THE CONCEPT OF ASAL

We have heard the saying Clothes make the man. But the truth is Good manners make the real man. Likewise, good manners make the real sales champions.

“I have upheld the highest level of ethics, professionalism and integrity in dealing with my clients,” Mr. David Loo proudly said before a forum of chosen salespeople.

“I have pursued this career in sales very, very professionally. I have never stolen anybody’s client… and I do not make any promises that I cannot keep,” he said further.

David is a Malaysian national who has established residence in the Philippines and is a consistent top producer in selling membership shares for the Subic Bay Yacht Club in the Philippines. His success story is no different from the rest of us who have struggled, stumbled, fallen and risen again to fight and win. When David hit his lowest, he bravely picked himself up from the fall, struggled again with renewed hope and strength, until success welcomed him at the top.

According to him, he has seen people who have achieved instant success. They usually get drowned by its spirit, causing them to “fall by the wayside and crash back to earth” in no time at all. These people never seem to get up again. Hence, David learned from experience and strove hard to manage his success with humility and propriety.

What is the significance of David’s story as far as his success in selling is concerned? It shows us that, aside from possessing the three basic qualities, namely self-confidence, competence and enthusiasm, there is something else that makes the real super sales champion. There are three other higher qualities that serve as his capping stones, so to speak. These are PROFESSIONALISM, ETIQUETTE and INTEGRITY.

Without these capping stones, like the majestic pyramids, he will not be complete. Without these three qualities, a salesperson will only be as good as long as his self-confidence, his competence and his enthusiasm last. But with integrity, etiquette and professionalism, success is lasting. These three build a kind of relationship that only good asal can establish.

“You will be judged by the kind of asal you project while interacting with your clients,” Dr. Jocano often reiterates.

If you maintain your good manners in dealing with your clients and your fellowmen in general, it is guaranteed your clients and your fellowmen in general, it is guaranteed that they will also treat you well. It is not the quality of your product that will make them do so, but the goodness you show them while interacting with them.

