Sales – a closing conversation

When you’re closing a sale with a new prospect, what do you actually want? Just another entry in the order book, another deposit in the company accounts? No, you’re looking for more than that. You know that a sale is not a conclusion, it’s actually the beginning of something, of a new customer relationship (hopefully, leading to more sales in future). And it’s that perspective that informs how you close.

The problem with closing ‘tricks’

Of course, there are plenty of ploys that can help seal the deal, get you that new order, for example:

  • Ask the prospect to make a decision that assumes they’ve already decided to buy (e.g. Do you want the red or the blue?)
  • Make a limited-time-only offer (e.g.  We have a special 15% discount if you buy today.)
  • Offer a free trial so that the prospect gets used to the product or service (Amazon Prime is a classic example: super-easy to sign up for a free month, no obligation, but if the prospect doesn’t cancel in time, they start paying.)

But these tactics are all about manipulating people into becoming customers. And let’s face it, they’re also easy to see through. Yes, this approach may work, but selling someone something they neither want nor need is not good sales practice, it’s more like a con. And once someone feels conned, they’re unlikely to come back for more – and there goes the future customer relationship.

Ethical closing

So, if the tricks won’t get you what you want, what will? Essentially, if your closing sounds manipulative then you’re doing it wrong. Closing is a collaborative process: you and the prospect achieve a win-win outcome and begin a new relationship. The goal isn’t so much the sale as the relationship…

  • You can sell somebody something, but they’ll maybe resent you for it. Much better is to help them talk themselves into buying. Your role is to help them make a genuine decision, not make it for them.
  • However much of a high-performing sales monster you are, the sale is not about you. It’s about the prospect and what they want or need. Ask questions, listen, learn what they want and why. Then you can advise them on how your product or service meets their personal needs (much better than a more generic sales pitch).
  • Take the sale for granted. You may not know how you’re going to get there, but you know you will. And for this to work, you need to believe in what you’re offering; really believe that you can provide the right solution to this prospect. (This attitude also helps you avoid manipulative tricks like the ones above – after all, if the sale is going to happen sooner or later, there’s no need for low cunning!)
  • If they say “no”, you hear “not yet”. Obviously, this must be done sensitively. After a “no”, a break or change of subject might be indicated to avoid coming across as just another bullish, obsessed seller. But often, “no” means that there’s something you missed (you’re taking the sale for granted, remember?). There’s some factor you need to appreciate and that means (maybe after that break or subject change) asking more questions and listening to the answers to find out what is stopping them from saying “yes”.

Above all, remember that sales is not a well-regarded function by everyone. And when you consider that on a daily basis, most people’s experience of sales is an over-attentive shop assistant or an unknown number cold-calling them, that’s no wonder. Instead, think personal, think conversational, think helping the prospect choose to become a customer… And sell.


For more help in this area check out our wide variety of sales training courses, or give us a call on 01582 463463 to talk about tailoring something to your organisation’s specific requirements. We’re always here to help.