My personal sales philosophy (Effort + Curiosity + Ability to Make Connections = Kick Ass Sales.) is a great way to debunk "magical sales techniques" or quick fixes.
Like everyone, I am pulled in by headlines. It is crazy what kind of stuff I will read if it is in list form or is a "Top 10 Ways to..." article. There is something inherent about those titles that appeals to my GTD DNA (maybe it's because I know I can skim the list and only read the paragraphs that make sense to me...probably, it's my love of bullet points!).
I was reading an article on Inc.com today entitled "2 Little Words to Close More Sales" by Harvey Mackay -- I have to say that the only kind of article more appealing to me than a Top 10 is a Top 2. Above the fold, I could see the bullet list of what he calls tie-down questions: two word questions like "Wouldn't you?", "Aren't they?", etc.
I know this technique as the Momentum of Yes. This technique works under the assumption that it is easier for someone to say yes to your sales pitch if they have said yes to a bunch of your suppositions, sales points, observations about the weather, etc. throughout the sales call. Once you get them saying "YES," they will forget to say "NO"...or something like that.
Despite this nonsensical idea, there are 2 Kick Ass Sales Points Mr. Mackay makes:
1. Closing a sale has little to do with your canned, prepared sales presentation.
Closing has everything to do with engagement. How do you get someone engaged? You ask them questions. Curiosity is the ultimate way to pull someone into a conversation. Closed-ended questions like "You'd agree, wouldn't you?" do not accomplish that -- the only thing they "tie-down" is that you are trying to be psychologically manipulative. Being curious about if they agree with you and why they feel that way, on the other hand, forces you to ask questions they will have to think about. People love to share their opinions. Being curious about theirs means they'll love talking to you.. That's the definition of engagement.
As Mr. Mackay says you need to ask little questions along the way and listen to the feedback, not hit the play button on your sales pitch.
2. Big closes are for people that do not Kick Ass at Sales.
That's right. I said it. Big closes are for people that don't Kick Ass at Sales. If you have to send up your homerun hitter to knock it out of the park at the end of the sales call, it means everyone you've sent up to the plate so far has struck out. Don't play Steroids Era/American League/DH baseball. To win regularly, you need singles, doubles, walks, long at-bats. Being curious about why the person in front of you does't see value in your product isn't a big close, but it does get someone on base you can drive in later by explaining your value proposition to them in the terms they just shared their concerns with you.
I know I've got this baseball metaphor all convoluted, so let me simplify. Being curious allows you to sell to bite-sized objections, correct individual misconceptions, and understand the perspective of your potential customer, so that when it comes time to close the sale, they can actually decide yes or no.