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Elegant Closing: Sometimes You Have To Play Softball

By Terri Sjodin
Author, New Sales Speak
When closing a deal, one of the most common mistakes is that people conclude, they don’t close. What I mean by concluding is that you are simply wrapping up a conversation, leaving

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crucial aspects of a negotiation open-ended. By closing, you end a negotiation or business meeting with specific results in mind: Clear, precise parameters that allows both parties to know exactly where the deal stands.

Another huge problem people have is the fear of closing. If you’re concerned about being rejected? What if they say no? Your biggest concern should really be if the client simply doesn’t say anything. Statistically, if nothing is said and no parameters are set, the client won’t think about it. The more time that goes by, the more they will forget. Some may not, but chances are that this idea will go on the back burner and unless you make the effort to bring it to the forefront.

This is a crucial crossroads - You have to ask for the next appointment time. Give a definitive time when you will follow up on the discussion or continue talks if the deal has not been resolved.

At this point you may ask, “Are you ready to make a decision?” If the answer is no, you should ask why. It sounds simple, but perhaps their concerns could be handled with a simple resolution. They may have certain concerns – money, timeline, senior approval – find out why they’re not comfortable moving forward and determine whether you have the ability to compromise.

Once you have made the discovery of why a deal may not close right then and there… don’t be hard sell! Be elegant. Be calm. Be professional. Set up another time to meet. Give the client the chance to think about it, solve problems, determine an effective timeline and really be available to follow up. Again, set a definitive time!

When closing, one of worst things you can say is “So, what do you think?”

Instead, be more direct and clear: “Are you ready to move forward?”

Again, if the answer is no, take a moment and utilize this helpful tool: Step back and ask “In a perfect world, how would this deal look to you?” Who knows, if they paint you a picture of what their perfect world would look like, it’s possible that you could easily make their dream a reality. You’re now one step closer to closing the deal.

I did this with one of my clients in the past, and after I asked the Perfect world question, we set up a timeline. However I ran into another problem… They wanted me to deliver in 14-28 days! This even surpassed my own expectations! And it brings up another point: It’s important to ask even in deals that are going to go through, because you want to know the full spectrum of your expectations.

All in all, closing isn’t always about playing hardball. Sometimes it’s very organic and surfaces form the content of the relationship, over time, and the components of many separate discussions. The truth is that there are a series of presentations that occur, and a series of baby-sized closes along the way. These occur in waves and by way of each one, the transaction moves forward and gets more and more colorful. In the end, sometimes you just have to give it the ability work out organically.

- Terri