Combating the Closing Techniques - The Assumptive Close

Combating the Closing Techniques is a new series at Eliminate the Muda! This series explores the tactics companies and salespeople use to separate us from our cash. For background, you may want to read the post that originated this concept, Marketing or Manipulation, featured on Financial Samurai.

money, sales, saving, closing techniques, assumptive closeThe title of this closing technique is extremely descriptive of the approach. A salesperson assumes that you are going to buy. The success of this technique however is dependent on the quality of its execution.

A good salesperson can read a customer and identify those that are comfortable in the environment and those that are in a defensive state. This close only works well when we are relaxed. If rapport has been established this close is approached nonchalantly and works very well if set up correctly.

The Set-Up

The “set up” is straightforward, in involves a salesperson providing all the information about the product or service up front. They try their best to provide answers to any questions before the questions are asked.

This post was featured in the Economy and your Finances Carnival at One Mint. Please check it out for other great articles on personal finance.

Through the process a salesperson may take advantage of unintentional clues that you provide. If you smile when they talk about how environmentally friendly the product is, they ask “do you feel good buying products that are eco-friendly?” When you nod your head at their descriptions of their products ability to make your life easier, they may inquire “Does having more free time sound good to you?” Maybe you lean slightly forward to look at a brochure as the salesperson describes the timeless styling. She may then question if you could see yourself using the product.

Each time a salesperson strategically elicits a confirmation out of you, each time you say yes, they look upon this event as a “trial close.” The more you say yes to the smaller questions the closer they believe they are to moving you toward a commitment to purchase.

The Assumption

Once a salesperson has confirmed several positive trial closes and presented the features and benefits the assumptive close begins. It is really quite simple.

The salesperson will pull out the buyers order or sales forms and begin filling them out. Even if they already know how to spell your name they may confirm the spelling again. If you don’t stop them, another trial close is confirmed. They will continue filling out all the necessary information to complete the sale.

At the end of the form, when all data is entered, a good salesperson will simply turn the documents to you, put a big X next to the signature line and hold the pen out for you to take it. A significant portion of relaxed buyers will follow this lead, take the pen and sign the form.

Fighting Back

In any sales process there are fundamentally only two types of consumers; those that had no intention to buy and those that do.

If you had no intention to buy why are giving the salesperson the time of day? Walk away.

If you do want to buy, you also want to get the most for your money. Make the salesperson understand from the beginning that they will need to earn your business by giving them as little information as possible. A salesperson is not and never will be your friend first, be polite, be respectful but there is no need to build a relationship, this is business.

Don’t be antagonistic; a good salesperson will use defensiveness against you. Think of buying like playing a game of poker; do not give away your hand. Leave them in the dark and make let them throw all their cards on the table leaving you with the advantage. If  you don’t nod or agree to impertinent comments they have no reason to think you are ready to buy. This will cause them to keep working harder to earn your business.

Use the Assumptive Close to Your Benefit

Especially when it comes to big purchases and commonly negotiated products or services such as real estate and cars the facts and figures that go on the contract are not rigid.

You could use this close to your advantage. Give the salesman his trial closes, not and say yes and let him believe you will buy. At the end when the real close comes, pick up the form, use a clipboard or book as a writing surface and hold the document up so the salesperson cannot see it. Engage them in some idle conversation about how their company will support you after the sale or some other topic. During this idle time change the terms documented. Cross out the selling price and enter your own. Eliminate the list of fees and charges of miscellaneous processes, but don’t sign.

Express how as you look at this quote it seems a little steep, ask if there is room to drop the price a little. Your definition of little and hers may be different but that is OK, the salesperson will believe so much that you are ready to sign they will probably agree thinking they will not a few dollars off.

Then take a minute to tell the salesperson a story about how angry you get at being nickeled and dimed with extra fees. Ask them if they can understand why and if it might be possible, “in the interest of making an easy sale” to eliminate these fees. Likely their response will include a promise to talk to their manager.

At this point you turn the documents back and say. Here is my final offer, take it or leave it. The key to your success is doing your research up front. You must have knowledge of pricing and margins for the product before you walk in. If your price is unreasonable they cannot sell the product. If it is reasonable you must be prepared to walk if they won’t play.

For more, read: Combat the Closing Technique – The Puppy Dog Close
Combat the Closing Technique – The Power of Suggestion

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photo by chrismear

14 comments to Combating the Closing Techniques – The Assumptive Close

  • Very nice! Here in France, there often seems to be an ‘art’ to schmoozing about a topic and sales. I think that it leads to even more possibility of ‘manipulation’ by salesmen–but perhaps it’s just my cultural perspective. Still, I’m not buying the friendship or small talk of the salesman, I’m buying the product . . .

    Anyway, great article. Very enjoyable and useful. Perhaps someday I’ll use this technique.
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..6 ways to keep a job you hate from ruining your life! =-.

  • Very nice. If you define your goals and objectives ahead of time, it will be easier to finish these types of negotiations. Still, the clever part of this is when you sell the sales person on an easy sale. You don’t have to do a trial close to know they want your business. Convincing them to use your terms is easier when you frame it as being in their best interest.

  • This is a great idea. Another idea is something I like to call, “stick it to the man”.

    With this, I sit down and do the assumptive close on THEM. I ask them, “What do I have to do to put me in that car today?” When they give me a price (after their shock wears out) I just smile and laugh. Then, I say, ” let’s be know my manager will never agree to that”

    It’s fun. I rarely buy a car from a lot anyway but it is fun.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @ Simple in France – “schmoozing” is a good work and a common approach in the states as well. This is an ongoing series so I am sure I will touch on some techniques that you see in France too!

    @ Aaron – Great points, thank you for contributing. Imagine how excited a salesman would be if they thought your satisfaction would result in word of mouth advertising to your “2 friends that are interested as well.”

    @ Neal – I love it! Stick it to the man! – It would never work in my house, my manager wife is in major want of a new car.

  • Love it – it almost makes me wish I actually spent more money, so I could have more fun *not* spending more money. I buy almost everything I do buy online, and it’s hard to reverse-schmooze a bot! 😉

    Perhaps I should follow Neal’s example and have some fun without opening my wallet.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @ Monevator – You don’t have to spend to have fun. Just act like it. Go to an appliance store and put the salesman through his paces. When it comes time to sign just walk away. Hey, sounds like the making of a new hobby.

  • Thanks Coach! This post was nicely structured to show how a sales technique works. I have nothing against someone making a living through sales, we all have a job to do, but it’s great to develop a better understanding of my part of the game. It doesn’t mean he wont make a sale, or that I don’t want to buy, it just evens up the playing field a bit, so the game is more fun for the participants.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Eco-Fraud Friday: How Green Is Your Sex Life? =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @ Tracy – Valid point, everyone does deserve to make a living and as a die hard capitalist I want every company to make a profit. We should also all pay taxes, but that doesn’t mean we should pay more than absolutely necessary! Have a ball with your next opportunity!

  • I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.

  • bob

    How would you like people to come to your work place and waste your time? seriously?

  • bob

    oh and also I have been selling cars for 25 years, I sleep well at night and have never ripped anyone off.. nothing wrong with a little profit. Im sure you get paid to go to work.. Also the tips you are giving people are so 1985.. I could close you on a deal as easy as taking candy from a baby..

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