Positive pressure is sometimes necessary to close the deal.

Whenever they hear the term "high-pressure selling," many people have visions of salespeople who have tried to push them into deals they didn't want.

But it's also true that a little pressure in selling is needed to close some sales.

Many prospects need to have a boot in the pants to get them to decide. They send out excuses and objections, not out of conviction but as means of obscuring their doubts and indecisions. They are on the fence and are waiting to be knocked off.

You have to be careful here or it could be assumed you are applying pressure. Many people resent the pressure and will bolt. They will show you the door. You will have lost not only this job, but also anything that comes along in the future. If buyers seem to be wavering, you should help them make up their minds. This borders on high-pressure selling, but is not. Helping someone make up his or her mind in a positive way is low-pressure selling.

Don't - under any circumstances - lie to get the order. Don't tell a prospect that prices are going up when you know they are not going to affect the order. Getting the order by scaring the customer is not what we are talking about.

A 30-year veteran of selling once told me, "If I have to lie to get the order, I'd rather lose the order. If I can't sell it based on my company, the product and my experience, I'd rather pass. I leave the tricks and gadgets to the fly-by-night boys."

Most top salespeople operate honestly and fairly because it's more profitable and ethical.

Objections need to be identified, answered and put to bed. My advice in selling classes is to develop an answer for any objection and make a list of the ways the prospect is satisfied with the answer. In other words, what works and what doesn't.

Take a meeting

If your company has sales meetings, make answers to objections part of every one. Let everyone answer the objection. The people in the audience will learn ways to answer that they may not have thought about.

Always ask co-workers for any objections or questions that they have had a problem answering and get some new ideas. It always amazes me when a sales group or organization doesn't take advantage of the interaction they could have in a sales meeting.

When answering a question or an objection, don't argue. You can disagree, but with care and caution. If you "win" the argument, you may lose the order. However, don't back off from a statement you know is wrong and misleading. By not dealing with this statement, you let the prospect believe there is something right about their misguided statement and you lose.

Once you have answered the question, don't continue with more information than is necessary. Once they agree you have answered their inquiry, go to a "trial close."

What is a trial close? Every time you answer a question, ask the buyer if that reply was satisfactory. If they agree, then ask if there are any other concerns or questions. If there are none, assume the order is yours and proceed to the next step. If there are other questions, ask for them and write them down.

Questions and answers

Make sure you have all their questions written down. As you go down the list, choose the ones that are more difficult to answer first. Save the easy ones for last. After you have completed the list, say, "That's the complete list of questions you had and I've answered them all. Our next step is to decide the date we can start this job," or "We have gone through the list of questions you had and I only have one question: When do you want us to start this job?"

Don't forget to go over every sales call, successful or not. Only then will you be able to honestly see why things happened the way they did and what you could do better next time.

Going over each call is a practice that needs to become a habit with all salespeople. If you are honest with yourself, you will see the things that need improvement and be able to do something about them.

(Dave Gleason has more than 40 years of experience in contracting, engineering and wholesaling. He has put these experiences into a comprehensive consultation and training company called Systematic Selling Inc., which offers customized sales seminars and workshops. Contact him at 1165 Antioch Campground Road, Gainesville, GA 30506; phone (800) 447-7355; fax (717) 698-6555.)