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Do you suffer from Sales Phobia — paralysing fear when it’s time to close?


Before anything can happen in business, someone must make a sale. In this five part series, Alex Pirouz outlines the dos and don’ts of successful selling.

Throughout my time in sales I have come across a lot of salespeople who are absolutely great at building rapport, and getting the client to the point of wanting to buy — but for some reason they feel uncomfortable about closing the sale.

It might sound silly, but I guarantee you there are salespeople out there with what I call Sales Phobia. In fact, you may know someone or have come across or even employed someone with this affliction.

Indeed, you are probably also a sufferer (even if only mildly affected, at times of weakness).

And here’s the worst part. Because the seller feels uncomfortable about projecting the wrong image to customers, the customers in turn perceive and feel this level of discomfort.

If this sounds like you or one of your employers, here are five steps to beat your affliction.

1. Understand Sales Phobia

Stop and think of it this way: if a salesperson is uncomfortable when taking the sale, then why should the client be comfortable making the payment? In my view there are two main reasons why this happens:

  • Doubt: Salesperson is not sure if they have done a good enough job in selling the product/service.
  • Fear: They fear that the customer won’t buy from them or will reject them, after all the effort they have put in.

With most salespeople, these beliefs have been conditioned deep in their subconscious throughout their career.

It’s important that if, or when, these beliefs manifest for you, you acknowledge the fact, and know that the more you follow the following steps, the more quickly you will eliminate these reasons.

2. Know your client percentages

By keeping statistics of your sales, you will gain insight as to what your results are like in the following categories:

  • % of customers who buy the first time
  • % of clients that need multiple steps
  • % that would buy after building rapport
  • % that buy from you regardless

By knowing your percentages, you will no longer have doubt, because your conversions will indicate where you are up to with each customer.

3. Build up before you close up

The next important tip to remember when going for the close is to never, ever go for the payment before confirming the client’s contact details, and recapping the main reasons why they wanted to buy in the first place.

There are several reasons for doing this:

  • Re-enforce: Re-enforce the main reasons why they wanted the product in the first place, bringing this to the front of their mind once more.
  • Double check their contact details: In sales, the more small YES answers you get before you ask for the big YES, the greater your chance of closing.
  • Build more rapport: Opportunity to use third-party verification and testimonials to establish more of a need for your product/service.

4. Secure the payment

Now that you have made sure the client details are right, re-enforced their main reasons for purchase and built more rapport, it’s time to ask for payment. And when asking for payment, always give the client three options. Why?

  1. When clients have one option, they have no option.
  2. When they have two options, they have a dilemma.
  3. When they have three options, they have choice.
  4. When they have four options, they have too many to choose from.

Make sure the product/service you are selling has three options.

Another thing to remember when asking for payment is to make sure both yourself and your client are in peak emotional states. Research has shown that when people are in a high positive emotional state, they tend to buy more.

And finally when you’re asking for payment, you need to ask a question which is designed to encourage their taking action now! The one question that has worked really well for my clients and me has been:

So how would you like to pay for that? With Visa, MasterCard, or Amex?

Take a moment now to think about how you want to structure your questions!

The question is structured in a way that will give the client three options to choose from, and it is also assumptive. We are not asking if they would like to pay for it, we are assuming they are going to pay.

5. The Close is the next sale

At the time of close, most salespeople think: I’ve made the sale and that’s the end of it.

In fact it’s only the beginning of the relationship.

When a client buys from you, another sale starts. This is your chance to sell the client why they should continue to buy from you, rather than forget all about you, and go somewhere else next time.

These days too much time and money is spent acquiring new customers rather than looking after pre-existing clients.

If you look after and pamper your existing customers, they will turn into raving fans, and your sales will mostly be coming from referrals. So stop spending so much time trying to get new sales, and go and contact the clients who purchased from you before.

Here are some final tips:

  • Touch base with them at least once a month
  • Remember their birthdays, and send them a card at the very least
  • Do not sell them every time you call them; the ratio of sale to contact should be 1:3
  • Remember their main values, and particulars of interest (kids, whether they were about to move, and other such personal particulars)
  • Get testimonials from them

Anytime you make a sale, you should think of that client as a client for life. Do whatever it takes to go beyond the call of duty to look after this client, and it will pay dividends. It’s the smallest things that make the biggest differences.

Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with the top 1% of Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their sales revenue. (Visit www.ridc.com.au for more details)

Image by Pete Simon