Techniques for Closing the Sale

August 3, 2008

Q: Closing sales or service engagements sometimes takes longer than expected, even when we've had lengthy discussions with the client and everything seems to have been negotiated. What is the secret to having more success with the closing the event?
Steve H., V.P. of Sales, Oklahoma City, OK

A: Closing is rarely a straight and sure path. Buying is an emotional process and if you force the buyer into a yes or no decision before they are ready, the answer will likely be, no. Think of how you react when salespeople push you, so consider how an executive, who is being asked to yield executive power to a sales professional, feels, when pressed. The alternative to the yes or no decision is to test the sales process with presumptive questions.

I personally have always practiced presumptive selling. I firmly believe the prospect is going to buy from me and I continue that belief UNTIL the prospect convinces ME otherwise. My products and services have always been the best they can be and I didn’t have to make excuses for possible inferior results. Thus all my energy is placed into learning the prospects needs and presenting the solutions.

If you can’t get a definitive YES, you could ask presumptive questions instead of asking for the sale. You do this by asking for something that would be a part of the sale. For example, you might ask if the prospect would find it more useful for you to brief the board or coach him or her to do the final briefing at the end of the engagement. Or, ask if the sales training should include developing a series of online training sessions. Continue and develop this thought process into YOUR products or services and be prepared.

A yes answer to one of these questions is likely a yes answer to the engagement, but is much easier to make for the prospect. Once they have said yes to a critical part of the entire project (usually a high value part), they are on the path to saying yes to the whole engagement. That’s where your professionalism comes into the equation.

Remember, you MUST get a commitment, NO MATTER WHAT! Now a commitment according to old George Mancuso is, “AN AGREEMENT TO DO SOMETHING!” That something might be to set a date future to finalize; or the next appointment; or “if I do this then we have a deal;” or it might even be a commitment to never come back. Don’t leave without knowing the next step and it’s time frame.

It is imperative that you know your organizations AND your limits AND your capabilities AND your ability to perform. I always try to under promise and over deliver. That makes for happy customers and great referrals in the future.

As the last five months of 2008 is now in full bloom, I certainly hope you finish this year with gusto, tremendous personal success and the achievement of all of your goals.


George F. Mancuso, CPC