February 2, 2010

How Closing Attitudes Influence Our Closing Ratio

By Gerhard Gschwandtner

This is the second in a series of discussions with Zig Ziglar* on the subject of closing. As stated in the previous issue, during the past 75 years over 3,000 books were published on the art and science of professional selling; however, less than one percent of these books deals exclusively with the closing process. To advance the body of knowledge on the subject of closing, Personal Selling Power has established an ongoing dialogue with the dean of professional selling, Zig Ziglar, author of several bestsellers, including Secrets of Closing the Sale.

PSP: Are you aware of statistics concerning salespeople’s attitude toward closing?

Zig Ziglar: My friend Chris Hegarty makes the statement that 63 percent of all sales interviews end with the salesperson not specifically asking for the order.

PSP: That’s surprisingly high.

Zig Ziglar: Dr. Herb True of Notre Dame found that 46 percent of the salespeople he interviewed ask for the order once and then quit; 24 percent ask for the order twice; 14 percent ask for the order three times and 12 percent give up after the fourth attempt. Yet the same research shows that 60 percent of all sales are made after the fifth closing attempt.

PSP: Do you feel that some buyers simply play hard to get?

Zig Ziglar: Oh, I certainly think so. If we said yes to everything, we’d be bankrupt in six months. Also, we don’t like to think of ourselves as easy sales. We want to be able to say to our friends and relatives, “I have said no a half a dozen times, but the evidence was just so overwhelming that I finally decided to buy.”

PSP: What attitudes can improve our closing ratio?

Zig Ziglar: The most important attitude is the attitude of expectancy. You simply expect to make the sale before you see the client.

PSP: Could you give us an example?

Zig Ziglar: When I was in the insurance business, I made a call with a general agent to an overweight, 55-year-old client. I had sold a $100,000 policy to this man who did not have any insurance coverage. I was really a neophyte then and when we delivered the insurance policy, the agent did such a marvelous job explaining the benefits of this particular policy that the client had no hesitations about buying a second policy on the spot. To my surprise, the general agent pulled from his briefcase a second $100,000 policy that he had asked his company to issue in advance of our sales call and handed it to our client. I really learned a great deal of positive expectancy that day.

PSP: What would be another attitude that can lead to more closes?

Zig Ziglar: You know, at the Zig Ziglar Corporation, our philosophy is built around the concept that you can get anything in life you want, providing you help enough other people get what they want. This concept translates into an unconditional attitude for providing the best possible service to all customers. This means that you have to have complete belief that what you are selling is in the prospects best interest and that you are indeed rendering a service to that person.

PSP: So if you don’t honestly feel that you are rendering service…

Zig Ziglar: You will never be as successful as you could without that service attitude.

PSP: Are you saying that our service attitude will improve our closing ratio because will be perceived as more sincere?

Zig Ziglar: Absolutely. If you’ve got the service attitude, the sincerity will always come through. Not too long ago, I spoke to a group of pastors and we talked about the family. When I finished, one of the pastors came up and said, “I don’t know how to say this, but you’re just a real person.” I always thought that I was a real person, but I was particularly pleased about his comments. I am very close to my wife, my children and my grandchildren and I believe my attitude comes through. What he was saying was that I was able to communicate my feelings about the family with sincerity. I believe that the salesperson who sincerely believes in the idea he is selling, or the product he is selling, will always find the sales process much easier.

PSP: Does this belief influence the way we present our product to our prospects?

Zig Ziglar: Most certainly. If you really believe that what you are selling will help the other person, you will persist. You will present your ideas politely, you will act professionally, you will go through the selling process as skillful as possible, and you will persist. The salesperson who believes accepts a moral responsibility of becoming as skillful as he possibly can. He or she will learn as many procedures and techniques as possible to assist the prospect in making the right decision. In short, salespeople who believe will be more successful in dealing with prospects.

PSP: So belief, persistence, sincerity, expectancy – these attitudes are very much interrelated.

Zig Ziglar: Yes, they are. Many students of the closing process have pointed to these facts. For example, James S. Knox, a former NCR salesman and sales trainer, wrote in 1922: “When I am convinced that my proposition is to a man’s advantage and will make him money, and then fail to urge him to take it, I feel that I am not giving him a square deal. And that’s the reason I am so persistent.” This is a beautiful example of how our attitudes shape our beliefs, our actions and ultimately our results.

ZIG’S ACTION TIPS

1. If you want to improve your persistence, begin by believing in your product, your company and yourself. If you don’t believe in the value of your product, how can you expect a prospect to trust your words?

2. How many closes have you used on your last call – before you gave up on the prospect? If you have used fewer than six closes, you are not giving your prospects a square deal. Respect their needs for not wanting to be an easy sale, but do not give up before the sixth closing attempt.

3. Develop an expectant attitude before you meet with your client. Visualize your customer taking ownership of your product. Hear him or her talking with friends and relatives about using your product with satisfaction. Communicate with your words, ideas and actions that you expect your client to buy the product you have come to sell.

4. Never underestimate the power of a sincere service attitude. Help other people get what they want! Serve and you will succeed.

Zig Ziglar is president of The Zig Ziglar Corporation, Carrollton, Texas.