Death of The Sales Close

While observing a client company run a “Closing Skills” workshop of theirs, the following Close attempts were overheard:

“Can we agree…”

man-875702_1280“Would you agree…”

“Is there anything holding you back from using my product…”

“Can you see how…”

“Since they’ve had such success, would you commit to…”

“Based on our conversation, I’d recommend that you…”

“Now that you’ve had success, I’d recommend that you…Does that sound right to you?”

“Do you feel the product meets everything we discussed? Is there anything missing?”

“I have one recommendation…”

“Does that sound like you’d want to use (my product)? Does that make sense?”

“Would you admit there’s an opportunity to…”

“With that said–over the next week–how many can you try?”

“Can you see that by following our information, we deliver a…”

If I put myself in the shoes of the customers who would be hearing these Closes…I have to admit—I wouldn’t like it. I think the overall idea that someone would be getting me to “agree”—or acquiesce—to what they want me to do…would be problematic. Maybe I’m too independent…place too much value in the conviction and wisdom of my own thoughts/ideas/solutions…or, perhaps I simply don’t like the idea of feeling that I surrendered to the other person’s solution (or had to “admit” they were right). Maybe I need to talk to a professional about this…

“Perhaps the seller should not do all the heavy-lifting…”

But—maybe there’s something here to really think about: Maybe the time has come to re-examine—if not kill—the traditional Close. The Close in which the seller identifies a path forward, and seeks to gain a “tangible commitment” from the buyer. Conventional Wisdom has held—and traditional sales training has supported—that the seller is somehow best suited for ensuring that some form of a commitment to an action on the part of the buyer is achieved. Thus, it is usually the seller who proposes a given solution, and seeks to get the buyer to agree/commit to it.

Perhaps the seller should not do all the heavy-lifting during the Close. There seem to be a few compelling downsides to the seller coming up with the Close’s solution:

  • Buyer has no “ownership” in the solution, and may not feel as compelled to implement it (there is research indicating that when a person is involved in making a decision, they are 5X more likely to carry it out!)
  • Seller gets what s/he wanted, but how about the buyer?
  • Buyer can feel tempted to agree—just to hurry the call along
  • The quality of the solution is potentially less because only one person has generated the idea (no collaboration)
  • Changing behavior is not simply a rational undertaking: when buyer “agrees” to seller’s (likely) rational Close suggestion—this process may miss any uncovering of the buyer’s emotional connection—or beliefs—related to the idea of this proposed change. An emotional commitment to change must usually be present in order for actual behavior to change.
  • Using this approach delivers a sales experience that is just like all the other sales calls the buyer has likely participated in: no differentiation!

Ultimately, there is greater opportunity for sales professionals to collaborate with customers on what “next steps” might be possible at the end of a sales call. By having ownership in the development of the action item, the buyer will be more likely to carry through with the action. In this approach, the role of the seller is more focused on facilitating dialogue and process—and less on “convincing” the buyer to agree. All mourn the death of the old-school, one-way Close…It’s time to give Sales Professionals some new tools to produce more effective and more collaborative Closes!