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THE CLOSING QUESTION

Closing is such an important tool that it needs reiteration and emphasis. As we have stated earlier, with a closed sale, the tinkling of the cash register is not far behind. But how do you close a sale?
In my 25 years in the selling profession, I have found out five major reasons why we fail to close a sale. First, it is matter of economics. We fail to qualify our prospect in the proper financial bracket. Second, our value perception is not keen. We fail to justify the value of our proposition. Third, we lack a sense of urgency. We fail to create an immediate need or want now. Fourth, we cannot handle objections, conditions and excuses well. We fail to rationalize the decision to say yes. Fifth, we do not know how to ask a closing question.
In the Bible, it says: Ask, and it shall be given. Keep on asking, and you keep on getting. It is a very simple process, and yet a majority of salespersons, whether veterans or beginners, sometimes fail to ask a closing question at the opportune time. As I always say in my seminars: “Closing is too basic to ignore, but it is a challenge even to the most experienced sales professional.”
I remember one of my trainees who had religiously been following the basic pointers of selling. He knows about prospecting, making contacts, qualifying clients, presenting his product, handling objections and closing. Yet, it was almost a month and he had never closed a single sale.
I had one-on-one session with him and I asked him, “How do you close a sale?” His immediate response was “Well, if they show interest.” I repeated the question: “How do you close a sale?” Since he was new then, I thought he just did not know how to answer the question properly. So, what I did was observe him as he made his presentation with one of his qualified prospects. His presentation with one of his qualified prospects. Hi presentation was good. But soon enough I discovered what was missing. He failed to ask for an order.
Try to remember how you ended a presentation when you were new. I am sure it is no different from this. After the presentation, the average salesperson will close this way: “Ma’am/sir, that’s it! What do you think of our product or service?” He probably thinks the customer will automatically say: ‘I will buy it!” But I bet that, 80-95% of the time, he will not get the sale.
Having observed a lot of failed transactions, I firmly believe that closing is not simply asking. It is asking a closing question. It is the most basic step in closing a sale.
Dr. Felipe Landa Jocano, our foremost Filipino anthropologist, calls it pagsangguni, or consultation. We call it the BASIC ORDER FORM CLOSE, in case you are using order forms, reservation/application forms or any written closing materials. For example, we say, “Sir/madam, would you like this under your name or your company’s name?” Or, “where would you like us to send your receipt and other relevant materials-your office or your residence?”
We in sales call this closing question the ALTERNATE OF CHOICE. Never ask a question that is answerable by yes or no. It must be a question wherein the answers are both affirmative. Remember, however, that it is not the same in all situations. As we commonly hear, we need different strokes for different folks. The basic premise is that if you persistently ask for the order, it shall be given, unless your client still has hidden objections, conditions and excuses. In our training, we address this by using our LASER approach, which is covered in another chapter. As long as you LISTEN to your client’s objection, condition or excuse, ACKKNOWLEDGE in with SINCERITY, EXPLORE the real reason or emotion behind it and RESPOND properly, you can handle any form of objection, condition or excuse that comes along.
As a reminder, never use the traditional approach in handling objections. “Yes, but…” also invites violent reactions. You say, “Yes, but…” e kung batukan ka kaya ng kliyente mo (what if your client hits you)? Remember to differentiate “Would you like to win an argument?” from “Do you want to win an argument?”
We cannot share with you in this book all the different techniques and strategies in closing a sale. But, in my second book, I will share with you 365 ways to close a sale in different situations and in different industries as shared by top-notch graduates and professional salespersons. Once it is published, it will be your reference. Every page will contain a success story on closing a sale against all odds. Watch out for it!
Let me relate to you instead the story of my indirect mentor, Mr. Tom Hopkins. Back in 1984, I brought him here in the Philippines to conduct his first public seminar in Asia entitled “How to Master the Art of Selling Anything.”
In his seminar, he narrated his humble beginnings. At the age of 17, he had what seemed to be at that time his first motivational talk with his parents. It resulted in his parents sending him to college to study law. But, after one semester, he quit. He told his parents. “College is not for me.” His parents told him, “You know, Tom, we have saved enough to send you to college to take up law and yet you quit. That’s your choice. Be assured that we will always love you. But, too bad, you will never amount to anything.”
That became his first and real motivational talk in his life. He left home and found a job with his uncle as a construction worker. After 18 months, he quit his job. When asked why, he said, “It’s real hard work! I carried steel bars for 18 months. I used to be 6 ½ feel tall, but after that my height diminished to 5 feet and 6 inches.” So, before he became a midget, he went to look for another job.
Just like any of us when we were young, he looked for greener pastures. He was attracted to an ad that said: EARN YOU FIRST MILLION IN REAL ESTATE. With so much enthusiasm, he joined the organization that placed the ad. But, after six months, he only sold one-to a relative. He concluded that, as a salesperson, he was relatively good-maybe because he had a good relative. As he was about to quit, he saw a gentleman stop near his office. He was impeccably dressed, and he drove a Jaguar. Tom was so impressed that he asked the gentleman, “What do you do for a living?” The gentleman said with pride, “I’m in sales, and this year I will be earning $50,000. How about you, young man?” “Well, I’m also in sales, but I have to quit because my average income is only $42/month.” After a short pause, he asked: “How did you do it?”
But this proved to be Tom Hopkins’s turning point in learning the art of closing. The man asked, “Have you heard of J. Douglas Edward?” Tom said, “No.” The man said, “He is the master trainer. He will teach you what to say, when to say it and how to ask a closing question-word per word. Why don’t you attend his seminar?”
Tom did attend the seminar. During his first hour with J. Douglas Edward, he found out how little he knew about closing a sale. But he made a commitment to JDE that he would replace him as the No. 1 sales trainer in the US after the seminar. True to his commitment, Tom Hopkins surpassed his trainer. In his book How to Master the Art of Selling, JDE wrote the introduction, endorsing Tom Hopkins as his replacement.
When Tom Hopkins learned the art of closing a sale word per word, he was able to close 365 houses and lots in 366 days. This won him the Sammy Award (for Sales and Marketing Excellence) by the National Association of Realtors.
But here is the best part of his story. He was invited again to the awarding ceremonies of NAR. This time around, he was to hand the Sammy Award to that year’s winner. The moment came. The emcee’s booming voice was head: “Ladies and gentlemen, fellow realtors, our Sammy awardee this year earned $50,000 last year.” There was silence. Then the audience started booing and shouting: “That’s chicken feed! I earned a million dollar last year.” Above the din of dissatisfaction, the emcee continued: “Wait! The announcement is not yet finished. This year’s Sammy awardee is a realtor like you, but he’s totally blind.” There was silence again. Then an astounding applause and a standing ovation followed. When Tom Hopkins handed the award, he asked the awardee, “How did you do it? How did you earn $50,000 with such a handicap?” The blind realtor said: “Being blind has several advantages. One, I have never seen any of the properties I have ever sold in my entire life; hence, there’s a degree of objectivity there. Two, in real estate selling, you have to do a lot of site inspection and tripping. I have saved a lot of my transportation allowance because, when my client does not like the property at the site, he can’t leave me. Because I’m blind, he has to bring me back to my office. And third, which is the most important advantage, I always see the property I’m selling through my buyer’s eyes.”
That blind Sammy awardee has a point there. Fellow salespersons, have we ever asked ourselves why sometimes we fail to close a sale? Try to reflect on this a moment. When asking the closing question, do we ever look in our buyer’s eyes and try to see through those eyes? Or, do we avoid them and simply listen to our client, with the cash register ringing in our ears? When he looks in our eyes, does he see the peso sign or the percentage sign? The truth is: The decision to say yes comes to your client at a point when he sees the word SERVICE, with I AM HERE TO SERVE YOU, alternately twinkling in your eyes.
Let us learn from the author OG Mandino: MISSION (service) first, before the COMMISSION. Not the other way around. If we go for the commission first, the kunsumisyon (exasperation) might follow.
Now that you know what it is all about, welcome to the delightful world of closing! May you be happy selling; may you be happier closing; and may you be happiest serving!

