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The art and science of closing: how to close more sales right now

One of the questions I’m often asked as a sales coach by salespeople and business owners alike is, “How do I best close sales? What closing techniques would you recommend?”

In my experience, closing is one of the three most dreaded areas of the sales process. The other two are the fear of probing and the fear of objections. But the real question is, what is it about these three that creates so much fear? Especially when even some of the most successful sales professionals face challenges in one or more of these three areas. The answer is simple: fear of rejection. Human beings are social animals and fear of rejection is one of the main human drivers, so a different line of thinking is needed to deal with this problem. Mere techniques will not suffice.

There are books on closures with hundreds of different types of closures. Some are great examples, some are horrible, but they all have one thing in common. They are just examples. They often cannot be used as “out of the box” solutions for your sales scenarios because each one represents a model and that model only works if the person you are dealing with is “executing” a similar model in their personality and if their situation is almost the same too!

Now, I’m not saying don’t study sales. In fact, quite the opposite. I recommend that you read as much as you can about sales and human communications because you’ll learn more about sales and communications that way than virtually any other way. However, what you learn may not always be what the author intended, as he must be a student of human behavior and influence, not beholden to any particular book! When Bruce Lee studied Kung Fu, he took the best of each Kung Fu style and designed a new art that had no fixed forms and changed to be the most effective for each and every situation. A good sales professional will aim to achieve the same.

The first tactic to achieve a better close ration is to change the words you use. Why not “ask for the business” or “take the order” or “provide a solution” instead? These words do not create the same fear. I have tested this on dozens of vendors and removing the word associated with fear also removes the fear. If anyone has read Anthony Robbin’s material, describe how you can only experience feelings that you have words for and that words only have the meaning you attribute to them. He describes how, because the quality of the snow is important to their survival, the Eskimos have dozens of different words for snow, but we only have sleet and snow. Their snow experience is different from ours and we can’t understand that because we don’t have words to describe it.

Second, it is important that you begin with the end in mind. Every time you go to a meeting or make a call, think about it first in your head. Think about the outcome you want from the meeting or call and think about the possible ways this could happen. Also think about what is the minimum result that you are willing to accept from the meeting or call. Once you’ve built a relationship, asked questions, discovered your customers’ needs, and provided a solution, it’s natural to ask about the business. After all, you’ve provided a solution, so applying for the business is the next step! Why would you accept less than your minimum acceptable behavior from the customer?

I once worked with a talented sales professional. He made fantastic cold calls, built a graceful and effective relationship, and effortlessly discovered customer needs, but did little business. In a brief coaching session, I discovered that he decoupled the sales process from “closing”, thus “doing the meeting” and then thinking, “OMG! Now I need to close!” Panic sign. His clients could see it and the sale was lost, every time. He was in “selling” mode and they were resisting and he was a nice guy so it was easier to walk away than risk rejection or upsetting the customer! Simply by seeing the sale as a seamless process with a natural conclusion, he was able to see the “timeline” and “path” of the sale. If the client deviated from this, he could maintain control and get it back on track. He achieved a sales breakthrough literally overnight.

At this point, I might add that you need to remain flexible. There will be times when you cannot make the sale for unexpected reasons. On these occasions, it is important that you evaluate your performance objectively. Ask yourself if you could ask better questions next time to discover the unexpected situation sooner. If the answer is “no”, reset your goal for the meeting. If the answer is “yes,” consider what you need to learn and reset the goal for your next meeting. But, and this is very important, always remember to set a new goal for the meeting.

When was the last time you heard this conversation?:

“How was the sales meeting?”


“How did you get in?”.

“Oh great, I think he’ll use us!”

My next question to you is, “What’s the next step?”

This should have been agreed, with timescales, with the client. If not, you have not reached your goal. Maybe this was because he didn’t set one up or didn’t make it, but this sales meeting wasn’t “great”!

Let’s face it, you work hard to find clients and get that all-important meeting with them and listen carefully to understand their real needs, not their perceived ones. When you provide a solution that fits their needs, they expect you to “ask for business.” When this becomes a relaxed and natural part of the meeting, you’ll achieve more sales effortlessly.

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