3 Deal-Killing Mistakes Salespeople Make Everyday

by Jeff Shore

Closing comes down to one question: Who is the close for? If closing is for the salesperson or for the company, we can use all sorts of deception to land a sale.

But if closing is for the customer, the most important thing we can do is to make it an easy mental process.

The most effective way to do that is to get a customer to agree with herself. The message she sends to her own brain is by far the most effective closing technique on the planet.

Buying is a process, not a moment. Our customers are best served when they make a purchase decision through a series of agreements, rather than by our asking one epic power close at the very end of the process.

Focus on your motives. Is this for you, or for them?

When it comes to closing, the definition we will use from this point forward is as follows:

Closing is the process of gaining agreements throughout the sales conversation, culminating in a final agreement to purchase.

Check-up time. Park your ego outside, be honest and take some time to determine if your sales presentation suffers from any of these deal-killing strategies.

(NOTE: Ready to get started with your own Messenger bot? Check out our FREE Video Sales Training Series, 10 Closing Truths, to get our exclusive strategy that makes closing every sale an easy and natural process. Learn more here.)

1. Forcing your customer to take the lead

There is a very common question that gets asked in the sales world. And it drives customers up the flippin’ wall. The question? “How can I help you?”

The request sounds innocent enough — almost friendly. But think of the implications. We are asking the customer to take the lead and describe both the situation and the solution.

Nothing like saying to a customer, “You go first. I’d sure appreciate it if you would tell me how to do my job. It’ll make things so much easier on me.”

“How can I help you”? The question is about the salesperson more than it is about the customer. And if the customer can identify both the problem and the solution, what use is there for a salesperson?

Instead, open the conversation in a manner that takes you out of the picture entirely. Try these early discovery questions instead:

  • “What got you thinking it might be time to look for a new _______?”
  • “What’s not working for you now?”
  • “Why are you thinking about purchasing a _______?”

Get the customer to offer the problem. Then and only then should you move on to the solution.

(NOTE: Ready to get started with your own Messenger bot? Check out our FREE Video Sales Training Series, 10 Closing Truths, to get our exclusive strategy that makes closing every sale an easy and natural process. Learn more here.)

2. Talking about price and terms early in the conversation

People buy from the emotional side of their brain. Daniel Khaneman, founder of behavioral economics, suggests that, “When we take away emotional impulse, people make poorer decisions.” This is not to say that a purchase decision is entirely emotional, but rather that the emotional impulse is typically stronger than the analytical.

When we talk about price and terms (logical elements) too early in the process we are luring people into the analytical side of their brain. We are asking them to think of the details before there’s an emotional connection in place.

The proper strategy? Defer that conversation. Even if a customer asks early in the process, find a way to shelve the subject until later on.

“Great question, and I definitely want to talk about how we can make it easy for you to buy. Let’s find what you’re looking for first, and then we can talk about the exact terms. Fair enough?”

Just keep this rule-of-thumb in mind: The earlier in the process you talk about price, the less likely it is you will get the sale.

3. Saving the ask for the end of the process

The demise of too many sales presentations is the complete abandonment of agreement questions until the very end of the process. Nothing is more mentally trying on a prospect than to load all the agreements into one humongous final close.

Here’s why: Your customer is making decisions throughout the process, whether they’re prodded to do so or not. The difference is whether the decision is passive or active.

The buying brain is continually making subconscious decisions about the product, the features, the terms, the level of trust, etc. Prospects are making these decisions without even being aware of it. Psychologists refer to these as “reflexive brain” decisions. If we are only asking one final closing question (rather than agreement questions throughout the process) we’re putting the customer in an impossible position. That customer must assemble all the subconscious decisions into one huge final decision. Does that sound mentally taxing to anyone besides me?

By the way, that very customer is likely to respond with the old, “I want to think about it.” And that makes sense — the decisions that they made were subconscious; they really have no idea where they stand in this process.

When we ask agreement questions throughout the process we engage the customer’s active brain, their reflective brain. The customer becomes aware that they are moving closer to a purchase as they engage in a decision-making rhythm. When it is time to ask for the sale, the customer simply thinks back to all the conscious decisions they have made. Then the answer is obvious.

So how did you do? What can you work on? How can you better serve your customer? If you’re ready to make closing the easiest and most natural part of your sales presentation, click here.


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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and President of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in field-tested and proven consumer psychology-based sales training programs.

Jeff is a top-selling author, host of the popular sales podcast, The Buyer’s Mind, and an award-winning keynote speaker. He holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the NSA’s exclusive Million Dollar Speaker’s Group.

With over 30 years of real-world, frontline experience, Jeff’s advanced sales strategies spring from extensive research into the psychology of buying and selling. He teaches salespeople how to climb inside the mind of their customers to sell the way their buyers want to buy. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients generated over $30 billion in sales last year.