Due to the fact that marketing is a broad profession that covers promotion and sales, marketers should understand all underlying processes, including the services delivered directly to the consumer or customer. The present paper discusses one of the personal selling tools, which is the salesperson-initiated closing of a sale. It needs to be noted that the relevant and non-pressuring initiative of the salesperson is more likely to help the buyer make the right choice and purchase the article they need.
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At a certain critical stage, the salesperson should suggest that the customer make their decision to purchase the product. Time control is quite important in sale completion, and it is important to avoid hurrying the customer or making them wait. The sales representative should also pay attention to the customer’s gestures which might point to the willingness to buy the product. Such cues might include nodding in agreement while the conditions of the sale are being discussed, trying on or examining the merchandise again, scrutinizing the service contract, searching for the wallet or purse in the bag, specifying/discussing the possible options (different color, conditions of free delivery and so forth), verbal expression of positive attitude towards or interest in the product (Cant, Stanford, and Gerber-Nel, 2004, p.112). Further, the salesperson is supposed to encourage the buyer to make the final step towards the sale. There are several types of sales completion questions.
First of all, it is possible to use direct questioning in order to find out the buyer’s intention, especially if the customer is indecisive. As Stewart writes, “Could we follow this up with another meeting next week?” is an example. “Would you just sign the purchase order for me?” is another example. A close I like to use is, “What would you like me to do?” (Stewart, 1999, p.236). This straightforward way of closing the sale is interpreted by buyers as an indicator of honest, action-oriented, and non-manipulative personality and is thus workable with the customers from most Western cultures. At the same time, direct questions are not inherent to Middle Eastern and Asian peoples who value rituals and positive relationships (e.g. a long conversation in which the customer tells the salesperson about their life and the latter supports him/her) rather than the immediate result (Reid & Bojanic, 2009, p.535).
The subordinate question implies that the customer has already ordered the product (even if he/she still hasn’t) and addresses the details or aspects which normally follow the purchase (shipment, packing, and so forth). On the one hand, certain hesitant customers who feel uncomfortable when interacting with the person they do not know (the sales assistant) might be grateful for this initiative and eagerness to organize delivery in a convenient way (Stewart, 1999, p.237). In addition, “Studies by Behavioral Sciences Research Press have concluded that many salespeople hesitate, sometimes fatally, to ask for the sale” (Stewart, 1999, p.237). In this sense, asking indirect questions allows psychological relief for both salesperson and buyer. At the same time, the consumers of luxury goods or B2B services might be dissatisfied with sales assistants making decisions for them and arranging their purchases. Therefore, it is important to understand that such a pattern of salesperson’s behavior can be interpreted as a lack of tact and politeness.
The closing assumption is normally used by sales representatives who distribute equipment for plants or large production. When the company representative has delivered several presentations to the plant administration, discussed all points of the agreement with the customer, and feels he/she has been almost selected, it would useful to demonstrate a positive initiative and ask for an excursion around the plant in order to “make some notes about the installation”(Cant, Stanford and Gerber-Nel, 2004, p.112). Although in most cases this type of sale close is perceived as imposing the choice upon the buyer, in the context of high-tech areas characterized by lengthy negotiations and selection, such behavioral pattern refers rather to the salesperson’s professionalism and precise orientation to business (Stewart, 1999, p.237).
If the price of the product regularly and notably increases (e.g., in retail or tourism), the salesperson can try to close the sale by the “forthcoming event” type, or by informing the prospect or buyer about the impending price increase and recommending that they make their decision as soon as possible. Importantly, this information should be accurate, otherwise, such behavior is categorized as manipulation and the customer consequently loses trust in the sales assistant and is not likely to return. In addition, “When impending events are used to discriminate and show unwarranted favoritism, however, buyers may feel that they are being manipulated and taken advantage of” (Stewart, 1999, p.238). Therefore, presenting the information about the impending price increase as a “big secret” might also have an undesirable effect on customer behavior. In fact, professional salespeople, interested in long-term relationships with their buyers, are obligated to inform about the changes in the product price, especially if the product has high value and constitutes an important aspect of the customer’s life (e.g. insurance, automobile, banking business).
To sum up, the salesperson-initiated closing of the sale is quite a complicated tool used at the final stage of personal selling. It includes evaluation of the customer’s willingness to purchase the product or service and the use of relevant closing questions or assumptions, which greatly depends upon the product type and placement.
Nel, C., Stanford, C. and Gerber-Nel, C. (2004). Introduction to Retailing. Juta and Company Limited.
Stewart, M. (1999). Close more sales!: persuasion skills that boost your selling power. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.
Reid, R. & Bojanic, D. (2009). Hospitality Marketing Management. John Wiley and Sons.