Tag Archive | "Sales"

Chrysler: Jeep Drives U.S. Sales Up 14% in April

Via MLive

DETROIT, MI- Chrysler today reported U.S. sales last month of 178,652 units, a 14 percent increase compared with sales in April 2013, and the group’s best April sales since 2007.

All of the Auburn Hills-based automaker’s brands besides its namesake brand posted year-over-year sales gains in April compared with the same month a year ago. The Jeep brand’s 52 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any brand, followed by Ram Truck up 22 percent, Fiat up 10 percent, Dodge slightly up, and Chrysler down 21 percent.

“Strong consumer demand for our Jeep sport-utility vehicles and Ram pickup trucks continued in April as Chrysler Group extended its streak to 49-consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. “The spring selling season is heating up as our Jeep brand had its best monthly sales ever. Both of our minivans had a strong April and the Ram pickup truck had its best April sales ever.”

Through the first four months of this year, Chrysler’s U.S. sales are up 12 percent from the same time a year ago to nearly 655,000 cars and trucks sold.

Chrysler was the first of the Detroit automakers to report its April sales. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and non-domestic automakers are scheduled to release their results later today.

Industry analysts expect pent-up demand from the first two months of the year and rising consumer confidence to drive April U.S. auto sales up at least 9 percent for compared to a year ago.

“Things are looking pretty strong, certainly quite a bit better than we saw in January and February,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Sales remained quite robust.”

Inclement weather across the Midwest and other parts of the country for the first two months of the year hurt auto sales.

Both compact utility vehicles and full-size trucks, as they have been doing this year, will benefit from this month’s strength, according to Gutierrez.

The expected increase in sales would bring the year-to-date total to 5.15 million vehicles sold, a 3.6 percent increase from this time last year.

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Success Begins in Your Mind

A good attitude is one of the most important traits a sales professional can have. Most people who fail in business fail because they don’t know how to keep their attitudes positive on a daily basis. They start their careers learning and practicing the basics, applying these ideas and end up making lots of money. Then, they go into a slump. They will stay in their slump until they go back to the fundamentals, until they return to doing what they get paid for — accepting failure and rejection without letting it stop them.

The key to success is in how you handle failure. Handling failure does not come naturally to most people. It is an acquired skill. Some of your emotions tell you to sulk and avoid any situations in the future that are likely to put you in line to feel the pain of rejection again. Other emotions tell you to get more out of life for yourself and your loved ones. Instead, concentrate on what you have to gain, and learn how to change your attitude toward rejection.

I am going to present five sayings that have helped me move forward in all areas of my life. Memorize them and recall them when you’re rejected or have failed to achieve what you wanted.

1. Failure is a learning experience. Every sale that doesn’t go through is a chance to learn something, as is every challenge. Learn from your failures. Thomas Edison, who conducted more than ten thousand experiments on filaments before he produced a practical light bulb, was once asked, “How did you keep going after you failed more than ten thousand times?” Edison replied, “I did not fail ten thousand times; I learned ten thousand ways that didn’t work.” Like Edison, try to look at failure and rejection in a different light — as a learning experience.

2. Failure is the feedback I need to change my direction. Outside a restaurant with a lively bar, I once saw a gentleman who’d had too much to drink to try to unlock his car with the wrong key. No matter how many times he tried, the wrong key still didn’t work. After I’d talked to him into taking a taxi home, it occurred to me that sometimes we all keep trying to make the wrong key unlock the door, keep using techniques that don’t work in our selling endeavors, keep applying the wrong solution to the problem long after we’ve tried it and failed.

3. Failure is the opportunity to develop my sense of humor. Have you ever had a traumatic experience involving a sales presentation? Three weeks later, you finally tell someone about it and suddenly that same event is hilarious. The longer you wait to laugh, the more that failure will hold you back. Make a determined effort to laugh sooner, and learn the trick of telling a good story on yourself.

4. Failure is an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance. Every time you present your service to others and they don’t buy it, at least they gave you a chance to practice. Many people don’t realize the importance of this. Learn to appreciate the opportunity to become better.

5. Failure is the game I must play to win. Selling is a game with its own rules; luck plays a small part, but the winners play ball. Over the years, I’ve discovered that a single rule dominates every situation: those who risk failure by working with more people earn more money. If you risk failure, sometimes you will fail. But every time you fail, you’re that much closer to success. Success demands its percentage of failure.

