Do you remember the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross? If not, I suggest you get it and watch it immediately (great sales movie). Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, makes a statement that has resonated with me to this day…
“PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN, COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS ONLY. I DON’T SEE ANY CLOSERS IN HERE”. Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross
And as a Starbucks enthusiast and sales trainer, every time I take a sip, I think about that line and I consider how it’s going to affect my day. Because, we’re all sales people and we all must “close” in order to succeed, professionally.
Think about it… as a Trainer, teaching sales, I have to win each learner to my way of thinking (by demonstrating, sharing success stories, utilizing facts, encouraging participants to try it, etc…). It’s my job to make them realize that what I am telling them (ahem, selling them)… will in fact work. This is “sales”… is it not?
As a Regional Director when you’re pitching the need for that front cover of Apartment Guide, redecorating that model, going outside the budget for a new manager’s salary, etc… aren’t you “selling” an idea to your boss? Providing reasons behind it, net effect of it, etc…?
Then obviously as a Leasing Consultant, it’s your job to get those prospective residents to “Sign on the line which is dotted” Blake (another Glengarry Glen Ross quote, I can’t help myself), right?
What I often find missing during the sales process (no matter what the “sale” is) is the close. Asking them to live at your community, asking the learners to commit to trying something new, actually asking your boss for the money to spend… we give tons & tons of information and we think we’re “selling”… but we’re not actually selling until we ask for a commitment. Whatever that commitment might be!
So let’s discuss the steps involved, shall we? We’ll use leasing as an example, because that is the primary focus of our business.
First, we have to have product knowledge. We cannot sell what we don’t know. Now, by product knowledge, I don’t mean knowing that you have beautiful 1-2-3 bedroom apartment homes. I mean knowing what you have available right now and what is special about it. You’re never going to “paint a picture” of a specific home, if you just regurgitate the fluffy marketing words listed on your website. Have you spent time in the homes that are vacant? Do you know what kind of light they get? What they face? How they feel? You should! That’s what I am talking about when I say “product knowledge”.
Second, we need to have competitor knowledge. How can you compete when you don’t know what you’re up against? When that prospect says they’re going to XYZ Community and they don’t have garages (but the prospects #1 thing they wanted was just that), you now have an opportunity to help that prospect not waste their valuable time. Know your comps, have comp info (because just telling a prospect that they don’t have garages will only get you so far, SHOWING them their brochure/flyer/info that you have in your leasing notebook… or hey, turn your computer around and show them online… will get you a lot further).
Third, utilize trial closes. What are trial closes? They’re questions… they’re temperature checking… they’re designed to help you continue to understand that what you’re showing the prospect is in line with their needs and wants. It allows the prospect to give you feedback along the way and if that feedback isn’t favorable, it allows you to come up with a new game plan (quickly). By asking tons of open ended questions, you’re allowing the prospect the opportunity to tell you what is and isn’t working. No feedback is never a good thing… you’ll be scratching your head when they leave and didn’t lease.
Fourth, uncover hidden objections. What are hidden objections, they are the real reason your prospect didn’t lease. But, you probably didn’t give them a chance to tell you… as sales people, we’re chatty. We can’t help it. But, if we don’t listen, pay attention to body language or get the prospect talking… we’re doing ourselves (and community and company and THE PROSPECT) as disservice. I remember back when I was leasing, I had a great call that turned into (I thought) a great appointment. I met all the needs the prospect told me she wanted, I was charming, engaging, funny, etc… and I even did her one better. I had a fabulous location overlooking our truly, resort style pool. I never actually asked her any questions because I was just so excited that we had, literally, exactly what she was looking for. I created urgency and everything by letting her know this was the only one I had like this (overlooking the pool, but I didn’t say that).
She didn’t lease.
I was floored.
Turns out, after my stalker-ish follow-up (I just HAD TO KNOW WHY), she worked from home and was concerned about the noise from the pool.
I had OTHER homes like this, but I was so wrapped up in MYSELF that I didn’t stop to ask her any questions, temperature check her to make sure this would work for her and in doing that, I did not uncover her hidden objection. Learn from my mistakes. ASK! ASK! AKS! The more you can get the prospect talking, the better!
Fifth, the summary close/create urgency is great at reminding the prospect of what they told you (and that you were listening), what they loved and basically; why they should pick you. This is a great opportunity for you to really put your community vs their needs into perspective. If you have what they wanted and you remind them of this… because each home is unique, this is also the time to create urgency because you only have ONE home like the one they saw… so why would they lease anywhere else? And why wouldn’t they lease today?
Sixth, the final, assumptive or alternative close. At the end of the day, you have to actually ask them to live at your community… you can do this a number of ways… so long as you do it! By the time the tour is over it’s up to you to ask them to come back and choose to live at your comm unity.You could ask, you could tell them that they’re going to live there or you could give them a choice between apartments and ask them to pick one. Any way you slice it, it has to be done and you’re asking them to make a decision. Yes or No. This one or that one. If you miss this step, you screwed up. Plain and simple. You whole tour was a waste of time, because you’re not a tour guide, you’re a sales consultant and if you don’t actually sell (and not asking for the sale is in effect, not selling) you’re not doing your job. Not asking for the sale is not doing your job. AND PLEASE… DO NOT JUST GIVE THEM AN APPLICATION AND SEND THEM OUT YOUR DOOR!!!!!!!!!
So do you have to listen to this? “You certainly don’t pal, ’cause the good news is – you’re fired. The bad news is – you’ve got, all of you’ve got just one week to regain your jobs starting with tonight. Oh? Have I got your attention now? Good. “Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired. Get the picture? You laughing now?”- Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross
When it comes to closing… It’s really nothing more than asking questions and ultimately asking for a commitment. If you follow the steps above, tailoring the information to your style (we’re not a bunch of mindless zombies who need to do everything exactly the same… you’re unique and that makes you awesome), you will have a better result with your sales efforts (be it leasing, training others, asking for budget leeway, or whatever).
Do you think the following these steps will increase your sales?
Will you commit to trying these steps out and seeing if they work for you?
Thinking about your approach now, what will you do differently in your everyday “sales”?
Let’s get out there and SELL, ok?