Monday, August 19, 2013

Employing the Alternate Close

Understanding and using closing technique is a critical tool at your disposal during the interview process. That’s assuming you want to take part in the process and are not merely going along for the ride, or simply nodding in agreement when you think it’s appropriate. If you want to take charge of your life and where you’re going, you should be taking charge of and asserting yourself – that makes sense doesn’t it?

On July fourth of this year, I posted a blog that  begins to explain what a Close is and its purpose. In basic terms, it is the way one asks for and gets decisions. And, along the way during the interview, you can use closing technique to gauge the situation as it progresses. At the time, I referred to the Assumptive Close as one of the most basic examples. How and when you utilize a close(s) can substantially influence one’s own fortunes and is, in fact, applicable to many facets of life; everything from negotiating the price of something to asking someone out on a date and, of course, interviewing. But I don’t want to get bogged down in the finer points, if you don’t already know the basics of how and why the rest doesn’t much matter.  

For example: when you’re seeking a decision about something, in this case setting a meeting time with someone, what do most people say? They will ask, “Do you have time..?” or, “When will you have time…?” Formulating a question this way, by asking someone you’ve just met, will more often get you a reflexively negative answer of “No, I don’t have time” or “No, I can’t meet”.  I suggest you’re asking the right question, just the wrong way. Instead, ask like this, “Do you have time to meet on Tuesday or is Thursday better for you?” This is an alternate close; literally you’re providing two (or more) alternatives to choose from, both of which can deliver a favorable outcome; either way is a win. The answer, no, doesn’t as easily enter into the equation. The logical follow up question is, “How does your calendar look?” 

Utilizing closing technique is what every salesperson learns, but few ever master and, delivered in an honest and friendly manner, one isn’t even conscious it is happening. Sadly, there is always someone who occasionally whines, “But you’re manipulating people.” No, it’s developing and employing interpersonal communication skills, something that many hiring managers would agree has been devolving as a result of the digital age. So mastering communications skills clearly can help to set yourself apart from others. Furthermore, utilizing this Close and others has an unintended but beneficial effect of exuding and projecting confidence, which is another trait employers want to see. While these single methods by themselves will not guarantee you success, just the manner in which you are formulating the questions makes a difference and increases your chances. There are a lot of small improvements you can apply to your job search and interviewing efforts, which combined, exponentially improve your chances. 

What I am describing is something we already experience almost every day whether we realize it or not. Don’t think so? Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase a time or two “And can I get you a soup or salad with your meal?” Note that a suggestion has been made, you’ve been given a choice and as a result are more likely to pick one or the other. Or, you may hear a question like, “Would you like something else?” This delivery is more likely to elicit a no. Small differences can produce a different and better result. (By the way, the first of the two questions I demonstrated is also an example of suggestive selling, which most everyone in the service sector learns, but that is unrelated and a whole other topic.)

It’s not what we say but how we say it that gains a different result. I recognize some people are reluctant to try new things, even minor adjustments. But if you’re not realizing much success with your current efforts and, yet, you don’t want to try anything different or new, then you can’t be disappointed with continuing to get more of the same non-results.

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