Here is a philosophy that I teach my students to live by: I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.

What counts isn’t how many transactions fall out, how many doors slam, how many things don’t work out, how many people go back on their word. What counts is how many times you pick yourself up, shrug and keep on trying to make things come together. There are challenges, obstacles and troubles in every kind of business, but they are all temporary if you take control of your thoughts and develop the right attitude. I believe that winners are winners because they’ve learned to fuel their success drives by overcoming failure.

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The More Things Change …

I’m a firm believer in that old cliché, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Over four decades of sales and management, I have seen remarkable advances in the technology that we use to move information around between customers, prospects and providers. Those changes have dramatically impacted the speed of communication which, in turn, has only increased the importance of process and accountability.

The pace of business today has been completely transformed from just a decade ago, let alone 20 or 30 years back.

Economies of scale still matter and the big can still beat the small, but more and more I am witnessing the fast beating the slow and the smartest beating the smart.

The rules have changed in many areas of our competitive arena and they will continue to.

The principles of sales however, have not. The process of thorough fact finding to identify needs and problems that can be solved with provider solutions has not been replaced by computers, it has simply been accelerated. The importance of follow-up in the sales process has not been replaced by a computer, it has been elevated. The value of fulfillment on deliverables has not been replaced, it has increased. The importance of response time has not been reduced, it has been shortened. And the value of closing the sale by addressing every objection is timeless.

So, let’s look back and take a look at a few examples of how “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Looking back to the ’70s, when I started my sales career, I can remember pulling up to a pay phone and making calls from my window for an hour. There were no cell phones, so our daily sales activity included the time we spent calling a message service and returning calls. Suddenly, the cell phone appeared on the scene. We could now call from the car and, Presto! Another hour of productive time.

Unfortunately, our competitors soon had a cell phone too, and the advantage was gone. What did not change, however, was the process of deciding who to call and how to call. If we avoided returning that call to an irate customer before the cell phone, we still did it with the cell phone. If we avoided that follow-up sales call before the cell phone, we still had call reluctance with the cell phone. Cell phones made some of us more efficient but once we all had one, only those that followed disciplined processes took advantage of the tool.

At about the same time, the fax machine came along. We were one of the first to get one at a price of something like $3,000 (ouch!) and I remember how excited we were to use it. We soon learned that hardly any of the dealers or suppliers also had a fax machine so we couldn’t use it until everyone caught up. But once they did, the pace of communication accelerated again and suddenly our efficiency jumped a notch. What did not change, again, was the way we used the new technology. If we were remiss in our follow up before the fax machine, we continued to be after we had one. If we didn’t take the time to keep a contact directory before, we probably didn’t have one after. “The more things change …”

Then the PC came along and everything really changed. Add a dose of Internet, and suddenly the one-man operation had parity with his competitor giants. Mix in some e-mail, add a Blackberry and smartphone, and we are all in the same game, in the same race, in the same gate.

What I continue to marvel at, however, is how the same people keep making the same mistakes, at the same pace, the same way, for the same reasons.

My primary business activity is the direct delivery of income development services to auto dealers in Michigan, but we also own a wholesale and brokerage division that acts as an administrator, insurer and claim center. We touch every aspect of the process that makes up our industry and we have to communicate directly with consumers, dealers, insurers and regulators.

I see the same patterns regardless of the level of technology involved. Certain insurance company contacts respond in a timely and efficient manner and some do not. The speed of their network and e-mail has no effect on their business etiquette. If they were remiss and slow before they had e-mail on their phones, they still are with it.

It’s the same at the dealer level. There is a culture in every organization that drives the behavior of its staff. Before all the bells and whistles I have listed in this article, I can remember which dealerships answered the phone promptly and routed you to the person and/or department you were looking for and can remember the ones that did not. The advent of the auto attendant allowed some dealers to accelerate their excellent service and it allowed others to hide behind it and simply add to the delay in seeking remedy. At the top, one dealer used technology to enhance customer satisfaction, and one used it to get away with doing less. “The more things change …”

And then there’s the issue of cell phone etiquette. I have a pet peeve when it comes to cell phones. I did just fine when I didn’t have to deal with the distraction of making and receiving calls during other conversations and activities and I still do. I recently read a book that included a section on cell phones and driving. It cited research that showed that using a cell phone while driving had the same effect as being intoxicated when reaction times were measured in collision situations.