REJECTION WORDS

They can destroy all and every thing you have so painstakingly worked for. Just think of how different the work “price” is from the word “investment”? Or, the phrase “down payment” from “initial investment”? There is a marked difference, is there not?

Rejection words create FEAR. For example, are you not intimidated if you are told, “Sir, please sign the contract instead of “Sir, with your approval, I’ll have this agreement processed in no time at all”?

I repeat: rejection words create fear. They are things of the past. They are obsolete, history, passe. We must use GLAMOUR WORDS instead, because glamour words create desire aside from bestowing respect. Hence, janitors are now called sanitary engineers; messengers, now field clerks; air-con technicians, now climate engineers.

So, be careful with the words you use while you are at the closing stage of your selling. If you are not tactful, the oft quoted Kuwarta na, naging bato pa (Cold cash turned rubble) might happen to you!

THE BASIC TOOLS

Prospecting

This tool helps us identify who or what our target market is. Who should we approach with our product? Market segregation is easy because each market segment identifies itself. The medical segment has its hospitals and clinics, doctors and nurses, drugstores and medical offices. The academe has its bulk of educators from the highest officials down to the teaching line, and extending further down to the student populace. The business segment has its established organization, and the businesspeople in general are divided into varying income brackets, such as the ruling class, the lower-upper class, the upper-middle class, the middle-middle class, the lower-middle class, etc. So you see, the income ladder of possible clients can be conveniently identified. It is so easy to identify that Don So-and-so or Mr. So-and-so has this much money and that he can possibly be your client. but how do you get to know them in person? What are the various ways available in order for you to get to know them better? What is the next move?

Contact

It is the next most appropriate thing to do after market identification. Some people use the mail; some give out brochures; some utilize the telephone or the fax; some use the referral system. But there is no substitute for direct selling-face-to-face, so they say. Letters can be easily filed. The telephone can be easily put down. But your physical presence in your client’s place is another thing. He cannot make you leave just like that. Always remember: THERE IS NO IMPACT WITHOUT CONTACT.

Urgency should always be observed amid these situations when your prospective client is definitely identified. You need to contact him. Consider the possibility that your client is already willing to buy your product NOW. TODAY. Imagine that he is holding in his hands the cash or the check to pay you and that he is only waiting for you to go to him. Countless cases of disappointment and frustration have occurred because the salesperson, after identifying his prospective client, took his own sweet time calling on him. What happens is that, when he calls on the client the following day, he finds an entire encyclopedia set sitting on his shelf. Another sales agent visited his prospect on the day he decided to postpone his visit.

The same case happened to a cellular-phone salesperson. Just because his prospective client was his next-door neighbor, he called off his appointment with him twice. Imagine his remonstration when he approached the said prospect. He told him that he bought two cell phones two days ago, on a cash basis to boot.

Sales champions do not sit or sleep on opportunities. When they have prospects, they rush to them immediately! If the client is a total stranger, one of the most effective ways is through referrals.

“My name’s Jun Garing, Mr. Gerald Limsuan. You may not know me, sir, but we have a mutual friend, Mr. Pestaño.”

“Ah, yes. Please come in, Mr. Garing. I haven’t heard from him for sometime. How’s Danny?”

See? You are a complete stranger, but he allowed you into his house. The next move will be yours. You need to be sensitive in order to do it right.

Qualification

Once inside the house of your client, it is easier for you to make an assessment. Through your conversation, you will know if he is qualified or not. He may belong to the middle-upper class income group, but his overhead expenses are significantly too much and almost nothing is left in his pocket. You know that he will not qualify. But you can devise a scheme for him so that he can qualify in a certain bracket. Do you agree?

