The Problem with Closing

Problem With ClosingThe problem with closing is that it's a lousy word for it.

Who else agrees with me? Charles Lytle, founder of Sparque, Inc., and author of The Accidental Salesperson & The Accidental Sales Manager. "KILLER WANTED" was the Wanted Ad headline he recently wrote about seeing.

The Problem with Closing as Your Focus

This is a common focus for hiring salespeople. However, as Lytle points out, it's extremely short-sighted. Do we really want just a salesperson who gets the order and that's it?

Something is missing here. And it's missing from these job advertisements, too.

Ask yourself: does the sales process and your business relationship with the customer end at the point the salesperson receives the payment?

As Lytle continues to question about the problem with closing: is the close a "kill", or the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship with the client?

And what happens when word gets around in your market that you only hire "killers" and that one of these guys is coming to darken their door?

People who have received my training and heard the "Hollywood Horror Movie Killer" story will get an immediate, visceral mental picture here. It works both ways--client and salesperson.

Lytle's article discusses four different possible approaches to closing:

  • Opening the business relationship
  • Confirming the order
  • Implementing the plan or solution
  • Order acquisition.

Definitely worth reading.

The Presentation Reliance Problem with Closing

Another big problem with closing is the reliance many salespeople have on their sales materials. What's the issue here? Salespeople who rely on their presentation material risk their conversations becoming "canned". They fossilize over time and stop asking their prospect any questions. And worst of all, they begin to believe that presenting, and optimizing their presentation, is the one and only key to sales success. Incorrect.

As we saw with the recent article on the making of the Alien movie, a picture is worth a lot--in Ridley Scott's case, $4.2 million and doubling his budget thanks to storyboards.

So we do want to paint a picture of what the world will be like for our prospect once the solution is implemented.

But it's much more effective when the prospect at least helps paint the picture--or even entirely paints it themselves.

If they say it, it's true. If you say it, you have to defend it.

Long-term followers of mine will know this maxim.

How to achieve this? Trainer Mark Hunter recommends we "Sell Naked!", by which he means leaving our sales materials at the office.

This forces you to engage your prospect and have them paint at least part of the picture. And you have to know your capabilities--product or service--really well.

As an example of the problem with closing via presentation, consider web design. The average salesperson will bring in a bunch of sample design screenshots. But what you like may not be what the prospect considers impressive. Many people forget this. So your prospect could easily be turned off by what they see...even though there may be nothing at all "wrong" with your designs!

So what happens if we push a pen and paper across to our prospect and ask, "What would you like to see?"

This approach is much more effective and likely to result in the prospect closing themselves. How many other salespeople do you think would ask them this? The rest are shoving screenshots at them, trying to overbear them with "proof" they can do the job. Ask yourself: how do you feel when someone is desperately trying to prove to you why they should get your order?

The problem with closing is the word is a bad descriptor. It implies the end of something. In fact, for great salespeople and companies, the close is just the beginning.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales trainer. If you'd like to learn sales tactics that push you over the top, get Sales On Fire. And please Like, Share or Comment to show others you got value from this content! <<

Jason Kanigan


  1. That is worth another read. I will be getting back to this with a clear head.

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