In this process your Prospect is influenced by facts and reason and also by various sentiments. This necessarily involves a mental conflict. Your presentation and arguments have created a Desire, but the progress of this toward Resolve is checked by caution, perhaps doubt, and almost surely by the common tendency to procrastinate.
These are boulders in the bed of the stream, impeding, but not stopping, the flow of Desire. In the Closing stage of the sale your entire task consists in removing them. The instrument which you must employ for the purpose is Motive. Play incessantly upon the particular Motive which you believe to be most likely to stir your Prospect to the point of resolution. Make your argument pointed and restricted. If it be diffuse there is danger of your setting up fresh obstacles in place of those you remove.
Bear in mind that with the majority of persons "reasoning" resolves into seeking excuses for doing what they wish. Encourage this disposition by supplying reasons or excuses, or, better still, by stimulating your Prospect to think of them by the method of Suggestion.
In the play and counter-play of conflict-ing considerations, the balance is often turned by a feather-weight, but frequently the feather is dropped into the wrong scale.
Too often the salesman makes the mistake at this stage of returning to the Canvass- reviewing his presentation. If his work has been done rightly the desirability of the proposition is no longer in question. That the Prospect wants the policy may be taken for granted; otherwise you have no business at the Closing stage.
This is the stage of argument and the excitement of Associated Ideas. On the part of the salesman it calls for alert brain work, tact and finesse. And throughout he must maintain an Attitude of forceful self-possession. Many men will conduct a sale to this point in a masterful manner and then fall for lack of force or by reason of over-anxiety. The accumulated influence which you have acquired over your Prospect in the preceding stages must be maintained in this and enhanced.
Whilst the Close is the critical phase of the sale and the one in which the highest powers are exercised, it is unquestionable that salesmen are prone to magnify its difficulties. This gives rise to feelings of doubt and dread which, through the action of auto-suggestion, become habitual and seriously impair efficiency.
Closing is admittedly the most difficult process in a sale and, for that reason, the greatest pains should be devoted to acquir-ing skill in it. But, that it is by no means so formidable an accomplishment as it appears to be, may be adduced from the fact that so many men of ordinary calibre become proficient in it.
In this effort to attain expertness in Closing the salesman must be careful not to neglect the stages of the sale leading up to it. Indeed, the result of the final effort depends largely upon the manner in which the preceding processes of the sale have been conducted. The signature to the application should be the culminating act of a series of steps logically leading to it.
Good Closing, therefore, involves efficiency at every stage of the sale. A perfect closer may greatly curtail his opportunities by weakness in the Approach: he may nullify his advantage by a faulty Canvass.
Now we are assuming that your Canvass has excited genuine Desire. Your task is to convert that sentiment into Resolve.....
What is the condition of your Prospect's mind? He is inclined to take what you are offering to him. Under your stimulation he gave his Imagination rein until it carried him to Desire. But his arrival at that point brought him within sight of Decision and Action. The realization- often sudden- that he is at the end of the path, checks him and arouses his Caution. Desire is still there but its influence does not operate as smoothly as before. He begins to weigh the pros and cons.
His inclination is to go forward, just as the physical tendency of the stream is to flow past the rocks in the channel. If you should attempt to accelerate the flow of the river by violent pressure on the water from behind the result would be to break the surface into waves and to cause an overflowing of the banks. The effective way of achieving your object would be to remove the obstructions in the course of the stream. So with your Prospect. If at this stage you try to rush him, you will confuse his mind- cause it to become splashy and create mental backwater. You must remove the obstacles to its flow.
Maintain a constant and even pressure but do it in a quiet, earnest manner. Make positive and terse statements, accentuated by pauses. Repeat such points to your Canvass as you observed to be effective. Keep in step with your man by speaking deliberately. And don't talk too much.
Many salesmen ruin their cases by using the methods of the stockyards drover, with the result of stampeding their Prospects. Don't fall into the error of thinking that force necessitates physical manifestation. Loud and rapid speech, gesticulations and facial contortions are indicative of weakness. They are apt to disturb and confuse the Prospect.
At this critical point of the sale the agent who lacks courage and confidence is in danger of resorting to a false motive. Nine times in ten there is no cause for compromise but his own cowardice. The man who yields to temptation of this sort has the spirit of an auctioneer. He will never make a first-class salesman.
Don't offer a rebate, nor anything else but what the policy contract covers. Don't make any unusual conditions nor promise any special advantages. Don't make doubtful settlements nor deceive your man as to the obligation he is incurring. Make a clean sale or nothing. Better fail in an honest endeavor than succeed in a tricky transaction.
It is not quite correct to say that the development of Resolve in the mind of your Prospect is the end of your task. That requires Action for its completion- the physical response to the mental stimulus. You must obtain the signature, but there will seldom be any difficulty about that if real Resolve has been created. The mere request, especially if accompanied by the handing of a pen, will almost always accomplish your object.
Bear in mind that many a man will allow another to "make up his mind" for him- will, indeed, be relieved to have him do it. Frequently a close is in such state that the salesman needs only to make a decisive statement, such as: "Very well, Mr. Blank, then we will close this deal." On the other hand, the agent who waits for the Prospect to take the initiative may fail to secure the application.
Now you have closed your case, but you must not relax your vigilance and tact. Don't break the connection abruptly. Your Prospect has been excited to a degree of unusual mental activity. There will be a tendency toward reaction. You should endeavor to counteract this tendency. Make the arrangement for medical examination, tell your man when he may expect the policy and gradually direct his mind to indifferent matters. To illustrate:
"Very well, Mr. Blank. I'll see that the doctor is here promptly at two o'clock. He will not take more than twenty minutes of your time. Let me see. Today is Tuesday. It takes about a week ordinarily. You see, there is quite a little to be done between the examination and the delivery of a policy, etc., etc."
Your object is to help your Prospect's excitement to subdue without reaction-to break his mental fall, so to speak, so that, when you depart, his thoughts will easily leave the subject of your visit and revert to his business affairs. In this effort beware of getting back into the field of your Canvass. Your Prospect's mind has just been occupied by a conflict of thought which you have brought to the desired Conclusion. It is the easiest thing in the world by direct suggestion or the Association of Ideas to revive that mental disturbance and throw him back into the stage of Deliberation or even farther back.
The best protection of the life insurance agent against this tendency to reaction is found in securing a settlement as an immediate sequence to the signing of the application. This is the proper time for receiving payment and your Prospect should be disposed to make it at this time.
If you will remember that it is to the applicant's interest to give you a check with the application and if you will habituate yourself to the idea that it is the correct and ordinary thing for him to do, you will ask for it in an expectant and matter-of-fact manner which may be depended upon to gain his assent almost invariably.