Closing the Sale
By Ramona Creel
So -- youve just gotten off of the phone with a potential
client. Youve explained what you do and how you can help them
-- and they still didnt end up hiring you. Where did you go
wrong? You are EXPERIENCED, you are professional -- and yet you
seem to have a hard time turning those leads into paying
clients. Perhaps you are approaching the situation from the
wrong perspective. Maybe you are focusing too much on the sale
and not enough on the potential for a RELATIONSHIP with this
Your goal during the selling phase is not to show off how
wonderful you are -- its to develop a rapport with the other
person, to express some EMPATHY for their situation, and to help
find a SOLUTION to the problem at hand. And along the way, you
will need to educate the client about the benefits you have to
offer if you ever hope to make a sale. So lets focus on a few
tricks for making yourself seem valuable to the client (the only
way I've found to really "sell" yourself). Id like to share
some of the techniques I use to close a sale, from the
perspective of professional organizing:
PRACTICE TELLING PEOPLE WHAT YOU DO
When I first started talking to clients, I was TENTATIVE and
hesitant about my abilities -- I came across as unsure about
what I had to offer. But I joined a networking group and found
that I was expected to give a short speech each Friday morning
describing what I do and how it helps people. I also hosted
booths at a couple of business expos, which allowed me to
INTRODUCE myself and my services over and over again to a number
of different people.
The more comfortable you can get with saying, "This is what I do
and here's how you will benefit and here's why I'm different
than the rest," the more you sound like you know what you are
doing. Start out with a one-minute "elevator speech" -- what you
would say to someone in an elevator when they ask, "so, what do
you do for a living?" Say it over and over again until it's
second nature. And then work on a second one that focuses in on
a different aspect of what you do. And another. And another.
Keep going until you can stand up in front of any potential
client and comfortably spout off why they should hire you.
GIVE A FREE IN-HOME / IN-OFFICE CONSULTATION
I don't know if you do this -- but as a service provider, I
found it essential to building up my client base. Some people
will tell you to CHARGE for a consultation -- but why would I
pay you to find out if you are worth hiring? Some people will
tell you to do a PHONE consultation -- this is fine for some
potential clients, but other folks want the reassurance of
meeting you face to face.
As a professional organizer, Ive found that some people want to
show me their stacks and piles and have me say that it's not the
worst Ive ever seen. I think of a consultation not as a time
when I can plan out what I'm going to do for the client --
because honestly, I've seen their problems a million times
before and it's not that different from client to client. But
it's a time when I can AUDITION for the client -- build some
rapport, show off my fabulous personality (!!), dazzle them with
my expertise and professionalism, and explain the way I work.
But most importantly, it's a time when I can sit in front of
them, pen and contract and calendar in hand, and say, "When do
you want to get started?" Much harder to turn me away, then. And
you've made a personal connection like you just can't do over
DON'T BE IN A HURRY TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DO
Get the client to talk first. If you immediately start telling
the client all of the great things that you do in your business,
you will lose them in the first 5 minutes. You have to let them
begin by telling you where the PAIN is. I encourage my clients
to tell me how badly life sucks because they are disorganized. I
empathize, saying things like, "that must be frustrating," I
rephrase their pain (when they say ,"I feel so overwhelmed," I
say "It can be hard to stay on top of it all"), and I share
stories of other clients who have gone through the same thing --
but I don't solve their problem yet.
You want to do two things here -- first, let them know that you
REALLY understand; and second, you want them to FEEL the reality
of their situation so much that you will look like a superhero
when you tell them how you can take that pain away. Once you've
gotten them to pour it all out, talk about how their lives will
be better once they hire you. Don't talk entirely about
techniques and systems -- talk about feelings. I find myself
saying things like, "And once we get your filing system
straightened out, you'll be able to find anything you need in 3
minutes or less -- won't that take a lot of stress off of your
shoulders?" -- and the answer is always a grateful Yes!
Some clients need a lot of FOLLOWING UP before they are ready to
hire you -- especially if you offer a service that deals with a
difficult or overwhelming problem like disorganization. I've
contacted clients for a year and a half before all of the
planets aligned -- and their calendar, wallet, and willingness
to change matched up -- and we started working together. When a
client says he/she wants to work with you but doesn't have time
right now, say, "Well that's no problem. I certainly understand
when your schedule gets overloaded. How about if I call you at
the end of February to see how things are going?" Not, "I'll
call sometime down the road," but I'll call at a SPECIFIC time
during a particular month. Many times they'll say, "Well
actually, you can call me in a week and I should be ready then"
-- or they might say February is too soon, call me in June.
But you have done two things -- you've kept the line open and
you've taken the RESPONSIBILITY for initiating action off of
them (which most clients really appreciate). Many times, I'll do
this over and over again, calling every few months ("Hi, you had
asked me to check back with you about doing some organizing in
February, so I'm just giving you a call. How's everything
going?") until they are ready. Persistence is the key.
ASSUME THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE THE SALE
When you finish your spiel with a client, don't ever say "do you
want to set up an appointment?" -- instead say "WHEN do you want
to get started?" Don't give them the OPTION to say no. I always
ask people, "So what's your time frame for getting started?"
That makes them think a little differently than saying, "When do
you want to set up an appointment?" Or say, "Well, I've got
Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning free next week -- which
works for you?" Be in charge of the situation and you'll see a
lot more leads become clients.
These techniques will in no way guarantee that every potential
client who crosses your doorstep will become a paying customer.
And remember, marketing and running a small business is a
numbers game. The more people you contact, the more people will
turn into clients. But you increase your odds greatly when you
give each person the full and complete attention he or she
deserves -- and when you use every weapon in your arsenal to
convince them of your professional value.
Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of OnlineOrganizing.com -- offering "a world of organizing solutions!" Visit www.onlineorganizing.com for organizing products, free tips, a speakers bureau -- and even get a referral for a Professional Organizer near you. And if you are interested in becoming a Professional Organizer, we have all the tools you need to succeed. If you would like to reprint this article, you may do so as long as you include this full resource box. (Copyright Ramona Creel)
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