Have You Earned the Right to Close?

Have You Earned the Right to Close?

There are a lot of great movies that have been written about selling. In fact, Amazon lists the topten sales movies when you search the site, and, unfortunately, none of them present the sales profession is a very favorable light. Movies like Boiler RoomUsed CarsTommy BoyWall StreetTin Men and even The Godfather come to my mind when I do a quick scan. Yes, The Godfather! Who can forget the memorable sales pitch from the movie, “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

I still love sales movies, even though they stereotype my profession in an almost cartoonish way. There is one that really captures my vocation like no other and I have watched it so many times I can immediately quote many of the lines.

Once a year, I sit with a large bowl of popcorn and watch the movie version of the Broadway play, Glengarry Glen Ross. It is full of rich sales dialogue sprinkled with numerous expletives deleted and immortal sales phrases like, “Coffee is for closers, only,” and “A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.” As an aside, if you are a business owner or sales manager and conduct regular sales meetings, pay close attention to the sales meeting that Alec Baldwin’s character conducts at about the midpoint of the movie.

Speaking of closing, we are a single-minded army of salespeople with the following thought on our mind: Close the prospect! It’s our mantra and our driving directive. We pursue it doggedly and judge all our successes by our ability in this key area.

There have been thousands of books written about the tactics we should use to accomplish this. In the 60’s, a well-known training company coined the phrase, “If I could show you a way….” That was followed by the impending event close, “If you buy before Friday, I’ll throw in a free toaster.” And who can forget the famous insurance industry close as they slide the contract toward you, “Press hard there are 3 copies underneath.”

I often wonder if anyone ever asked a prospect how they feel when salespeople try to trap them into buying with a cluster of canned approaches. Do they feel violated and recognize that they are a footnote in a sales success journal? I have a developed a theory that each prospect knows how he or she should be closed. When a pushy sales type tries to close without understanding their buying process, the prospect is smart enough to make the “close” contingent on the lowest price. Salespeople need to earn the right to close a prospect. We earn this right when the prospect has a high degree of confidence in the salesperson, is aware of their current situation and has enough knowledge to make an intelligent buying decision.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you begin your closing “dance”:

  • Do I thoroughly understand this prospect’s problem?
  • Does the prospect understand the consequences of not fixing this problem?
  • Did the prospect get the sense that I understood their business?
  • Does the prospect see me as an expert in my field?
  • Is the prospect totally comfortable with me?
  • Does the prospect have confidence in me?
  • Does the prospect really need what I sell?
  • Does the prospect understand the ways my product or service will help them?
  • Can the prospect afford what I sell?
  • Do I understand how the prospect will make will make a decision?
  • Does the prospect know enough to make a buying decision?
  • Is the prospect willing and able to invest in my product or service?

By asking these 12 questions after each sales call, a salesperson can predict with some degree of confidence, whether they stand a chance to close this sale or not. I personally use these 12 questions as a strategic roadmap to prepare for each sales call, recognizing that I must be confident in each answer while I’m involved in the sales call.

Too many times either the buyer or seller tries to dominate a selling situation, creating an imbalance that can only be solved with price concessions. Both the buyer and seller play equally important roles in the closing of any sale. They need to work as a team, gathering critical information necessary for a successful decision.

Illustration by Rob Green