Those brought up in the world of commercial selling are trained in the art of closing – the process of encouraging the prospect to take a step towards buying your product or service.
Many of us find it hard to close. It makes us feel uncomfortable. We’re anxious that we’ll be seen as too pushy. Or we’re anxious that the prospect might say ‘no’ and we’ll feel rejected. So we tend to avoid closing. The downside is that potential sales are missed.
To help lawyers understand the closing process, here’s an adaptation of the famous Benjamin Franklin close which is very popular in the commercial world of selling. Do we think it is applicable to selling legal services? Is it an example of sleight of mouth which might undermine trust in the relationship or a helpful process?
You`ve just finished making your pitch, but the prospect is undecided and can`t make up his mind. Suddenly you say something like this, “You know, Winston Churchill was one of the wisest and most decisive and respected men in history. Wouldn`t you agree, Mr. Smith?”
“Whenever he was faced with a tough decision, he would take a plain piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and put a plus sign on one half, and a minus sign on the other. He found that if he listed the benefits and the negative things , it would help him see the best course of action. Do you think that might help?
With your permission, I`d like to suggest we borrow Churchill`s method for just a moment. To help you in making a decision, let’s list the benefits – some of the reasons you should make this purchase. Then we`ll list the negatives. Fair enough?”
You pass the piece of paper and pen to the prospect and ask them simply to list all of the benefits of your offering.
You might start off by suggesting one of the benefits but then let the prospect list most of them. Whatever the prospect writes down will obviously be the main points of interest to him. Make sure you develop a complete list, perhaps by prompting with appropriate areas to explore such as reporting, communication, geographical coverage, technical expertise etc.
After you`ve listed all of the positive points, let the prospect list the negatives. Don`t say a word while the prospect is listing the negatives.
What is fascinating is that the list of negatives is always be shorter than the list of positives. Why? Because usually the only negatives prospects can think of have to do with price.
Once the list has been completed you say, “Mr. Smith, if Winston Churchill was looking at this piece of paper with the benefits you have listed versus the reasons not to have those benefits, don’t you think he would choose the benefits?”
This approach has been closing sales in the commercial world for decades. Do we think it is applicable for selling legal services? What other ways of closing help you get clients to commit to buying your services?