Closing techniques for timid sales people

"My hardworking team does a good job of building relationships with customers, but they lack a sales edge and seem reluctant to actually ask for the business. Am I wrong in being concerned about this?"

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Any professional salesperson outside the estate agency industry will have been trained in closing skills, yet I witness an alarming amount of selling situations where the agent fails to close – including some where they fail to try! Too often business flies out of the window due to a valuer or negotiator bringing a conversation to an end by a throwaway “I’ll leave it with you” or “Give me a call when you’ve had a think”. This is not closing. This is bottling it.

I’ll leave it with you,” or, “Give me a call when you’ve had a think.” This is not closing. This is bottling it.

Conversely, pushing people into decisions they are not ready to make never ends well. It leads to clients reflecting on the outcome and changing their mind and pulling out. Pushy salespeople rarely have sustained success– the most successful practitioners will adopt a much more ‘pull’ approach. This however, takes more skill and subtlety.

Closing is not about coercion at the end of an appointment or conversation, but rather about gaining agreement throughout.

Julian O'Dell
Julian O’Dell is Founder of TM Training & Development

Naturally some clients will do the closing for you – if you’ve done a great job at registering an applicant, offer a couple of possible properties, they may ask to view them before you need to suggest it. Similarly, a potential vendor in front of a valuer as the appraisal appointment nears an end, thinking how brilliant that valuer has been and how impressive they are compared to others they’ve met, could bring things to a conclusion, asking, “So how quickly can you get our house on the market then?” In short, the higher the standard of everything you have done up to the point of closing has been, the less likely you are to have to rely on closing techniques.

Techniques in your locker

However, it is still crucial to have a few closing techniques in your locker for when necessary. There are hundreds of recognised approaches but many don’t suit the unique nature of the estate agency industry.

Ones that should be part of an agent’s skill set include the ‘summary staircase’. This technique comes towards the end of a sales conversation and, as the name suggests, involves the technique of summarising back to the person you are selling to before seeking a final positive response. A valuer might summarise as follows:

  • Valuer: “So before I leave, can I check that we’ve covered everything we set out to do today… we discussed the suggested marketing price of your property and the evidence points to £300,000. You’re happy with that?”
  • Client: “Yes.”
  • Valuer: “We talked about how we get you the best price for your property. Are you happy that our services are geared to getting you the result you’re looking for?”
  • Client: “Yes.”
  • Agent: “And we agreed a fee of 1.5 per cent plus vat on a no sale, no fee basis?”
  • Client: “Yes.”
  • Agent: “I wanted to answer all your questions about the market, the selling process and our company. Have I done that?”
  • Client: “Yes.”
  • Agent: “So with that in mind, I hope you’re happy to go ahead?”
  • Client: “Actually, yes.”
Confidence and rejection

Of course, nothing works 100 per cent of the time but the summary staircase is extremely effective in most cases. The ‘disarm close’ is another great technique, particularly useful for salespeople who are not natural closers.

“I know you’re not necessarily looking to make a decision today, but if you were, would it be us you’d be choosing to instruct?”

Anything less than a positive response will mean you have an issue that needs dealing with – a simple, “You don’t seem 100 per cent sure…” can tease out the client’s concern and give you a chance to address it face to face rather than on the phone later, when the potential instruction is slipping away towards a competitor.

An ‘assumptive close’ is a statement rather than a question – “let’s get viewing appointments lined up on those three properties then…” or “right, I’ve got everything I need to get your property on the market for the weekend…let’s get things up and running…”

An assertive salesperson will use this approach to great effect with the right people in the right situations to nudge them in the direction they want.

I suspect some agents simply don’t close for fear of rejection. Though it might seem harsh, Zig Ziglar’s quote should be borne in mind: “Timid salespeople have skinny kids”.

Julian O’Dell TM Training & Development 07718 634235

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