4 things I learnt from the squeegee guy

There’s a guy who cleans car windscreens near where I live. You know the sort of person. They jump out when the traffic lights turn red and walk up to your car with a dodgy smile a squeegee and a bottle of water. I’m sure you’ve seen these sorts of fellows around. Photo Squeegee

I have often watched how hard he has to work to get a sale. I have no idea what his daily plan is or how much sales training he has undertaken in the past. It’s certainly not my place to judge him. I can only comment on what I observe.

We can all learn a little about the magic art of closing the sale from the squeegee guy. Imagine for a moment how many No’s he has to receive before he gets a Yes or a sale. If you studied him closely and measured his results I’d guess that for probably every 50 No’s he receives, he gets 1 sale.

People, including myself use every trick in the book to avoid even making eye contact with him. He knows that if he doesn’t ask for the business he will be going home hungry. To survive in the squeegee game you must build up enormous resilience.

What any sales professional can learn from the squeegee guy is;

  1. You need to have the courage to  ask for the sale
  2. A No is normally better than a maybe (saves you valuable selling time)
  3. Never take it personally when someone rejects your offer (I’ve never seen him cry, ever)
  4. Know whom to target. Don’t waste your time with poor prospects

Every day we are all exposed to people selling to us. Most people don’t really enjoy being sold to aggressively. On the flip side, people do like to buy, when they are ready. Not always when you want them to.

Speaking of the right time, a few weeks ago I found myself sitting in a presentation at a school in the western suburbs of Melbourne. The sales professional, who was an excellent presenter, was presenting the results of a very successful trial to a group of teachers. They were all nodding their heads and saying wow this product is great. We love it. It’s been really useful.

I’m thinking that surely the sales professional will close the sale now. But no, they didn’t. They continued to push on. Doing everything other than ask for the business.  I’m thinking, come on. Ask them if they’d like to order it! They really want to buy it. They love it. They couldn’t be keener. Even with all the buying signals I was witnessing the sales professional still avoid asking for the order. I was witnessing what I term a classic case of closing avoidance.

Closing avoidance techniques include:

  • When confronted with strong buying signals not asking if the prospect wants to sign up
  • Encouraging the prospect to keep thinking about it when they are  ready to purchase
  • Providing  the prospect with more information when they don’t want or request it

When is the right time to close the sale? 

Most people get themselves in a mess when it comes to closing the sale. This is mainly caused by a fear of rejection or a fear of failure. Think about it for a moment. If you ask someone if they would like to sign up and they said no, you might feel that you have failed. Inexperienced sales professionals get around this by using closing avoidance techniques. In the short term this may appear to be a good idea. You might lull yourself into believing your results will be better than they actually will be. In the long term, closing avoidance rarely helps.

If you find you aren’t hearing No enough it probably means you are avoiding asking for the business. Overcome this obstacle and you should notice a nice improvement in your results.

When is the right time to close the sale?

Having worked in sales for over 35 years I look for these 6 things.

  1. You understand what the prospect needs, why they need it and what problem it will solve
  2. You are receiving buying signals – head nods, questions re payment or availability options
  3. You have surfaced and handled their objections
  4. You have met with the people  funding the purchase and discussed payment options
  5. You have provided proof of your  product or services credibility
  6. Your instinct tells you that they are ready to buy

How should you close the sale?

There are a range of options available to you. All of these can be learnt.  Here’s a few of the classics:

  • Assumed Close:  “Just leave it with me. I’ll look after everything from here and will send you an invoice later today”. It’s a confident statement delivered at the right time and matched with appropriate body language.
  • Alternative Close: “Would you prefer to get started this month or next month?” Only provide 2 options. More than 2 can lead to confusion for the buyer. The 2 options you have provided should be based on the needs of the prospect.
  • Ask: “Would you like to go ahead and purchase that today?”
  • Trial close: “If you were going to go ahead and buy today, what would you need to see from me to give you the confidence to proceed?”

If you really want to sharpen up the way you close the sale you could become a squeegee person for a week.  To survive you’ll quickly master the art of closing. You’ll ask a lot of people if they’d like their windows washed. You’ll hear a lot of No’s and see a lot of heads shaking. Don’t take it personally. Each time you receive a No, you are really 1 step closer to your next sale.

Posted in Sales, Leadership; Tagged Leadership; Comments 2 ; Posted by Steve Herzberg

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  • Nick Bell 23/07/2015 12:57am (9 years ago)

    Great article Steve. I hope you don't mind if I share the web link with my sales team!

  • Greg Ferrett 14/07/2015 1:28pm (9 years ago)

    Hi Steve

    Love your article and the comparison to the squeegee guy.
    Two things;
    1. The squeegee guy I see assumes the close and cleans all the windshields he can at the change of a light unless the person says 'NO'. He increases his close rate by delivering first (low cost of sale) and then most people will pay something.
    2. Asking for the order with a yes/no question, without knowing the answer in advance, can be dangerous. I prefer to use words like (after a trial close) "OK - lets make this happen." and then move on to the paperwork or whatever was agreed. Perhaps I just love the assumptive close.

    Keep up the good work!

    And, yes, I am not a robot.

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