Less talking and more listening will get you closer to the sale.

In every class I teach, I spend time talking about how good personality traits help selling. Two traits that continually come up are patience and perseverance.

They may not seem important, but more sales are lost because the salesperson lacks these skills than the skill of closing.

Let me give you an example. Say you are selling a replacement unit and the customers say that they want to get a couple of other prices. What would be your response? "OK. I think you should. But would you do me a favor and give me a last look?"

Or would you say, "I understand your desire to make sure you get the right price for this job; I would also. But let me go over some of the questions you may have and perhaps I can reassure you of the job we'll do. If you still feel you should seek other opinions, I'll agree."

This may seem pushy and sort of high pressure, but the fact is all you are really doing is reducing the possibility of buyer remorse. Your job is to make sure that the value of the product or service offered is higher than the price quoted. This is "selling," but it is a very difficult point to make many salespeople understand. You want customers to always feel comfortable while making a decision to buy, but the fact is many buyers will never reach that comfort zone you want them to feel.

Talk less, listen more

Patience is needed to let customers make comments and think about what they are going to say. Remember, "good" salespeople talk about 60 percent of the time, but "great" salespeople talk less than 50 percent of the time.

To hear responses, you have to keep quiet. To do this, you also must ask probing questions and plan to lead buyers to a position where they will make a purchase.

I have seen too many salespeople back off from questions that needed to be pursued and answered. Nothing happens until you hear why customers are not buying. Only then will you know what needs to be done to close the sale.

If you could start out sales by asking, "What are the things you fear the most about this purchase and what is your budget?" and customers answered truthfully, your closing rate would double.

To make customers feel more comfortable you have to be patient. However, if you don't persevere, there will not be a sale.

When customers want to get more prices, what are they really saying or thinking? It could be: "The price you have given me may be all right, in fact it could be great, but I don't know that for sure."

Doing ‘better'

The reason they want to get more prices is they feel that they can do better. You have not set the value high enough in their mind to satisfy spending the money you're asking for. When price comes up, you can attempt to answer the question and close the sale - or you can agree with the prospects and let the next person close the sale.

Price is always asked to determine the money to be spent; never to end a sale. However, it amazes me how many salespeople stop going into the question of price. I believe that many salespeople can't justify the prices they need to be profitable and therefore fold at the question.

This brings us to a very big question: Do you believe in everything you tell a customer?

How can you persevere when you don't believe that what you're saying is the truth? The reason most salespeople give in when asked to reduce the price is they believe there is enough profit even when the price is reduced.

A large part of the problem comes from management and their attitude about price. I have met a large number of people who feel that jobs are closed based on price. What they fail to see is that being able to sell and overcome this objection will result in more profits than all the "better buys" they can get from their suppliers.

(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.)