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Mailbag: Closing the Sale

This note comes in today’s mailbag:

James writes, “I have a hard time closing the sale. I struggle between wanting to be passive and carefree about the deal, and being too aggressive, and then worrying about losing the sale. I have the skills and competency and experience to do the job, but it is hard for me to close the sale. Does this mean I am just a bad salesperson? What do I do to get better at this and find a balance when I feel like I’m trying to grasp the greased watermelon?”

Being passive isn’t the answer. You can’t sit around and wait for your dream client to ask you if they can finally buy from you. Being aggressive isn’t the answer either. It smacks of being self-oriented or desperation. You aren’t a bad salesperson for not knowing how to do some necessary part of the job. Knowing that you don’t know how to do something and not doing anything about it would make you a bad salesperson.

If you struggle to close it likely means that you are afraid to ask for commitments. If you are going to succeed in sales (and life), you are going to have to ask people for commitments. The root of your fear of asking for commitments might be your fear of not knowing what to say if your dream client says no. Or it might be that you don’t feel that you’ve earned it. But my guess is that you just don’t have words that your comfortable using. I just wrote an article for Success Magazine covering this very topic.

You don’t need books of different closes. You don’t need special closing techniques. You just need to ask directly. Try something like, “I feel like we know enough to move forward on this idea. Can we start work on this now, or is some other step you think we need to take first?” Or try this, “Can we get started in this project for you?”

If you’ve earned the commitment you are asking for, you shouldn’t have any reluctance or fear of asking. Just ask directly and naturally.


How do you ask for the business?

When do you ask?

What are the root causes of the fear of asking for commitments, especially the commitment to buy?

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  • Brett

    1) The busier I’ve gotten, the easier it’s become to present and simply ask if we can move forward… ‘Does this proposal solve the problems that you came to us with?’ “Would you like to move forward?”
    2) Depending on the situation, I’ll ask as soon as I present. If it’s a situation where face-to-face is impossible, I’ll send a proposal. I’ll call immediately to follow up and ask for their time line. I’ll normally follow up in a couple days to see if there are additional questions that need to be addressed and to find out if all the decision makers have been brought in.
    3) A commitment to buy would require that we deliver fully on our promises. That can be a root, depending on the nature of the deal. That could be a personal thing or an overall organizational thing–do I think my team can deliver? I see (at different times in different folks – NEVER in myself :-) fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of what the new relationship will require over the long-term.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Must have confidence in your team to sell!