Sales Training Article: A Poor Way to Close

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

Many sales organizations place an extraordinarily high emphasis on closing. To ensure we’re on the same page let’s define closing as asking for the business. While exceptions (end of month, quarter, year) are common, my belief is that sellers are closing prematurely if buyers don’t have everything they need to make decisions. Closing too early pressures buyers. The best case is that concessions or discounting are necessary. The worst case is a loss to another vendor or to no decision.

When you think about it, issuing a proposal is a closing technique, as it should contain all the information needed to make buying decisions. In my experience, most proposals (especially those issued in multiple copies) are presented too soon. I’m especially concerned if an executive’s first exposure to a vendor is a proposal. I hope you’d agree in many cases the document isn’t fully read and an executive is likely to go toward the end to see the pricing. Absent any idea of value or a vendor’s capabilities they are likely to have sticker shock.

Ultimately proposals don’t sell, salespeople do. My suggestions:

  • Ask for the order only AFTER the buyer has everything they need
  • Try to provide proposals ONLY to Key Players that you’ve spoken to
  • Don’t expect anyone but your “coach” to read the proposal “cover-to-cover”
  • Proposals should document and confirm what has already been discussed and there should be no surprises in proposals
  • State an expiration date and enforce it. Many proposals linger in pipelines for months until they are finally acknowledges as losses. Proposals, like radioactivity, have half-lives.

I hope you agree proposals are a poor way to close. Consider trying to orchestrate a way to meet with buyers toward the end of buying cycles and review a draft of the proposal with Key Players. Certainly, getting it front of a buying committee just before they are scheduled to make decisions is a strong indicator that you are the preferred vendor. 

Take a look at the sales training workshops available to you.