Bad Sales Closing Practices

Closing comes down to one question: Who is the close for? If closing is for the salesperson or 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 is to have customers agree with themselves. The message they send to their brain is 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 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 the following deal-killing strategies.

Forcing Your Customer to Take the Lead

There is a ubiquitous question 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 ask the customer to take the lead and describe the situation and the solution.

Nothing like saying to a customer, “You go first. I’d 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.

Talking About Price and Terms Early in the Conversation

People buy from the emotional side of their brain. Daniel Kahneman, the 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 one.

When we talk about price and terms (logical elements) too early in the process, we are luring people into the analytical side of their brains. We ask them to think of the details before an emotional connection is in place.

What is 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 want to talk about how we can make it easy for you to buy. Let’s find what you’re looking for, and then we can discuss the exact terms. Fair enough?”

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

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 loading all the agreements into one humongous final close.

Here’s why: Your customer makes decisions throughout the process, whether they’re prodded to do so. The difference is whether the decision is passive or active.

The buying brain continually makes subconscious decisions about the product, the features, the terms, the level of trust, etc. Prospects are making these decisions without even being aware of them. Psychologists refer to these as “reflexive brain” decisions. If we only ask 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 — their decisions were subconscious; they 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. Customers become 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 their conscious decisions. Then the answer is obvious.

What can you work on? How can you better serve your customer?

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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and CEO of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in psychology-based sales training programs. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients delivered over 145,000 new homes generating $54 billion in revenue last year.