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Sales - the alternative close

When I attended a sales training course many years ago, it was suggested to us that an excellent way of pushing the prospect towards placing his order was the "alternative close" - offering two options so that his decision moved away from whether or not to buy, and to which of two alternatives ro select.

That's an interesting thought and something I've born in mind over the years; I'm not thrilled at the idea of pushing a prospect, though there are times that doing so is a service to everyone, and I'm not thrilled at the idea of restricting the options to just two. Case in point this morning - an enquiry from a customer who's looking to train up a complete team. Although training the whole group at once would be very practical (from my view point) and cost effective (from his), the team has an ongoing support role which must be maintained while they're learning the new technology.

I can up with a whole wide range of options - should I simply offer to run two courses? Should I offer training at the weekend when the support role can be closed down? Should I suggest that the trainees attend two successive public courses, or that the majority have a private course and those who are left as office anchors attend the subsequenct public course? Should I suggest they come to our training centre where they'll spend less on each tiny group and the groups will be away from the office and not subject to interruption? To offer just two options in these circumstances seems to me like it would be almost insulting, but to offer every option would be confusing. In the end, I decided to email through my three best suggestions, with a note that I would welcome an email or call to tune the best option further or to explore other possibilities. It won't close the sale quicker, but it will help better ensure that the customer gets the most appropriate possible product.


(written 2005-05-23, updated 2006-06-05)

 
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The backtick operator in Python and Perl
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