Thursday, July 2, 2009

Closing Excitement and Etiquette

Sales trainer Renee Walkup recently wrote about something that isn't usually talked about - but should definitely be recognized - closing etiquette. Her bad example is Ed Helms' character, Andy Bernard, from the TV show The Office, but I'm sure you know a few people just like him. Read on for Walkup's great tips.

If you are a fan of the TV show, "The Office" you aren't alone. Those of us in sales have to laugh when watching Ed Helms' character. Ed does a brilliant rendition of the "typical" obnoxious salesperson with his character, Andy. Just the other day, Ed was on my other favorite humor radio program, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." I almost fell out of my seat, when I heard Ed describe his character, Andy, like this: "Andy is totally transparent, but actually is convinced that he's stealthy."

Isn't that so true? Andy can't help but either snicker inappropriately, roll his eyes when he's annoyed, and do a jig when he closes a sale while shouting "YEAAAHH!"

So my question to you is, how do you react when you close a sale? Are you transparent, stealthy, calm, bored, excited, or what? What does your customer see and hear from you when you hear the sweetest love words a salesperson dreams of... "yes!"

Why then, do I see salespeople sometimes act inappropriately when they close a deal? For example, I have seen salespeople who calmly reply "ok" and then pack up and leave the scene (in person or on the phone). On the other extreme, I have witnessed salespeople embarrass themselves by pulling an "Andy" and breathing a huge sigh and say something to the effect of, "Thank goodness I can make my goal this month, YIPPEE!"

Now, you have worked hard to get this deal. Haven't you? How SHOULD you react? If Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, or Stephen Spielberg were directing you, the advice would go something like this: "Make your customer feel as though he/she has just made a significant decision that's important to you, but avoid peeing in your pants with excitement."

How to do that? Here are my tips for communicating excitement and enthusiasm while maintaining your cool professionalism.

1. Acknowledge the close. When your customer says "yes" the first action you should take is to comment. Make the customer feel important by acknowledging the close, or sometimes he will take it back later. You might say something such as: "That's great, Jake. We are excited about the opportunity of helping you grow your business." Another idea is: "Thank you so much for selecting our firm, Jake. That's great!" Or: "I'm delighted that we're going to team up on this initiative. We have a perfect match!"

2. After acknowledging the sale, offer up an action. "Jake, the first step we'll need to take is to make sure we have all the stakeholders contact information. Let's go ahead and make a list..." Or "I have the contract right here. Let's go ahead and get the agreement signed off on so we can get started for you." An alternative is: "OK, before we get started on the project, let's review our timeline together..."

3. Make sure the customer feels "the love" too. He should be happy that you are going to work together, because after all, he had other choices. There most certainly was competition and he's going to have to tell the other companies why he chose yours. If you have a skilled competitor and your contract hasn't been signed off on yet, you may be at risk of still losing the sale. Get him to smile and repeat essentially how eager he is to get started as well. You can do this with a question, such as: "Jake, we've worked hard to get this partnership sealed. I hope you are as eager to get going on this as I am. What steps do you want to take first?" Make sure that your customer has the buy-in for action by using your skills to keep him involved in the close.

Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK, a national sales performance company, as well as a well-recognized keynote speaker, sales coach, and author, with a 25-year background in sales, sales team management and training. Learn more at

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