I thought that by now most salespeople get it. The old closing techniques you can find in sales books published decades ago do not work anymore. But, no, just Google “closing techniques” and you find many websites still promoting The Assumptive Close, The Backwards Close, The Alternative Close, The Now or Never Close, and yes, even the Puppy Dog Close!
So, why do sales execs still use them? Well, first of all, because they were trained to do so and second, sometimes they do work; In particular in transactional sales situations where the seller assumes that the customer wants to go ahead, and needs a little push to make a decision. In such sales situations, buyers are sometimes emotionally influenced by such techniques. However, the more complex the business situation is, the less likely the buyer will respond positively to that sales behavior. In fact, these closes are counter-productive. They will actually hurt your chances of closing the sale.
And it is not only the Buyer who feels that these types of closes are rude, out of context and inappropriate. Most salespeople are uncomfortable “nudging” the buyer.
In the new, modern way of selling you don’t want to “trick” the buyer, instead, your closing is more collaborative. And your closing doesn’t happen at the end of your process like a “now or never”. You are a lot more effective to get, throughout the sales process, many micro-commitments form the buyer to go to the next step. It doesn’t matter if that happens in one call, one meeting or several meetings spread over 60 days. You want to be on a journey together with your buyer on the way to a better world, a better set-up, a path that leads to a more successful outcome for their company. And for that journey to happen you need constantly “next steps” agreements, not because you are pushing, no, because it makes sense for your buyer to do so.
Need more practical guidance? I recommend you to read James Muir book, The Perfect Close. He actually acclaims you only need to remember two questions in that journey helping you and your buyer to stay on the right path to success, for both the buyer and seller. Two questions, now that is practical!
Here they are:
- “Does it make sense to X?” In this case, the “X” is a logical next step you have in mind, whatever that is in the conversation with the buyer
- “What would you say is a good next step then?” This question is used in case the first question is answered as a non-agreement.
You: “Mary, does it make sense for me to put a proposal together and talk through that in the next meeting?
Prospect: “Not at all. You’re way ahead of yourself here.”
You: “I see, what would you say is a good next step then?”
Prospect: “well, I think we should first involve some of our people in operations. Let’s see what they say. I suggest we schedule a meeting with Jim first”
You: “Absolutely, that makes sense. Let’s look at some dates together”
Micro-commitments do work. Put some scenarios together you recall from some recent meetings where you tried to close. Fair enough, it is not waterproof to work well in every situation however this type of “closing” makes a lot more sense than the old closing techniques. Now you are asking the buyer for a micro-commitment. Not a major decision. You are asking about the timing of possible action. All you want is going forward to a next step and in a collaborative way you leave it up to the buyer what makes sense, who is involved, and when. This works much better for both.
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