No matter how good the agents at a call center are at generating engaging conversation with a customer, unless they know how to close a sale effectively, that is all they remain restricted to – a conversation.
You could come up with the best pitch in the world, solve queries in the most efficient manner as possible, but unless you are able to create a purchase, you cannot be an effective agent.
In essence, such a conversation would go down in the statistics as a waste of time and resources for the company if it fails to generate a customer out of a lead.
The downside to not being able to close effectively goes far beyond simply taking up the company’s resources. Surveys show that conversationalists who cannot (or do not) close are actually making the job of the rival sales agent easier, and drawing a customer actively towards your competitors.
This is because if you have provided all the information but failed to convince them of the actual value, then that is all that the next person has to do.
The key to closing a sale is convincing the buyer of the value proposition you have put forward, and how it will actively help bring about solutions in their business or daily activities.
It is your job to guide them towards a decision that convinces them that their investment is bound to bring about the returns you project.
The close does not have to be one big line at the end. Rather, it is an amalgamation of the entire approach of the conversation.
As a bestselling author and businessman Harvey Mackay puts it, “You do not need a big close, as many sales reps believe. You risk losing the customer when you save all the good stuff for the end. Keep the customer actively engaged throughout the presentation, and watch your results improve.”
Today, there are different telemarketing software available which provide emphasis on the best way to close a particular deal.
It takes into account the buyer’s profile, buying history, tendencies in sales pitches, etc. and advises the agents on the best course of action.
Even with all of this empirical data, the agent needs to execute it perfectly for a purchase to actually happen, and for the company to gain a customer and thus boost its sales. This process is critical to the sustenance of the entire industry.
Keeping the importance of the close in mind, this article talks of a few tips that would help agents to close deals effectively and increase the performance for their call center.
1. Put a little pressure. You need to direct the thought process of your customer into making a sale as soon as possible.
Creating a situation of high pressure is almost certain to make your lead choose to not invest in your product. Therefore, the best course of action in such a scenario is to casually drop a hint within the conversation that the customer needs to make up their mind within a specified time frame.
This is an effective technique because it makes the message clear without having to be too aggressive about it. The customer understands what he or she has to do.
2. Remember that decision making is often emotional. A sale is completed if the customer trusts your brand.
The customer’s level of trust in your brand is largely dependent on his conversation with customer service representatives of that brand.
Therefore, it becomes very important for the call center agents to strike a chord with your clients emotionally in order to persuade them to purchase your products.
The involvement of emotion needs to go hand in hand with the removal of tension to make the customer feel relaxed and convinced about their choice.
3. Do not drag the conversation on unnecessarily. As has been mentioned before as well, continuing with a conversation even after the customer has hinted interest in buying can only lead to weaker sales practices, and make the company lose customers.
Agents need to be very much alert about when to stop describing a product and start talking delivery. Once a customer is convinced about buying, it is the duty of the employee to react accordingly, stop trying to sell it anymore and start talking about the formalities.
One must always bear in mind that getting a customer interested is one thing, but keeping him interested is a different game altogether.
4. Presume the sale is done unless the customer tells you otherwise. This is a very bold approach, where the agent acts as if the deal is done already, and proceeds in that manner unless the customer asks him to stop.
The intention behind this is to present a strong, convincing attitude and essentially make the client, make a decision in seconds, that he would otherwise have quite a few minutes to make.
This technique needs to be handled very carefully because it can appear to be too imposing if not done right. It is useful when you know your client is leaning towards a sale, but otherwise it could even serve to push them away further than where they were.
5. End your closing with a question. Ending with a question shows interest in the client’s decision. It shows the lead that you are aware of their needs, and that you are there to clarify whatever they might have doubts about.
Open-ended questions such as “How does that sound?” or “Shall we take this forward tomorrow?” allow the lead to feel like their input is valued and this leads to them being more easily convinced to purchase the product.
Finding the question that works for each individual sales call is very important, since all of these potential customers would love to be appreciated for spending their time listening to your pitch.
If executed properly, this technique can significantly boost sales.
