Sales Blog: Observations and Insights on Selling

The SalesPractice blog offers weekly observations and insights for sales practitioners pursuing the highest levels of performance in personal selling.

Putting Things in Place

Gary Boye

CLOSING A SALE is not a tactical maneuver. It is a strategic experience.

Strategy is one of the most misunderstood words in our language. As a result, the words, "strategic" and "tactical" are often wrongly interchanged. They will not be mingled in that manner throughout these pages. A mentor of mine, a renowned expert on the subject, told me on a few occasions that one of the best parts of strategy is that most people don't understand it which gives those that do understand it a huge advantage.

This is not the place to completely cover the tenets of strategy. A fellow by the name of Sun Tzu did that over 2500 years ago on bamboo strips. But, I will offer the following working definition to suffice for these discussions. Strategy consists of putting things in place to achieve a desired outcome. That is a simple and effective way to think about it.

The Four Applied Understandings that we refer to throughout these pages happen to reside in the realm of strategy. One of those understandings is that closing is a progression of consent. I look upon a progression of consent as the process of putting agreements in place by targeting them one at a time. I know that if every required agreement was in place, there would be no reason for an "event" that others call "a close," because a natural and easy conclusion would exist. Some people erroneously believe that a "closing question" and a close are synonymous. So--they think the question should be tricky or clever. However, it's folly to think about closing as one singular big stroke (He shoots; he scores!) That gives rise to the misguided notion that closing is a tactic. How often have we heard the term, "closing tactics?"But if the salesperson has followed a progression of consent, the "call to action" would be there in its silence. The sale is there for the taking. The signature on the dotted line is a formality, not the result of a heroic maneuver.

Is consent all that has to be put in place in a sales conversation? Did I just hear the word, "rapport?"

I have been hearing about rapport ever since I ventured into sales education. As a matter of fact, I'm constantly told it's something we are supposed to "build." With all respect to those who pet goldfish and admire bowling trophies, I much prefer harmony over rapport. In the conversation between buyer and seller, harmony is exemplified by conditions of mutual trust and respect. I focus a lot on the word, "mutual." The harmony and conditions of mutual trust and respect allow us to enter the other person's world. They are indicative of forms of consent in its own right.

We can disengage from the notion that closing comes at the tail end. We can think of closing a sale as a holistic practice. We can see that the harmony of mutual trust and respect is something we seek to "put into place" because we see it as part of a strategy-not an isolated shot-in-the-dark tactic? It's not a sin to suspend our belief in rapport in favor of seeking, identifying, and participating in conditions of mutual trust and respect.