Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Always Be Closing (ABC)

For fans of the movies Glengarry Glen Ross and Boiler Room ABC means something special. It’s that hyped up rant from the ominous cheerleaderthe sales manager with a high-pressure quota. (Does “Coffee is for closers” or “Third place, you’re fired” ring a bell?)

Throughout your listings, you need to remember this mantra. Essentially, to close is to ask for commitment from the person with which you’re communicating. Whether that commitment is for a sale or for some other agreement, you need it to move the game forward. The ultimate close is the one where you ask for the order (or bid).

Closing via text—in your item description or in follow-up e-mails—is not much different than face-to-face closing. Your goal is to give the prospect a reason to get off the dime and do something. The same goes for your item description. For example, you might indicate that the winning bidder will get free shipping. You could also mention that volume buys get percentage discounts. In e-mail correspondence with prospects, you can try hard close lines, such as, “If you click Buy It Now, I can ship it today by 5 p.m.”

More subtle approaches are deemed soft closes, a la, “I’ll check the specs. If it has the turbo booster, will you buy it?” If they say “yes,” then you’ve gained an agreement or a verbal deal. Most people don’t go back on deals, so you’ll at least get a bid out of this person. You could also use language such as, “The bidding is heating up on this item, so make sure you note the time that the auction closes.” That’s really soft, but it gently prods the shopper toward a bidding action.

When you think about it, closing language should be everywhere in your descriptions and correspondences. Up-sells and cross-sells are a form of closing language (see the following section). Gaining agreement in e-mails nudges shoppers toward the cash register (or PayPal). Free shipping and guarantees are a form of closing.

Try out some closing strategies with your listings, and then track those that work best. You’ll notice that buyers need reasons to act, and they need encouragement. If you provide both, you’ll either help them move toward a purchase or you’ll at least weed out “lookie-loos” who weren’t serious about buying anyway.

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