The Death of “Closing Techniques”?

closing techniquesThe Ben Franklin.

The Alternate Advance.

The Puppy Dog.

All closing techniques.

All still valid?

Let's look at three things of note about these closes. First of all, prospects are "on" to them. These closing techniques have been around a very long time, and buyers have seen them many times. So even though their faces may not show it, they know what you're doing.

Second, are you really going to memorize the literally hundreds of these closing techniques--and remember the precise one to bring out for your current situation?

Third, do they actually work? Seriously. I strongly suspect you would have made the sale anyway, regardless of the exact closing technique you used.

Some Key Thoughts On Closing Techniques

Is a closing technique effective on someone who is aware it's being used on them? I believe this depends on how strong your up front contract with the prospect is. If they agreed to go along with you in the process, then yes it should work because they agreed to the rules.

How about memorization? I trained Kung Fu for four years, four or five nights a week. And I've found learning sales methodology is a whole lot like training a martial art. One moment that stands out in my memory is a friend who was a fellow student saying, "You train the advanced techniques not to use them in a fight. You probably won't remember them. But you will be more competent with your basic stances, punches, kicks and blocks."

I continue to mull this over, many years later. I'm not sure he was right. When training, we develop 'muscle memory'. That muscle memory enables our body to quickly react to certain stimuli: a guy popping out of the bushes to our side, for instance. It doesn't rely on thinking memory at all. In that first moment, you don't have time to think at all. Your trained technique is the quick reaction of your body to defend itself. Sales conversations are just as fast.

But now comes the interesting point for the advanced student. This will not happen for newbies, because they are still crashing around, wondering what's going on. But students with some experience have seen things. Time slows down for them after that initial instance of surprise. I can tell you if I see someone coming down the street with intention to harm me, I have a very long time to decide what to do. I can come up with the advanced technique. And if I survive a surprise attack, that slowdown of subjective time also occurs. We're in familiar territory now.

Let's take this to selling. Your newbie is surprised by everything that happens. Prospects behave strangely, don't do what you expect them to, and you haven't laid out any ground rules for your discussion. Everything is an accident.

Your advanced student has seen a thing or two. They know the situation they're getting into; perhaps they have had this conversation many times with similar prospects. They are aware best results come from getting agreements on ground rules for the conversation (up front contracts), and they know for the most part what prospects are going to do. How they are going to try and get free consulting much of the time. How the salesperson must keep control of the process, or become an unpaid consultant. And they have time to come up with the advanced solution or technique.

So memorization of many closing techniques may be effective. But is it the best way to proceed?

If prospects know what you're doing, even if they've agreed to go along with it, they may become resentful. And if you make a mistake and use the wrong technique, you'll get the equivalent of a broken kneecap in sales: a busted conversation. Shut down.

For advanced sales students, it's pretty well known now that if we ask the right questions we can uncover the real reasons a prospect would buy. We know how to qualify them. And so regardless of the closing method we happen to pull out of the toolkit for this instance, I believe we have a very good chance of making the sale--because we have done the ground work well already.

Make sense?

Let's think about what we want to accomplish with closing techniques. To get the sale, right? If the prospect is qualified In, why not? Well, this approach puts a lot of pressure on YOU. But the pressure should be on the prospect, shouldn't it? They're the one with the big problem that badly needs fixing, and they know it. Instead, how about having the approach of wanting to achieve the close because you don't want to become an unpaid consultant.

Think about it. You don't want to give away your knowledge. So you make sure you don't do that unless your client is all signed up. This approach keeps you from getting into conversations where you get taken advantage of. It protects you. And it also benefits the prospect, because it ensures you will only get involved with clients you are very happy to be working with. Furthermore, you don't have to memorize hundreds of techniques you may never use. I believe closing techniques ARE dead. Instead of 'closing', build your process around becoming a paid consultant for your valuable expertise. Roll this around in your mind.

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