“Always be closing. That doesn’t mean you are always closing the deal, but it does mean that you need to always be closing on the next step in the process.” ~ Shane Gibson
Selling is really all about closing. Without closing the sale, you have no sale. There are literally dozens, maybe even hundreds, of different closing techniques and phrases, but the one I have always had the most success with, and been most comfortable in using, is what is called the “option” close. By using the option close, you are leaving the customer free to make a choice, but taking away the customer’s, “No, thanks” fall-back response. I have found the option close particularly effective in the self-storage industry in both renting spaces and selling moving supplies.
Here’s how the option close works – Mrs. Smith comes in to buy some boxes. In the course of the conversation you find out she is putting her house up for sale and wants to remove some of the clutter. You have decided to show Mrs. Smith 2 options, a moving kit that has a variety of box sizes or box bundles of a particular size that would give her nice discount and ease of stacking since all boxes would be the same size. Using the option close, you simple ask, “Which would work better for you Mrs. Smith, the moving kit or the bundle of small boxes?” By using the option close, you have given Mrs. Smith 2 choices and “let me think about it” isn’t one of them.
In this instance, let’s say Mrs. Smith replies that the small box bundle will work best for her needs. Your next option close would be something like, “Great, are you going to want 3 bundles of small boxes or do you think 2 bundles will be enough to get you started?” Now you have greatly increased the chances of selling 2 bundles instead of only 1.
So how would you use the same option close technique in renting a space? It’s quite simple, really. Mrs. Smith has decided she isn’t going to want all of those boxes taking up space in her garage and wants to look at renting a space from you. Based on what she has bought, you determine a 5×10 space will be adequate for her needs, but you also know a 5×15 would allow her room to move around when searching through her boxes for something, so you show both sizes. Now, you simply ask the question, “Which space do you think will work best for you, Mrs. Smith, the 5×10 or the roomier 5×15?” Or perhaps the option is between a 5×10 non-climate and a 5×10 climate controlled. You get the point.
I like to use sports analogies whenever possible to illustrate a point and I heard a great analogy recently that applies directly to using the option close. The sports-caster was talking about Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. Now I’m no Patriots fan, but I have to admit Coach Belichick has done some amazing things with his team. The sports-caster stated that what Coach Belichick does is remove the opponent’s strength. In other words, if the opponent has a great secondary, Coach Belichick concentrates on the run game with a mix of screen plays and short passes. He plays to the opponent’s weakness and not to their strength.
Certainly a customer’s strength is the ability to say, “No”. The option close greatly reduces or even eliminates the customer’s ability to give “No” as an answer to your closing question. Think about recent sales opportunities you have lost. Did you give the customer the opportunity to say, “No” to your closing question? Probably so or else you would have gotten the sale.
By learning to effectively present the option close, you will never come across as a “pushy” salesperson. You ‘re also giving the customer more of sense of still being in control because after all, the choice is up to them, but either choice the customer makes is a win for you. Experiment with this technique and learn to own it and be comfortable using it. I think you will see some great results with it.