The skill of closing – or asking for a center visit or a commitment to enrollment – is an uncomfortable skill for many directors to master. Because you know it is a critical skill for converting more prospects to enrollees, it is very tempting to dance around actually asking the right questions and still call it closing.
What is closing? Closing is really two things.
- Helping prospects make a good buying decision
- Getting your prospects to act on your recommendations.
If you are upholding your desired positioning of being the helpful, professional, knowledgeable resource, your prospects will turn to you for your expertise and help in this important buying decision. They want your recommendations. They want your invitations. But that is not enough and it is NOT closing. Closing is ASKING them to make a buying decision. If you do not ask for the visit or enrollment, you are NOT closing.
What is NOT closing?
1. Making a recommendation without asking for a commitment is NOT closing.
As nice as it may sound, a statement such as, “It looks as though Mike really does not want to leave the soft play area. I think he would really enjoy our center. We would love to have you join our center’s family. Why don’t you give it some thought and let me know,” is NOT closing. It’s a great recommendation, but you had an enrollment bird in hand that you let fly away to another center where the director who asked would get the enrollment.
You can turn this recommendation into a valid closing by asking a question like this…
“…I think he would really enjoy our center. Since he seems so comfortable, would you like to leave him for a free day today?” (This of course assumes you have the room and the policy of free days in your company.) When your prospect answers, “Yes,” you can then take her to your office to fill out necessary paperwork, and arrange a time to call her to tell her how Mike is doing. When she returns to pick him up is when you would ask her to enroll.
Or you could say…
“ … We would love to have you join our center’s family. Do you think you would like to do that?” When the prospect says, “Yes,” perhaps that is the time to ask if Mike would like to stay to enjoy some time with the class while you take her to your office to fill out the paperwork and collect the registration fee.
2. Extending an invitation to an upcoming event at the center is NOT closing for a scheduled center visit or the enrollment.
Is it a good idea to invite prospects to center events? Absolutely! Is this a question that asks for the visit or enrollment? No!
“We are having an open house next Thursday to give our parents a glimpse of what our summer program will be like. You are certainly invited to attend. Would you like to come and bring Samantha?”
This is NOT closing for the scheduled center tour or enrollment. Granted, they might enroll after they attend such an event, but this is not closing for the center visit at the time you originally had them on the phone. Nor would it pass if you extended this invitation during a center visit, but did not also ASK for the enrollment.
It would be a closing question if you said this…
“… You are certainly invited to attend. When you come in for a center visit, I will give you all the details for this upcoming event. Would it be better for you to stop by for your personal visit on Wednesday morning or is Thursday better for your schedule?”
During a center visit, this invitation could lead to actual closing questions by saying…
“…our summer program will be like. It would be an ideal first parent event for you and Samantha to attend once you have enrolled. Would you like to go ahead and give me your registration fee today, and then I’ll make sure you are on the list for those who receive a special invitation to this even, alright?”
Closing is asking a question the answer to which is a commitment for your goal achievement, which is either a center visit or an enrollment commitment. If you have not asked for this specifically, you are not yet really closing, and your conversion ratios will reflect it.
Here’s a little trick to help you remember to ask a closing question, not just to invite or recommend. Put five pennies in one pocket at the beginning of the day. Every time you talk to a parent or give a tour of your center and you REALLY ASK A CLOSING QUESTION, move one penny from that pocket to the pocket on the other side of your skirt or slacks. Be honest about this. Don’t move the penny unless you asked a question that will give you an answer directed at your goals of center visit or enrollment. When you have all five pennies moved over, give yourself a point on a chart. Then move the pennies to the other side the same way, always giving yourself a point for every five closing questions you ask correctly. Even if the prospect’s answer is not yet “Yes,” you still ASKED a closing question, so you get the point. Once you have ten points (for 50 closing questions), reward yourself! You deserve it.
No matter what your personal reward, the reward that will really make your center shine is that you will see your conversion ratios gradually getting better, your follow up calls reducing, and your enrollments climbing like a rocket!
Best wishes and happy marketing!