforts:
1. The Ben Franklin Close
This is really just a simple, traditional persuasion technique. The only thing Franklin did was make it famous by actively applying it. Here’s how it works: Draw a line down the center of a page. On the left side of the line, list every possible “minus” response your potential customer could think of. On the right side, list all the possible “plus” responses. The longer the list on the right side, the more likely the sale. Use that list to reinforce your sales pitch. “Let me be clear on what I can’t do for you.” “But let me also make sure you understand what I can offer.”
2. The Buying-Criteria Close
Draw a line down the middle of another piece of paper. This time, the trick is to make a list of buyer needs and then counter each of those needs with the product benefit that satisfies it. “You’ve waited a long time to lose those extra pounds. Too long? Not at all. Lard-Be-Gone works no matter what your age.” “You want to take better care of your heart. Lard-Be-Gone is fortified with 6 essential antioxidants, shown in a Finnish study to reduce heart disease by as much as 63%.”
3. A Double-Whammy-Question Close
Opening a close to a sale with a question is common practice. But some sales professionals stack the questions one after the other. The first question is just a statement of something your prospect is wondering. The second is a challenge to the prospect to act, dependent on the answer. “Is there any kind of ‘safety buffer’ on this investment idea? If there were, would you consider giving my service a try?” This could then be followed up with another benefit. “This is the only drug company that’s finished FDA trials on the drug I told you about. We’re only 3 months away from full approval. And all prospects look good.”
4. The “This-Could-Be-You” Close
Lots of promo pieces open with stories about people in the same predicament as the prospect. Sometimes with happy endings. Sometimes not. You can do the same to close a sale. For instance . . . “Still undecided? Maybe hearing what happened with Mary Pritchett will help you make up your mind. Mary was diagnosed with diabetes 6 years ago. She started on a full course of insulin, special diet, and full exercise schedule. “14 months later, she started to lose her eyesight. Her limbs fell off. Her hair turned purple. Mary thought she was too far gone to be helped. “Desperate, she tried Kidney-Kickstarter and was as right as rain in less than 4 days. “You’re probably in much better shape than Mary right now. But why take chances on what the future holds?” (You get the picture.)
5. The “Feel, Felt, Found” Close
Sales folk widely credit Zig Ziglar with this one — a simple statement to help overcome lingering objections. For example . . . “If you’re thinking this isn’t the first time you’ve heard promises about vitamins and arthritis, I know how you feel. I felt the same way when I was having joint troubles of my own. “But then I found bio-chemically activated Flex-O-Rific, and everything changed almost overnight.”
There are surely more techniques.
Just be warned before you try any of the above that closing a sale is a little like shooting pool: You shouldn’t try to put a spin on the ball until you’ve mastered the straight shot. Re-visit the basics: justifying the price, removing risk with a guarantee, always giving one more reason to buy, and so on. Find a way to get excited about the product you’re selling. And look for ways to get your customer nodding his or her head throughout the pitch. Let him feel that the decision to buy is his decision, rather than something you’ve imposed on him.
(Ed. Note: John Forde is a member of the AWAI board of directors and editor of the free e-letter Copywriter’s Roundtable.)