Sure, you can reduce the calls you have to return by taking them while you are with someone else in a meeting or at lunch but I have learned long ago that I gain a measurable advantage by avoiding the use of my phone when I am in a negotiation or in a meeting. I am always encouraged during a delicate negotiation when my opponent is taking calls and allowing other technology-related distractions to take his mind away from the task at hand. Knowing that he has to refocus his mind repeatedly, and that he often misses details from the process before the call he just took, while often an inconvenience, it is often profitable for me.

At seminars, I see many in the audience combing through their e-mail on their phones during presentations. In an effort to be “more efficient,” they may miss a key takeaway or an item that could have been used to make a difference in their sales efforts. We trade one advantage for another. “The more things change …”

In summary, the innovations of our time have only magnified the strengths and weaknesses of our planning and structure. The exponential acceleration of business tools and their related provisions serve only to separate those who have superior processes from those who do not. Fifty years ago, those of who had disciplined business plans and the ability and desire to execute them would separate themselves from those who did not over a long period of time. Today, it happens quickly.

I encourage my associates to remember that process and accountability are the secrets to success, not the machines that we use. A better mousetrap in the barn is of little use when the mice are in the kitchen of your house having a meal.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Planning, execution, and disciplined work patterns led the way to success in the past and they still do today.

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Are We Setting the Right Price?

As an actuarial consulting firm, we spend a lot of time deriving the specific cost for F&I products, both from an overall perspective and down to the granular level. For example, we develop models which inform you that the cost of a wrap service contract for a Hyundai Elantra with 30,000 miles and 2.5 years of service will be $45 less than a Hyundai Elantra with 45,000 miles and 3.5 years of service. (Note, we just made up these numbers).

So we are very precise with our estimates of what drives service contract claims. However, we don’t seem to be very precise when setting the final price to the consumer. Many administrators charge the same administration fee for all the contracts within the same product That makes little sense when some contracts are two years in length and others may be eight years in length. It will cost the administrator significantly more money to administer a longer contract (which will generate substantially more claims).

This problem is even worse with dealer and agent markups, which are often the same dollar amount regardless of the underlying coverage. The result is that the differential in the actual retail prices of service contracts are much narrower (from a percentage standpoint) than the underlying costs.

Percentages vs. Flat Dollar

A curious thing seems to have happened in the service contract industry: the common use of flat dollar amounts for dealer margin and administrative costs. Traditional insurance (including credit insurance) relies on percentages for acquisition and perhaps a mix of flat dollar and percentages for administration costs.

Percentages have definite advantages but these are not perfect. One problem with using percentages is that small dollar policies are not practical because the acquisition costs are too low to entice production.

One example is renters insurance. Renters insurance (which covers an insured’s belongings but not the structure) is a great product which protects the consumer against theft, fire, natural disaster, and personal liability. It is also fairly inexpensive, with typical premiums of less than $300 per year.

Since the premium is so low, the typical commission arrangement of 15 percent would provide less than $45 of commission. Because of this, agencies will rarely promote or market this product and penetration rates are low. According to the Insurance Research Council, only 43 percent of renters have renters insurance.

Too Much Coverage

Returning to service contracts, we often see higher sales on the most expensive coverage options – such as low deductibles, more coverage, and more expensive vehicles. While it may be true that buyers of these vehicles want these plans, it is also true that for most buyers the difference in the price of these plans (once again, in percentages) may not be so great.

While it is great to sell the most coverage, we might be seeing lost sales on the more discounted plans. It is often a murky world at the dealership, with trade-ins, negotiation, and other factors often driving the F&I product purchase decision. But flat dollar margins and administrative costs are making the most affordable products less affordable.

One option might be to use a combination of the two (percentage and flat dollar amounts) to price service contracts. For example, suppose the average reserve for a contract is $1,156, the administrator fee is $200 and the average dealer markup is $400. The table below shows the pricing options using flat dollar additions versus using 50 percent flat dollar and 50 percent percentage mark ups:

  Reserve Percent of Contract Flat Administrator Flat Markup Customer Price 50% Method
  400 5% 200 400 1000 804
  600 12% 200 400 1200 1056
  800 15% 200 400 1400 1308
  1000 15% 200 400 1600 1560
  1200 15% 200 400 1800 1811
  1400 15% 200 400 2000 2063
  1600 10% 200 400 2200 2315
  1800 8% 200 400 2400 2567
  2000 5% 200 400 2600 2819
Average 1156 100% 200 400 1756 1756

As you can see, the overall average margin is the same, but there is more price differential with allocating margin partially on percentage markups.

