Closing the Sale: Avoid 3 Common Mistakes

We have all heard it before, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I agree 100 percent with that statement. But sometimes we ask for the sale and still don’t get it. That’s about the most frustrating moment I can think of in the sales process, barring a cancellation.

When I am out in the field coaching salespeople or watching video shops, I often come across common mistakes that salespeople make when closing the sale. I get that there are reasons people don’t buy that have nothing to do with our delivery or mindset, but I teach salespeople to focus on the things they can control.

Here are three common mistakes when closing the sale and how to avoid them:

Shaking Your Head in a “No” Fashion When Asking for The Sale

As you are reading this you might think to yourself, “This one doesn’t apply to me. I have been selling for 25 years.”

Well, not so fast. Here is what I see in the field: almost one of every two salespeople I coach shakes their head in a “no” fashion when asking for the sale. Yes, you read that correctly.

I get why we do this. On a subconscious level, we are thinking, “Buying this _____ (car, home, suit, etc.) is a no-brainer.”

The challenge is that your focus is on the word “No” from “No brainer.” That causes people to often shake their heads no when they ask for the sale.

So what’s the fix? I can tell you it’s not to shake your head in a “yes” fashion. That can come off as super manipulative.

Instead, have no motion. Be casual.

Not asking at all or “Sort of Asking”

I think not asking for the sale is an obvious mistake. My question goes a little deeper. Why don’t we ask for the sale? The answer has more to do with judgment than facts.

I find we tend to assume whether people will buy or not and that is a horrible strategy. We cannot predict with great accuracy who will and who will not buy. If you can, you should be in Vegas right about now.

Instead, commit to asking 100 percent of the people you interact with if they want to purchase. If you ask everyone, I guarantee you will make more sales.

In addition to not asking, sometimes I see salespeople “sort of ask.” What I mean is they ask a question that should be a closing question but is not even close. Here are a few examples:

  • “So what do you think?”
  • “Do you have any questions?”
  • “Would you like to schedule a return appointment?”

Your closing question must be definitive and confident in the customer’s mind. In other words, customers should know exactly what you are asking of them, and that is a commitment to purchase.

Asking for you and not for your customer

Allow me to unpack this one a bit. Years ago, closing the sale was taught as something we do “to” people. We “closed’ them. Movies like Glengarry, Glen Ross and Boiler Room come to my mind as I write this.

People don’t want to be closed yet they do love to be helped. That being the case, this tip is a bit of a paradigm shift.

Think of it this way, every customer you work with has one thing in common; they are looking to improve their life. Their hope is that your product or service will somehow serve as that desired improvement.

The challenge most salespeople face is they don’t know what needs to improve. Work on uncovering the connection between their dissatisfaction and how your product solves that dissatisfaction and your close will become something you do “for” your customers instead of “to” them.

Think about this. When you eliminate the kinks in closing the sale, you will have the best chance to help improve your customers’ lives. You will have the best chance of changing their world.

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About the Author: Ryan Taft

Ryan Taft is consumed with a passion for helping others achieve breakthrough results in sales, business and life. With a career spanning two decades training and coaching sales teams from call centers to new home sales to Realtors®, Ryan combines his knowledge of human performance, psychology and sales skills development to deliver extraordinarily engaging, energizing and insightful training experiences that drive peak performance at all levels.  Learn more at and follow Ryan on Twitter.