In The Trenches
        Opening to CLOSE!

by Steven Pavent

   One of my battle cries is "if you don't ask the answer is always NO!" I see so many people in life who dance around subjects, hint what they want, but never come right out and ask. As scary as this may sound, many of these people are in sales. They're so busy using techniques, presentations and information, that they forget or possibly never learned those things that are most basic to human communication. Sales is not about guessing what the other party is thinking, what they want, or what they are willing to give. It's about finding out by asking the appropriate questions and then taking the appropriate actions based upon what you discover.
   How many times do you hear or say this, "Hello I'm Joe / Jane Shmoe with Joe / Jane Shmoe merchant services are you the person who handles your credit card processing?" Of course, this question immediately screams out to most listeners, "I want to sell you something," which gives a reason to resist, and absolutely no reason to be interested. Your opening statement should quickly tell the customer who you are, who you are with, mention something specific about your company and then ask a provocative question. This question must make them think and want to learn more. For example "Hello my name Steve with Business Payment Systems representing the second-largest payment processor and America, are you taking checks the old way or the new way?" When talking about your company in this opening be specific.
   Avoid terms like "largest, best, most prestigious, one of the leading." People are becoming immune to this and they know it's B.S.! Just look through many of the ISO advertisements for agents and you'll find many of these words used for companies that were started yesterday and are being run out of the owner's basement. I actually went to a small ISO's website one time to see their logo superimposed over the front of a large prestigious building to look as though it was their building, when in reality they were being run out of some boiler room month-to-month office space. Your provocative question could be just about anything as long as it makes them think and want to hear more. Some examples are:

  • Do you issue gift certificates the old way or the new day?
  • Do you go to the bank to deposit checks?
  • Would you leave your wallet up on the counter all day?

   What happens after the opening statement? If you're like most you start telling the prospect why they should be a customer or what your company is all about. We've all gotten that sales call that just launches right into their pitch. "Hello this blah with blah and I'm calling here to tell you about blah blah blah were the largest blah blah blah blah industry leader blah blah blah save you time blah blah blah save you money blah blah blah blah (this usually goes on for a minute or so) would you like to signup today?" The only thing good about that was they actually asked for the sale! How do you feel when you get these calls? I used to listen until the they paused and then tell them I wasn't interested. Well I didn't actually listen I would check my e-mail or look at something on my desk and, when they stop to take a breath, tell them I wasn't interested. Now if I run into anyone that bad I stop them right away! So, no matter where you go after your opening, I'm going to give you a secret that will help you earn more. The beauty is you already know how to do it and you're already very good at it. Here we go: just pause and say nothing for 30 seconds. There are three distinct instances that you should always pause:

  • After you ask a question (to get the answer),
  • After you make a statement (for emphasis and feedback),
  • After you hear an answer (ensure they are finished talking).

   I recently watched a documentary/entertainment movie called "Bowling for Columbine" about the Columbine school massacre and America's obsession with firearms and violence. They interviewed rocker Marilyn Manson and asked him what he would say to the students at Columbine if he had the chance. He responded by saying "I would say nothing, I would just listen." Never underestimate the power of silence!
   Last, always remember that if you don't ask the answer is always NO. This basically means trial close, pre-close, close! Do something to ask for the sale, you never know what you might get. Simply put, not asking is saying no on behalf of the customer. Make them say no, you never know what you might get. Back to the movie "Bowling for Columbine" the filmmaker is interviewing two students who were shot in the massacre. Both of the students still had bullets bought from Kmart lodged in their bodies. On the spur of the moment they all decide to go to Kmart's corporate offices and task the Kmart Corp. to stop selling assault weapon and handgun ammunition. What are the chances? Two kids and a kooky filmmaker walk in to the Kmart corporate offices unannounced to plead their case. Believe it or not Kmart says yes and agrees to stop selling that type of ammunition.
   So I'll just ask; I'd like you all to go out and rent/watch this movie, it will make you think, it's actually entertaining and just maybe we can make the world a better place!