The Greatest Myth In Sales: Always Be Closing

The whole concept of closing brings with it many myths.  These myths are perpetuated by old schools of selling; they placed a heavy emphasis on this particular stage of selling.  What’s worse, many are a little intimidated to challenge the old conventional methods of selling.

Well, not today.

I can still hear Alec Baldwins voice in my head: “Follow the ABC’s of closing; A – Always, B – Be, C – Closing.  Always Be Closing; Always Be Closing!”  Interesting statement.  If he had said “Always Be Trial Closing,” I might tend to agree. That would simply allow you to confirm where in the buying cycle your client may be.  That is not the intent of this myth, however. This myth refers to the belief that the more you ask for someone’s business, the better your chance of getting it.  It’s an interesting thought, but unfortunately, it’s categorically false.

Please don’t get me wrong.  This theory was not always false.  There was a time when orange leisure suits were in style, and pet rocks ruled the world… but that’s in the past.  Customers have gotten a lot smarter, and the bombardment of closes will not assist you in closing today’s buyers.  As a matter of fact, it will most likely work against you.

Xerox once commissioned a study looking into this exact point.  The results were astounding, and they taught us a few things.  First, a commitment line began to emerge right around the $100 level.  When a salesperson attempted to close on items that cost less than $100, their chances of gaining a commitment actually increased by 4% with each close that was used.  This might explain your weakness when shopping and making impulse purchases on smaller, less expensive items.

However, once the price of the commitment rose above $100, something amazing happened.  If customers were not ready to buy, they began to withdraw… quickly!  In fact, if the response to the salesperson’s close was “no,” the chances of gaining a commitment from the customer immediately fell by 24%!  I’m surprised the number wasn’t even higher.

Why?  A lot of it has to do with ego.  Many customers feel that once they have said “no” to something, they will appear weak or feel manipulated if they were to say “yes” later.  There is a kind of power to saying “no” to a salesperson.  The customer is left thinking, “I said ‘no’ and I’m not letting some fast talking, smooth salesperson change my mind.  I said ‘no’ and I’m sticking with ‘no’!”

The customer “digs in,” not wanting to feel manipulated into saying “yes.”  The salesperson “digs in,” not wanting to take “no” for an answer.  Someone is going to lose and give in, and neither party wants it to be them.  It becomes obvious that by accepting this myth of “always be closing,” you are taking an unnecessary gamble.

For the record, I’ve never been a fan of sales books or seminars that focus solely on closing techniques.  Why would you want to only focus on learning the “tricks” of closing?  You have to earn the right to close, and to ask a customer for a commitment.  Instead of spending the entire day obsessing on closing techniques, I’d rather use that time learning how to earn the right to ask for someone’s business.  To this day, I get queries about whether I have any interest in teaching seminars dedicated solely to closing.  The answer is always the same: “no.” Rest assured, I will never do it.

Related: Building Sales by Having a True Conversation