I've been writing about closing techniques this entire year so far, from Closing the Sale (CB, Jan. 2007, pg. 96) to The Paper Towel Close for Salespeople (CB, Feb. 2007, pg. 74), and most recently, The Proposal Close (CB, Mar. 2007, pg. 100). What happens, though, on the rare occasion where a prospect trips you up during one of these closing techniques?

Have you ever had that "deer in the headlights" look and been at a loss for words after you've received an objection from a prospect?

Sometimes all you need is a little time to regroup. Here are four fallback techniques that should buy you some time while you think of something intelligent to say that will help you recover the close.

Question the Objection
When you question the objection, you're just repeating the objection back to the prospect in the form of a question.

There's no objection that can't be repeated back in the form of a question.

Some examples:
• "You're price is too high." — My price is too high?
• "I want to think it over." — You want to think it over?
• "I want to get other bids." — You want to get other bids?
• "I want to hold off on it for now." — You want to hold off on it for now?

A salesperson's two best friends are questions and silence; and this technique has them both. The key to this technique is the silence that follows the question. During that silence, one of three things will occur:
1. The prospects will talk themselves into buying
2. The prospects won't completely talk themselves into buying, but if you listen, they'll tell you what needs to be said or done on your part in order for them to buy from you
3. The whole technique falls flat and doesn't work, which is why you need more than one technique. This occurs on the rare occasion when the prospects' response is, "Yeah, your price is too high," while they just glare at you with their jaw jutting out. There's not much to work with in this situation, so you move on to the next technique.

A lot of sales techniques can be used in your daily life, and question the objection is one of them. Try these on for size:
• "I don't want to do my homework." — You don't want to do your homework?
• "I'll come home when I feel like it." — You'll come home when you feel like it?
• "That's none of your business." — That's none of my business?

Remember, the key is not the question; it's the silence after the question.

The Reversal
This technique consists of responding to the prospect's objection with the question, "Isn't that exactly why you should do this now?"

For example, say the prospects know they need a new system, but when you recommend it, they respond that they'd love to do it right now, but they're too strapped for cash.

You respond by asking, "Isn't that exactly why you should do it right now?"

The reasons why the prospects should do it now are:
• If they repair it, they're wasting the money they're spending on the repairs, further diminishing their financial condition
• They're over-spending on their utilities, which worsens their finances even more
• Sooner or later, they're absolutely going to have to buy a new system. When they do, it will be at an inflated price, consequently deteriorating their financial picture all the more
• They can finance a new system, often for no money down and no payments or interest for up to one year. On the other hand, when they repair their old system, even if they charge the repair to a credit card, the longest they have to pay for it without paying interest is one month.

Part of the fun in using the reversal is that, the more outrageous it is for you to use it, the more likely your prospects are to come up with the reason for you.

For instance, when I recommended a service agreement to a gentleman, he responded by saying, "I really appreciate the information, and I can see what you're saying, but I won't need a service agreement here because I'm selling the home."

Without thinking, I responded with, "Isn't that exactly why you should buy one?" Then I started mentally beating myself up, thinking, Now you've done it! You've really put your foot in your mouth this time! Think man, think! Why should a guy buy a service agreement because he's selling his house?

The prospect looked at me kind of oddly and says, "Why? Because it would provide documentation to a potential buyer that the equipment has been kept maintained and is in good operating condition at this time?"

I'm there. "Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Feel/Felt/Found
The feel/felt/found always starts the exact same way. It goes like this: "I understand how you feel. A lot of people have felt the same way. What they have found is . . ."

Some examples:
• "I want to get other bids."
— I understand how you feel. A lot of people have felt the same way. What they have found is that, after spending hours visiting with other contractors and learning what they have to offer, having me do this for them was their best choice and they wished they'd made the decision sooner and saved themselves the time.

• "I want to wait on replacing my equipment; I'm broke."
— I understand how you feel. A lot of people have felt the same way. What they have found is that, when they took the overpayment of utilities and inflation into account, they were paying for a new system anyway. They just weren't getting all the benefits of it.

The Right Angle Close
If a prospect is going to say something odd or insane to you, it will usually be said at one of two possible places — as soon as you walk through the door, or right after you present the price.

Say you're running a call and, right after you present the price, instead of giving you a straight yes or no, or making some kind of relevant comment or response, the prospect says one of the following:
• "You know, my son's in the business and he only lives about 35 minutes away."
• "I used to be a buyer at the hospital."
• "I happen to be the secretary of our homeowners' association."

The normal, natural response to these non sequiturs may be along the line of, "So, what has that got to do with anything?" However, smarting off to people isn't much help when trying to close sales.

What you need to do is bring everything back on topic with a simple, direct, closing question of your own, such as:
• So then, you want it?
• Would you like me to get started?
• Do you want me to go ahead with it then?

This technique won't necessarily close the deal immediately, the way the other three could. This right angle close technique is the rough equivalent of saying, "Just the facts, ma'am," and directs the conversation back to the business at hand.

Charlie Greer is a sales trainer and the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," the video series that teaches techs how to increase their sales and be more productive contributors to their companies. For information on Charlie's speaking schedule or to request a catalog of his products and services, call 800/963-HVAC (4822) or go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Email Charlie at charlie@ charliegreer.com.