This reflects basic cost accounting for both the dealer and the administrator – higher priced coverages should not only reflect higher reserves for claims but also higher administrator fees and higher margins for dealers.

Beyond Cost Accounting

So far, we’ve limited our discussion to a more proper application of cost accounting, but we’ve ignored the other half of the equation: the demand for the product.

As we all know, some items are priced more for the demand than the cost of the supply. Airline tickets and hotel rooms are almost exclusively priced on the demand for the items.

For a hotel, it makes little sense to allow a room to remain unsold for the night when a lower price would entice a traveler to stay there. The same is true for selling an airline ticket – the plane will fly regardless of whether the seat is sold.

For dealers, the margin is controllable and could be optimized. For example, selling a service contract with a $100 margin is preferable to not selling the contract at all – and receiving a margin of $0.

For example, the willingness of a customer to pay for a service contract might depend on a variety of things, including:

  • The customer’s demographic profile
  • The vehicle that is being purchased
  • The time of day the sale is made
  • The dealership
  • The salesperson
  • The F&I manager
  • Any other factors
  • The price of the contract

The only one of these items that can easily be changed instantly is the price of the contract.

Wouldn’t it make sense to offer higher prices to those customers who see the benefit of the contract (and are more likely to purchase a contract) and lower prices to entice those who are less likely to purchase?

Using the information above, one can build a model which will predict the likelihood of purchase for any price. Of course, this model is dependent on the underlying data – both the amount and its predictive qualities.

Once the predicted sale rate is determined, the margin can be determined to increase the likelihood of selling the service contract. Using such a model would allow the dealership to increase the penetration rate for service contracts and the overall profitability for the book.

Option Customer A Margin Probability of Purchase Customer B Margin Probability of Purchase Customer C Margin Probability of Purchase
1 400 70% 400 85% 400 50%
2 500 60% 500 70% 500 45%
3 600 50% 600 55% 600 40%
4 700 40% 700 40% 700 35%
5 800 30% 800 25% 800 30%
6 900 20% 900 10% 900 25%
7 1000 10% 1000 5% 1000 20%
Current 700 40% 700 40% 700 35%
Optimal 500 60% 500 70% 700 35%
  Current Optimized Change      
Margin 700 567 -19%      
Close Rate 38% 53% 37%      
Profit/Sale 268 298 11%      

In this hypothetical case, the dealer can increase the average profit by 11 percent and offer a lower margin (but sell more contracts). Typical results for optimization projects are a 5 to 10 percent increase in profitability.

To begin a project such as this, you need data. If you are not capturing data which reflects your customers, your F&I product offerings and the results of your sales process (the margin and products offered and customer’s decision to a specific offering) you should begin to collect that data now for future analysis.

The next step is to create a model which predicts the sales penetration for products. This is helpful to see what factors are driving sales, such as product, vehicle, customer demographics or the F&I personnel.

Finally, this information can be used to develop a more robust pricing strategy for the dealership – one that incorporates the customer demand along with considerations such as negotiations, dealer objectives, long term customer relationships, refund exposure and all of the other factors which are part of the F&I process.

Administrators who price their products more effectively should see some increased penetration as lower priced coverage options should be more attractive as well as less costly to administer.

Regardless of your pricing strategy, the “Dark Ages” of simply adding flat dollars to a premium reserve should come to an end.

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GM’s U.S. Sales in January Top Estimates; Toyota Bounces Back

General Motors Co.’s U.S. sales in January rose more than analysts’ estimates, aided by bigger discounts, pickups and new models, and Toyota Motor Corp. rebounded from a year ago when a recall halted deliveries.

GM sales in the month gained 22 percent to 178,896 vehicles, topping four analysts’ average estimate for a 9.2 percent increase. Toyota’s sales rose 17 percent to 115,856 vehicles, beating the average estimate for a 16 percent gain, Bloomberg reported.

Industrywide deliveries may have reached the second-fastest pace in 17 months with a seasonally adjusted 12.4 million vehicle annual rate in January, the average estimate of six analysts. GM’s discounts and sales incentives last month rose 28 percent from a year earlier to an average of $3,762 per vehicle as the company sought new buyers, according to Edmunds.com.

