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.

This Week's Post:

The Gospel of Closing

Gary Boye

Who would ever start reading a treatise on the business of selling without wanting to learn more about how to close sales? How many times have you heard that there are "secrets" to closing sales? Closing secrets-that's enticing! It's only natural to want to be let in on the secrets. Wouldn't it be horrible to spend our whole lives in sales and not be privy to how to actually make money at it?

We often hear or read the phrases, "closing tactics" and "closing techniques." You may have heard or used the term, "closing question." Is that the coup d'état to a masterful sales presentation. Or, is it supposed to be the salvager to a weak one?

Salespeople sometimes get chastised by their "superiors" for not "asking for the order." Is asking for the order the close? Some of us have been taught a linear sales process that ends with "the close." (AIDCA, anyone?) That would make it an event, wouldn't it?

Answer: The closing of a sale is not an event. It is a progression. One of the Four Applied Understandings that you are now studying states:

Closing is a progression of consent.

It's time to take that very serious if you're intent on mastering the craft of selling.

Let's pull this idea apart and have a closer look. Remember the AIDCA model we discussed earlier? Well, it's flawed. Remember how the first "A" in the acronym stands for Attention, something we want to gain. It should stand for Agreement. Why? It's because the best way to get positive attention is to establish common ground early. So much for the stereotype, dumb, cartoonish, attention-getting, plaid suits that were used to demean salespeople in the public's mind in years gone by.

Establishing common ground early is the first step in a progression of consent. That's what closing is: a series of agreements that lead to a desired outcome.

Does that give credibility, finally, to that platitude, Always Be Closing? I think it does.

Further, closing is not tactical. It is a strategic experience. Unfortunately, strategy is one of the most misunderstood words in our language. As a result, the words, "strategic" and "tactical" are often wrongly interchanged.

A mentor of mine, a renowned expert on the subject, has told me that one of the best parts of strategy is that most people don't understand it. And-that gives those that do understand it a huge advantage.

This is not the place to completely cover the tenets of strategy. With that in mind I will offer the following working definition which will suffice for these discussions.

Strategy consists of putting things in place to achieve a desired outcome.

Those Four Applied Understandings for success in selling happen to reside in the realm of strategy.

In the next section, we are going to continue our study of the essence of closing sales. We are going to begin with another reference drawn from the art of strategy.