So you have decided to open a small business. It's just you and the shingle you hung outside the door. You are the boss, the big cheese, the President and CEO of a company that will be huge - and make you rich, right? Sure. But only if you know how to get new customers to buy your product or service.
In Michael Gerber's excellent book The E-Myth Revisited, he talks about how most folks who become entrepreneurs really have no business doing so. Typically they are people who feel like they could do what they do for someone else better if they were doing it for themselves. He refers to this as the "entrepreneurial seizure" and most who succumb to this phenomenon are destined to fail. The reasons are myriad, but one of the biggest is the fact that these people are not able to sell. Selling is an art-form, and if you do not have experience in sales then you have a very steep learning curve to navigate in order to be successful as a small business owner.
I have no experience in sales, but I have already started by business... so now what?
While getting good at sales is a long process and will take time and quite a bit of trial and error, there is one thing you can do right now that will help get you more business and make you more money; ask for their business. I know this might seem like an obvious statement, but studies show that even professional salespeople rarely ask for the sale. They do all the other things needed to close a deal, but they skip the most important one which is asking for the business with a closing question. They build value, they build rapport with the prospect, they present the product and the price... then they leave. Even a simple closing question such as, "do you want to buy this?" is better than not asking anything at all. However, a good closing question can mean the difference between success and failure much more often.
Okay, so what is a good closing question?
The problem is that most solopreneurs feel like asking for money is embarrassing or somehow obnoxious. That comes from the idea that a closing question has to be somehow finite or obvious, that it has to be the "okay i have talked about everything i know to talk about, here comes the big scary do you want to buy question". In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. A good closing question is just the next question you ask. The whole sales process is a series of questions from you... "what do you need", "how can we help", "does that sound like a good fit for your needs", "was traffic bad on the way here", "how did you want your name spelled on the invoice", "hows the weather today", "did you want your account with us to be for you or your company/wife", "how old are your kids" and on and on. The closing question should simply be the next question you ask them.
Did you notice that i included several closing questions in the examples? How many closing questions did you count? If you said three, then you are correct. If you didnt, then that is exactly the point. Closing questions arent some kind of specific, recognizable question, they are just the next question you ask.=
Now for the tricky part... which one of the three closing questions above is best? Any closing question is better than none, however the phraseology used is paramount when asking an effective closing question. Typically an open ended question or a yes/no question are not the most effective closing question. The best question to ask when closing is an either/or question.
If you provide your prospect a choice in answers, they will give you one of the choices you provide.
When you took tests in school you would typically give one of the choices provided when asked a multiple choice question, right? The same is true in a sales situation. If you provide the available answers, most people will respond with one of the answers you provide them. When you ask "did you want this in your name or your wife's name?", the prospect will typically answer with either "mine" or "my wife's", right? If i am asked "do you want your name as Richard or Rich on the agreement?" i usually answer Richard. There are thousands of ways to ask multiple choice closing questions. Try thinking some up for your business... put them in the comments below and we can discuss.