“GM was very aggressive with some of its incentive spending,” Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Santa Monica, California-based Edmunds, said in a telephone interview. “They had some loyalty programs in the market.”

Toyota’s sales climbed from January 2010, when the Toyota City, Japan-based company temporarily halted sales of eight U.S. models after recalling millions of vehicles for unintended acceleration.

Ford Motor Co.’s light-vehicle sales rose 9.2 percent to 126,981, the company said in a statement. That trailed the average of four analysts’ estimates for an 18 percent gain.

GM fell 10 cents to $36.39 at 3:53 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Through yesterday, the Detroit-based company’s shares had gained 11 percent from the $33 initial public offering price. Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford was unchanged at $15.95.

Incentive Spending

GM’s incentive spending increased “modestly,” and its sales gains were fueled by more advertising and strong new models, Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, said today.

“We’re not going to return to the days of driving production with incentives,” Johnson said on a conference call. “We know that is not going to be a recipe for success for us.”

Chevrolet deliveries gained 19 percent to 125,389 vehicles, GM said today in a statement. Sales of the Equinox small SUV climbed 35 percent to 12,847. Deliveries of the new Chevrolet Cruze compact, which is replacing the Cobalt, rose 25 percent from December to 13,631 in January.

Retail customers accounted for 88 percent of Cruze sales in the month, compared with 40 percent for the Cobalt in January 2010, said Alan Batey, vice president of Chevrolet sales.

‘Tremendous’ Momentum

“For GM, the new products are pulling consumers into showrooms,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive, a researcher in Lexington, Massachusetts. “They have a tremendous amount of momentum.”

GMC Sierra pickup sales increase 46 percent to 10,627, and Chevrolet Silverado deliveries rose 24 percent to 28,172.

Buick sales climbed 32 percent to 13,269, led by the Enclave sport-utility vehicle. GMC deliveries gained 30 percent to 27,658.

Cadillac sales rose 49 percent to 12,580. Deliveries of CTS sedans, coupes and wagons increased 70 percent to 4,362.

Since filing for bankruptcy in 2009, GM has closed Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn and sold Saab to focus on Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC. Sales of GM’s four remaining brands rose 23 percent from January 2010, the company said.

Sales of Ford’s Explorer SUV surged 73 percent to 7,351, the company said today in a statement. Overall deliveries for the namesake brand climbed 22 percent, tempered by a decline in sales of the Focus compact car.

‘Out of Their Caves’

“Consumers are coming out of their caves and spending money again,” George Pipas, Ford’s sales analyst, said yesterday during a briefing with reporters in Dearborn.

Deliveries of the Lincoln luxury brand declined 21 percent in January to 5,558.

Chrysler, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, said January sales rose 23 percent to 70,118 vehicles. The average estimate of four analysts was for a 27 percent gain.

Car sales dropped 22 percent to 11,425, driven by declines for the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Avenger sedans, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company said today in a statement. Jeep Grand Cherokee deliveries more than doubled to 7,612.

U.S. consumer confidence rose more than forecast in January to the highest in eight months, the Conference Board reported last week, while the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment fell less than analysts estimated. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported.

Nissan Tops Estimates

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest automaker, increased sales of Nissan and Infiniti brand vehicles by 15 percent last month, Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president of U.S. sales, said in an interview. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a gain of 14 percent.

Honda Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest carmaker, increased U.S. sales of Honda and Acura brand autos 13 percent last month to 76,269, said Chris Martin, a company spokesman.

The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a rise of 24 percent for Tokyo-based Honda.

Kia Motors Corp., the second-biggest South Korean automaker, said in a statement today its U.S. sales rose 26 percent in January.

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Closing Is Sweet Success

In the selling profession, closing is the winning score, the bottom line, the name of the game, the cutting edge, the point of it all. You may do everything else right up to the point of closing, but if you can’t ask for the business and wait for the client to answer, you’ll never do better than average in sales.

There are lots of techniques for prospecting, meeting new people, building referrals, qualifying, presenting or demonstrating products and services, and overcoming objections (also known as addressing concerns). But, if you can’t close the sale, you’re like a football team that can’t sustain a drive long enough to score. It does you no good to play your whole game in your own territory and never get across the other team’s goal line.

You have to fall in love with closing if you’re going to succeed at it long term. If you don’t love the closing process enough to master it now, start falling in love with it because this is where the money is.

