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Closing Takes Practice
By John Barrows | March 28, 2017

I love how some people say that “closing just happens.” They say that all you have to do is get a bunch of yeses throughout the sales process and eventually the client will sign the contract. No, they won’t! You have to ask.

Closing is like skydiving. The reason the instructor is strapped to your back when you go skydiving is first to make sure you don’t die, but second to make sure you jump. Most people would chicken out when it was their turn at the edge of the plane. The instructor is there to give you a little nudge and lean forward so you follow through. It’s the same with closing. Closing is not natural and it takes practice.

There are two main types of closes: hard and soft. Both are necessary since depending on the people or the scenario, different closes are appropriate. Both have their pros and cons, too. The point is: we need to learn, practice, and use both.

Hard closing is direct, requires immediate response, and usually maintains control. The problem with hard closing is that you may over qualify, it’s unappealing to “indirect” people, and it can ruin rapport.

The soft close is more natural, keeps borderline opportunities alive, and is non-confrontational. The problem with soft closing is that it wastes time, makes it hard to forecast, is unappealing to “direct” people, and can also sacrifice rapport.

A key to effective closing is to be proactive rather than reactive. I used to wait until I felt it was the right time to close. I relied on my gut, which wasn’t always accurate and it resulted in missed opportunities. Now I plan it out and I am much more effective because of it.

I’ve written before about how I think the best way to improve is to A/B split test everything. This includes closing. Here are some closing techniques you can split test and practice with in different scenarios:

Hard Close:

  • DIRECT: “Will you sign the PO today?”
  • OBJECTION: “If we can address that concern, will you sign today?”
  • REVERSE: “Why don’t you think you should sign today…?”
  • NEGATIVE: “I don’t think you should sign today…”

Soft Close:

  • ASSUMPTIVE: “When do you want to begin implementation?”
  • TRIAL: “If you had to make a recommendation today, would you endorse us?”
  • CHOICE: “Do you want this with A or B?”
  • PORCUPINE: “Does that come with X?” “Do you want it to come with X?”

Closing isn’t something that just happens at the end of the sales process. It happens all the way throughout. For your next call with a prospect, think of something you can close for, write it down, identify the close you’ll use, and try it out. See what happens. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Make it Happen!

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  • Eric Thiessen

    Once upon a time, we were taught to close with an assumptive 3 option question with our desired result as the 3rd option. An example would be asking which of the customer’s departments would benefit from being the first to have the new system installed, etc. This format influences the customer to respond with a specific rather than general objection, if there are any.

    That said, I’ve found that role playing closings never quite reflects reality enough to be really worthwhile. Your thoughts?

    • John Barrows

      I’ve never been a big fan of role play myself. It never really reflects the real scenario. I like it as a warm up exercise before a big meeting but not in a training scenario. I tend to practice closing by getting some less than desirable opportunities in my pipeline and trying things on them.

  • Great post! This is very true, even if you’re a senior in this industry, you’d need to still practice closing a sale. Keep it up!

    Brooke Harper

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