Thursday, January 8, 2009

Create "Ah-ha" Moments and Close the Sale

An "ah-ha" moment is a turning point. It is a flash of brilliance or discovery or just plain common sense that changes our way of thinking in an instant.

"In sales, ah-ha moments occur when prospects give themselves permission to buy," says sales trainer Al Uszynski. "They transform a customer with certain beliefs (i.e., one who doesn't need to buy from you) into a customer with different beliefs (i.e., one who is writing you a check.) Great salespeople create those moments for their customers."

"Ah-ha moments don't occur when your customer is glancing at a brochure that describes your company's history," continues Uszynski. "They don't happen when your prospect is viewing the umpteenth PowerPoint slide that details your product's capabilities. And they certainly don't occur when you show them the contract. If customers haven't given themselves permission to buy, they won't be signing any contracts."

"It is your job as a salesperson to help prospects have ah-ha breakthroughs," explains Uszynski. "After you've demonstrated your wonderful product and described the terrific value it delivers, inspire your prospects to give themselves permission to buy from you."

Here Uszynski gives us three ways to create ah-ha moments that turn, "Thanks, but no thanks." into "Thanks! Where do I sign?":

1. The worst thing that could happen is...
When you mention guarantees, warranties, and similar programs to prospects, you imply that there is a reduced risk for the buyer. But clearly spelling it out can really help you create an ah-ha moment for the customer. Describe a worst-case scenario that has a very positive appeal.

"Mr. Jones, picture this. It is one week from today and you just received delivery of your new living room set. Our hope is that you will absolutely love the way it looks in your home. But if you're not thrilled, just tell the delivery team and they'll load it back in the truck with no expense to you. The worst thing that could happen is that you get a chance to see this lovely furniture set in your home at no cost to you."

2. Use anecdotes that relate to most prospects

I once heard a professional speaker use a very powerful anecdote to sell his books, manuals, and CD sets to an auditorium filled with business professionals. His results were outstanding. On that November day he shared an anecdote about a woman who bought the $300 information package to help her achieve greater business success. Immediately after making the purchase she called her husband and told him not to buy her any Christmas gifts that year as she had already bought herself a gift. She then used the information from the products to help her earn over $20,000 in the coming months. Although her stocking was empty on Christmas Day, she went on a very nice shopping spree the following summer.

That anecdote was brilliant. Even I said, "Ah-ha!" Everyone in the room could identify with that woman and we all wanted to achieve similar success. The speaker had given us permission to buy. We had only to forego a few holiday gifts and we, too, could purchase the products guilt-free.

3. Rationalize the purchase

Remember those commercials from the early 1980's that featured Sally Struthers? She would give a tearful description of famine and suffering in Africa and urge viewers to donate money to help feed a starving child. Do you recall how she caused viewers to "rationalize" the donation? That's right. She said that for only 41 cents a day - the cost of a cup of coffee - we could help a needy child live a better life.

Notice that she didn't say $12.47 per month or $149.00 per year. By breaking the investment down into small chunks, she made it easier for the customer to swallow.

Realtors can use this technique to help buyers stretch their spending limits, explaining that an additional $10,000 for the home they really love would require just $50 more per month over the course of a thirty-year mortgage. Put it in perspective for them by pointing out that skipping just one dinner out each month could get them the home of their dreams. Maybe they could give up that daily visit to the snobby gourmet coffee shop in favor of a delicious self-serve coffee from the local convenient store. Or they might cut their own lawn instead of hiring a landscaper to do it.

"Ah-ha moments turn prospects into customers by giving them permission to buy," says Uszynski. "So find ways to help your customers give themselves permission by creating ah-ha moments every time you sell. You'll both reap the rewards."

Al Uszynski is a sales trainer and professional speaker. He delivers speaking programs that deliver smart and insightful sales strategies - designed to help your people and your organization sell more, earn more and profit more. Visit his website at for more information.

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