In today's world of computers, tablets, cell phones, websites, Facebook, snapchat, social media, etc., it seems as though some vending companies have lost sight of one of the most important objectives for their company. The thought process seems to be that the company website, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media will lead to the phone ringing with locations saying "please come be our vending company."
Oh, if this were only true, it would be so easy to start, build and grow a financially successful vending business. My twenty three years of experience in vending reveals that it is not that easy.
I submit that it is very easy for the vending company owner/general manager to become engrossed in employee relations, inventory control, purchasing, customer relations, etc. and lose sight of closing the sale. Let's face facts! If you don't close the sale for your company, none of the other areas of your operation will matter.
Defining a close
On more than one occasion I have been asked the following question, “ Just exactly what is a sales close?". The answer to that is very simple. A sales close is any question you may ask your customer to which the answer confirms the fact that they have agreed to let your vending company be their provider of refreshment services.
Many vending company owners and managers are very proficient at preparing an in depth analysis of what the customer's needs and wants are, what inventory to purchase and what quantities, route management...the list goes on and on. Over the years, and working as a marketing-advertising and sales consultant for companies all over the USA, it still befuddles me when I see a vending company sales rep go into every detail about all of the benefits that the location will receive, but then never ask the customer for the order.
I have actually heard sales people say the following: “ Here's the proposal you requested, “ and then tell the customer, “Review it in detail. Look it over, and I will get back to you in a few days.” If you have ever made this usually fatal sales blunder, I suggest you start attempting to close the sale the minute you open your mouth.
There are many different types of sales closes and if you are not adept at using them, you are probably losing more sales than you are making. If you don't close at least 50 percent of the proposals you are submitting, then you need to increase your inventory of sales closes.
Two sample closes
Here are two examples of sales closes that will assist in closing more vending proposals. I actually know a number of different sales closing questions, but space limitations only allow for two at this time. The first is: "an alternate of choice" close, and the second is 'nine word' close.
The 'alternate of choice' goes something like this: "Would you prefer a two year or three year vending service agreement?" If their answer is two year or three year you immediately get out your agreement and start filling it out. You understand if they don’t stop you they just bought your services. Don't ever give a customer only one choice. If you give your customers only one choice you will more than likely not make the sale in over 50 percent of the time. Do not ever ask any closing question where the answer can be either yes or no. You will miss more sales than you make if you do. I guarantee it.
The 'nine word' sales close is a very basic close in which you ask the customer the nine magic words. The nine magic words are “ It looks good to me, what is your opinion?” If the customer says, "it looks good to me,” they just bought. You merely then ask them to OK your vending service agreement and show them where. If they don't stop you, they bought.
One thing you never-never-never-never do is to ask them to sign something. What have we all been told about signing something? “You didn't sign anything did you?" "Look out." "Beware." "I can't sign anything we have to send it to our legal department."
I have found on many occasions, a customer won't sign anything, but they will readily OK it. I have actually had customers put “OK” on an agreement instead of signing it. I then just laugh and say, “I will need your autograph" or something like that.
These two sample closes are just a couple of many closing questions that can be asked in a situation where the location confirms the fact that they want your vending company to provide their employees with a professional refreshment program.
This, however, is the single most important sales closing tool of all time, bar none. Every time you ask a closing question the next thing you must do it DON'T SAY ANOTHER WORD until the customers speaks. If you want to close more sales, then please follow this rule every time you ask a closing question. You can take it to the bank. It works every time.
There is an old saying that is so true “silence is golden.” There is no form of pressure in this world greater than silence. The longer the silence after your close, the greater the pressure for the customer to make a decision. Unfortunately, a great many times I have been on sales calls with vending company sales people, the silence also gets to the them and after a few seconds, they open their mouth and say something like “oh did I tell you about this” and all of the pressure of making a buying decision is removed from the customer.
In my opinion the greatest sales trainer in history is J. Douglas Edwards (who passed away several years ago) and who tells the story of how, when he was working as a sales trainer for a major insurance company in New York City. The president of the company came into the room and heard Edwards telling the sales people about this practice of not saying a word after they asked a closing question.
He then shares that a few days later the president of the company came into the training room and asked if he could share a story with the class. The president explained that the company was looking into purchasing a million dollar computer system and a sales person had called on him from a leading computer company with a presentation. The sales person made his presentation, and then asked a closing question. The president decided not to say a word and there was total silence in the room for twenty minutes. That must have seemed like an eternity.
Then the president told the class the the company purchased the computer system that day. And that sales person got a million dollar order by remembering that silence is golden.
One common denominator that I have observed in virtually 100 percent of top notch professional sales closers is that they all have guts, determination and persistence. If you want to close more vending location sales than you ever thought possible, you must have the intestinal fortitude (guts) to ask the customer for the order with out fear.
About the author: Gary Joyner started in the vending business in Orlando in 1994. Since then he has owned, operated and sold three vending companies in Florida. Joyner is currently the factory authorized distributor for Federal Machine Corp. in the state of Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].