While you are at it, take advantage of the situation. In the course of your conversation with him, get to know his friends. Who knows, they can be the next prospective clients for your product?

Presentation of Sales Demonstration

This follows after thoroughly qualifying your client. But how do you make your presentation? Make it simple. Make it brief and clear. It must also be responsive to your client’s questions and line of interest. Satisfy his sense of sight through carefully chosen colorful brochures, photographs or other visual aids. Appeal to his sense of hearing. The tone of your voice should be light and easy on the ears. You do not need a beautiful voice, although sometimes it really helps. Any voice pitch will do as long as it is sincere and pleasant to hear.

According to Zig Ziglar, “No kind of technique [in selling] will work unless your clients know how much you care.”

If your product comes with sound or music tracks, let him hear them. It is different if he actually listens to it. Let his own ears be the judge. Exploit his sense of touch. This is an effective part of a sales presentation. Let your client touch a sample or prototype of the product he is selling.

From here, you can feel and conclude where your client has a cooperative response. Then, give the response more emphasis until you close the sale. You need expertise on how to choose which of the three your client is most responsive to. From there, you can proceed and close the sale after that. That is, if no objection surfaces. If something comes up, handling it is the next thing worth your time, expertise and attention.

Handling Objections

What are the usual objections of prospective clients? It is too expensive! I will buy later. Please leave your calling card. Please include a brochure. I will think about it. I need to ask my husband, my wife, my mother, my boss, etc.

The list objections of different people can be a mile long, but the bottom line of it all is simply the resistance to buy. It does not matter if the objections are valid or not. Even if your presentation is appealing and convincing, why does your client not commit? Maybe he does not have available cash, or he cannot decide for himself. So, he asks you to leave your calling card and the brochures.

But the card and the brochures cannot answer all the objections. In a situation like this one, it will be helpful for you to try ALTERNATE OF CHOICE METHOD to make your chances of coming back a hopeful one.

“Please lave your card, Mr. Gaba. I’ll consider your offer very well.”

“Thank you. I know you won’t ask for my card if you’re not interested.”

“I’m interested.”

“I’ll come back for it next week then?’

“Okay.”

“What day will it be? Monday? Tuesday?”

“Wednesday will be fine.”

“What’s a convenient time? Morning or afternoon?

“Why not in the afternoon?”

“Is three o’clock okay? Or, is it too early?”

“I think so. Five o’clock will be perfect.”

Perfect, indeed! You have come to an agreement to meet with each other again. Had you left earlier, what would have happened? Nothing. Matters would be indefinite. But now, you have a specific date and time when to return. It worked! Narrowing down the uncertainties by using the alternate of Choice Method eventually led you to a point where things have become clear and predictable. In the process, you subliminally stressed into your client’s subconscious that next week, on the specified date and time, he is obligated to let you inside his house and entertain you. That is. if he does not hide from you. Things of that sort happen once in a while

But watch out. Do not overdo or overuse this method. You might get a dose of your own medicine if you do not take care. Customers are shrewder these days. If  you do not get ahead of them, chances are, your method will boomerang on you.

This is my story. When my eldest was still a little girl, she did not enjoy taking a bath. So, I tried to utilize the Alternate of Choice Method on her.

“Olga, who will bathe you? Daddy or Mommy?

“I’ll settle with Daddy.”

“Will you take off your clothes or will Daddy?”

“I’ll do it.”

” Who will turn on the shower-Daddy or Olga?”

End of story? The bath was in progress, why should it not be? Well, the little girl grew up. As she did, she also grew up in various ways. She imbibed a lot of things, and she thought of trying out some of them. Take this one, for instance.

“Daddy, where will we have our snacks after school? Jollibee or McDo?”

“Daddy, it’s my birthday next week. How many gifts will you give me? Two or three?

It is not surprising that come things are that easy to learn. Sa mata ng bata, ang ginagawa ng matanda ay nagiging tama (In the eyes of a child, the ways of an adult are made right).

So, be careful lest your client, instead of you closing a deal with him, closes his door on you.

Closing

This is the most wonderful term in selling. It brings about the sound of gold, so to speak. It initially suggests that an understanding has been sealed between you and the client and that both of you have agreed on the merits and benefits of the product you are selling. Secondly, the fact that a friendship has also been established between you and the client renders the closing much warmer than a simple selling incident. But, until the order form has actually been signed, the deal is still a deal and the client has the option to change his mind about buying. There are last-minute factors that could alter every good intention.