6. Keep it simple and direct. The most head on technique you can implement is directly asking the customer to make an order, after you have described every relevant feature sufficiently.
There is often a belief that sales can only be completed using fancy techniques, but there is no reason why a simple approach cannot be just as effective, if not more.
The lead is aware that he or she is on a sales call, so there is very little to gain out of beating around the bush. More often than not, a lead is going to appreciate how direct and honest your approach is, and buy into your philosophy of marketing.
7. Clear a time frame with your lead. Clarity of approach is an important aspect of an effective closing. Agreeing on a time frame by which the decision will be made has two benefits.
First, it gives you a very clear picture of exactly when you will know the results from an individual lead. Second, the client appreciates that they are being given time to think about the purchase, rather than being steamrolled into one action or the other.
This improves your prospects significantly because you now have a client who trusts your attitude and approach, and considers that while making the purchase.
8. End on a positive note. The period of a call between the greeting and the closing is the time for you to figure out all the nuances of purchasing and selling a product.
The beginning and the end, however, need to be positive regardless of how the rest of the call has gone. After sorting through all the technicalities and formalities, the customer is going to have a far more positive impact just on hearing a simple “Thank you for your time” or “It was great talking to you.”
These little things add up to create a big impact in the customer’s mind. Maintaining positivity can only better your chances, since the client will now have time to think about their choice and subconsciously remember the way they felt about the interaction.
The Case Study
We have spoken about how important it is to develop a proper closing strategy in order to inject real effectiveness into your sales pitches.
This article has described several tips that contribute to building a very strong close, and is guaranteed to boost sales for a call center that works on its sales tactics from beginning to end.
Every little thing that you do as an agent has an impact on the potential buyer, and it can either convince them to invest in your product, or push them away to a point of no return – such is the significance of how well you can close a lead.
To further illustrate this point, let us take the example of Trident Marketing Solutions, a telemarketing agency providing call center software for a large organization.
In this case study, we will take a look at the situation that the company was in, the challenges it faced and the solutions that its top leaders managed to incorporate to eradicate those challenges.
We will also devote some time to understanding the effects of the changes that were brought about and how the results showed a positive change.
The Problem Scenario
Trident is a call center handling services with prospective clients, aggressively marketing their products to new markets, new leads and potential customers.
Their lead generation is great, but the managers are noticing a lot of leads being dispatched after follow up calls. Thus, their leads to sales conversion ratio was dropping.
The major obstacles that the company faced in its day to day operations are listed below.
1. Employees were clocking very high average call times, yet there was a lack of conversion from leads to customers. Many people were opting out even after they were provided all the information.
2. There was no specific software support to guide the agents regarding what sort of decisions should be taken during a conversation with the specific customer to draw out the best results. Decisions were often haphazard and varied from agent to agent.
3. Customers often complained that agents were putting them under too much pressure because they were competing within the office to generate the most number of sales.
By trying to do so, agents often lost potential customers, which hurt the company financially as well as in brand value.
The managers came up with the following list of solutions aimed at countering the problems that they faced.
1. Proper training was given to the employees regarding when to close a deal.
They were given support to understand at which point the customer was convinced, and asked not to drag the conversation on, after that point.
2. The company decided to invest in the best telemarketing software which would analyze the profile of each individual lead and throw up decisions to make the best out of a conversation with that individual person.
3. Key performance indicators were defined such that they stressed on quality of performance rather than quantity, so agents would be more focused in delivering their best rather than doing it the most number of times.
Within two quarters of full time implementation of software and training imparted to agents, the results were beginning to show clearly.
Customer satisfaction levels were on the rise, leads conversion rates were increasing and sales was heading towards a profit over and above the investment on training and software.
The next year saw the company raise its profit margins 5% up over the previous year, making it their most prosperous business year in existence.
Furthermore, new markets were being targeted, and new customers were coming on board, which made projections even brighter for the coming years.
Thus we see what an impact a strong closing can have not only on the mentality of the customer, but on overall sales and performance of the company itself.
Following the tips mentioned here, is a very effective way to sharpen your agents’ closing skills and ensure that you put your best foot forward in such a competitive environment.