True professionals are closing all the time. They close for names and contact information. They close for appointments. They close for opportunities to present their products or services. They are constantly trying test closes, and they can kick into their final closing sequence any time they recognize verbal or visual buying signs in their potential clients. Signs can include handling the product or asking for information they will need to know when they own it.

Many average salespeople get so wrapped up in their selling sequence that if potential clients decide to invest before they’re through, they won’t let them have the product. They feel compelled to finish their entire presentation. They just keep going in their set pattern of telling, telling, telling instead of selling.

Some clients do get sold quickly. If you keep talking instead of moving to the paperwork, you could very easily unsell them just as fast. More talk triggers more thought and has the potential to bring up more objections. Pay close attention. When you recognize that the prospect is ready, stop talking and start filling out those forms, getting that purchase order number or asking how they would like to handle the investment.

Next, I’m going to give you the eight most important words in the art of closing. These are the most powerful words I’ve ever heard spoken on the complex, demanding and well-paid art of closing. If you’re just skimming this article, PAY ATTENTION NOW.

Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up!

The important words are “shut up.” That is why the Father of Modern Selling, the late J. Douglas Edwards used to shout this at his audiences.

I was sitting in the front row at his seminar the first time I heard these words. I was already jumpy from the excitement of the program and had my head down taking notes as fast as I could, when Doug shouted “SHUT UP!”

I jumped right out of my chair and dove for cover. That memory is carved into my mind, along with those words. They explain the single most important element that turned my previously disastrous sales career into the record-breaking success it soon became.

Ask your closing question then keep quiet! The first person to speak owns the product. If you speak, the product will still sit in your car or warehouse. If the client speaks, the majority of the time, they’ll own it! They’ll either agree to make the purchase or ask a question. Either way the sale is still moving forward.

Being quiet sounds simple, doesn’t it? Believe me, it isn’t. I had a real challenge in this area and I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing wrong until I heard Doug Edwards say those words. I was a talker early in my career. I thought if I just kept talking that eventually the clients would agree to something I said.

The first time I tried to ask a closing question and then keep quiet, I was prepared for the prospect’s reaction. I expected her to keep silent—thinking about her decision. What I hadn’t prepared for was the intensity of my own reaction.

The silence felt like wet sand being piled on my chest. My insides were churning, I had to bite the inside of my lip and I was acutely aware of every nerve ending in my body. It was a gargantuan struggle not to fidget. I was wiggling my toes inside my shoes so I didn’t start jiggling my leg. Finally, the prospect did decide that she would invest, my body flooded with adrenalin and I never again dreaded that awful silence after asking a closing question.

Why is it so important to keep quiet? Let’s say the prospect hesitates for a few moments, wondering when he should take delivery. You become uncomfortable and assume that he is questioning the investment, so you blurt out that you’ll give him another 5 percent off the total investment or something free, when that wasn’t even the issue.

Now, you’ve just broken the trust you worked so hard to build to the point of closing. You’ll have to work twice as hard to earn the business because now he’s wondering if you truly have his best interests at heart.

There’s no way you can possibly know what potential clients are thinking when they’re quiet so don’t try to guess. Just sit and wait them out.

The average salesperson can’t wait more than 10 seconds after asking a closing question before saying something else. If “Mrs. Jones” hasn’t answered by then, they’ll say something like, “Well, we can talk about that later,” and go on talking, unaware that they have just destroyed the closing momentum.

And it’s probably not just the one close that is destroyed. “Mrs. Jones” can certainly keep quiet for a few moments—almost all undecided buyers can. She may now start to wonder what else you’ll tell her or offer her if she keeps stalling her decision.

If you’re true champion material, you can sit there quietly all afternoon if you have to. It takes concentration, but the actual silence after asking for the sale rarely lasts longer than 30-40 seconds. Try it now. Check your watch and just sit quietly for 30 seconds so you will understand what it feels like. If you’re compulsive like some of my students, you’ll find yourself counting “one one-thousand, two one-thousand” and so on. I don’t care how you get there, just learn what it feels like. Then you won’t be so quick to move on to another subject after you’ve asked your closing questions.

Having the skill, courage and concentration to sit still and be silent for at least half a minute is the single most vital skill there is in selling. Practice this until you get a feel for how long 30 seconds is, and then it won’t be so nerve-wracking when big money is riding on how calm and quiet you remain in a real closing situation.

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