I received a few emails about my Always Be Closing post from yesterday.
Some people thought that this was old-school advice of the kind that is no longer useful in today’s day and age. One email insisted that not only was closing no longer useful advice, but the better advice would be to insist that sales people never close. In his opinion, if a salesperson does his job well, he and the customer will just naturally arrive at the next stage together without anyone saying a word.
But I don’t know a sales manager anywhere who will tell me that their pipeline isn’t littered with opportunities for which the salesperson hasn’t gained the necessary next commitment. What’s really old school is to pretend that most salespeople are like Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most salespeople are more “always be comfortable” than they are “always be closing.”
In the old days, when salespeople sold product, always be closing was good advice. You needed to ask for the final commitment, especially when there wasn’t much at stake. Now, you have to gain many smaller–but still critically important–commitments. And you have to close for those commitments.
The Seductive Long Sales Cycle
The long sales cycle is seductive. You can take time and create value during multiple visits, and prematurely closing for the final commitment would destroy an opportunity. The seduction is that you can be comfortable and avoid conflict; if you ask and your client says “no,” you have conflict. When that happens, you have to deal with that objection.
I’m certain a lot of salespeople would be happier with always be comfortable than always be closing. There is no way to understate the importance of gaining commitments. And there is no reason to pretend that you aren’t closing for the next commitment. We’ve softened the language too much. No matter how long the sale cycle, there are a series of commitments that you must acquire between target and close. If you create value it’s very easy and natural to ask for these commitments, and asking is in fact closing.
Selling Isn’t Something Bad That You Do To Somebody
Selling isn’t something that you do to somebody. Selling is something you do with somebody, and closing is agreeing together to move forward. It’s okay to ask for the commitments you’ve earned. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s necessary.