A simple closing habit comes from recognising how we all use language. Question: when are words meaningful and when are they not? When us Brits say, “Hi. How are you?”, we rarely mean how are you. We expect the answer to be, “Fine, thanks. You?” even if the person is feeling terrible. It’s just a form of greeting, not a genuine attempt to check you’re healthy and happy (sorry if this is breaking news to you!).
One of the challenges of life is understanding what people really mean and that challenge is magnified in sales.
One tip is to avoid being too literal in our understanding of what people say and find ways to read between the lines. Plus, once we’ve read between lines, a bit of clarification helps. A common example of this is around commitment to a next step.
Example: “Yes, send me some details and I’ll get back to you.” or “Happy to speak again; let me get back to you.” In a huge number of cases, they DO NOT mean that they will get back to you; it’s just a conversational habit to sign off with very little meaning.
Just like that old work colleague you bump into. Post-quick chat in the street, one of you says: “Be great to catch up properly sometime. Let’s arrange something.” “Sure, drop me a line with some options.”
You both know you’re not going to do that. If you wanted to meet, you’d take a minute there and then to pull out the portable diary / messaging / contact device in your pocket and arrange it on the spot.
And that’s exactly what you should do when a client says, “Happy to speak again; let me get back to you.” Get calendars out / on screen / in sight and book something there and then.
“I know how busy you are and the last thing I want to do is chase you when you’re doing something else so let’s look at diaries for a convenient time to speak again… Can you do Thursday of next week?…. Late morning?….. Shall we say 11?”
The point of this is not to force uninterested prospects into a meeting or call they don’t want. The point is to ascertain whether their “Happy to speak again” really meant they’re happy to speak again.
Serious intent will almost always translate to a date and time though we’ll never get to 100% certainty on this. In addition, if they are seriously interested, you are genuinely helping them to progress the process by agreeing a timeframe.
A lack of intent will usually translate to a lack of commitment to a date and time for the next step.
We should never force a potential buyer to do something they don’t want to do. But, as salespeople, we do need to understand that there’s a huge difference between the words people say and what they mean.
Our job is to take those words and probe for meaning.