The Stupid Idea of Being a Closer

Every week I receive an InMail or a connection request on LinkedIn from a person who describes them as a “high ticket closer,” an inaccurate description of both the individual and their skill set. Also not something a salesperson should ever strive to become.

First, let’s dispatch with the idea of “high ticket.” The idea that $2,997 is a “high ticket” is an indication that the person describing themselves in this way is not a “high ticket” anything, that number being minuscule. Real Estate Agents, automobile salespeople, and a reasonably good tailor all have average sales that are many times larger, and business-to-business salespeople would find that description laughable.

Second, let’s deal with the idea of “being a closer.” Your intentions in sales matter. Who you are matters. Your character matters. What you do and how you do it projects these things to others. The idea that one should be a closer suggests that what matters most is a signed contract, making the entire interaction about the outcome the person selling wants and not about the person buying and their results. I am forced here to use the clumsy description “the person selling,” because such a person is not worthy of calling themselves a salesperson.

These “closers” have been taught to manipulate and pressure individuals to buy by con-artists and charlatans who used the very same tactics to sell them a get rich quick scheme (another unfortunate, but accurate, term as these snake oil salesmen are not selling a solution as much as they are selling the individual a dream, and nothing more). These would-be wolves don’t know they’re sheep.

Your Philosophy and Your Intentions

In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, I wrote about the importance of having a philosophy of sales that guides your intentions and your actions. I summed up this other-oriented philosophy with this idea: “Selling isn’t something you do to someone. It is something you do with and for someone.” Once one understands and embodies this philosophy, selling is a whole lot easier.

The idea that one needs “to close” their prospective client suggests that the person is doing something “to” their prospect—not for them or with them. The idea that one needs to close a sale in a single interaction and that pressure must be applied is evidence that the person selling doesn’t know how to sell. Pressure, force, and manipulation are the tactics and tricks of those who don’t know how to sell. You’ll have to forgive my strong language here, but it also makes you a five-star, gold-plated asshole.

These are the approaches of those who wish to get rich quick. It’s what one does when they know no better, and when they are looking for a result without having to do the necessary work. They are looking for a way to hack the outcome. It is an immature mentality, the mindset of a small child, the tactics of one who is not mature enough to delay their gratification. You should outgrow this by around the age of six or seven.

Grown Up Sales

I don’t need to write what follows. If you are a professional salesperson, nothing I say here is going to provide you with anything more than a confirmation of who you are and what you already believe. What follows is for those who may need a more accurate understanding of what closing means to real salespeople.

In sales, it is essential to gain commitments (video). Those commitments are what allows a salesperson and their prospective clients to have the conversations necessary to explore change, collaborate and evaluate potential solutions, determine the appropriate and necessary investment, review the solution, and resolve the prospective client’s concerns. The commitment to decide to move forward is the easiest and most natural outcome when a salesperson helps their potential client by creating value through this process (or something like it).

If the commitment to move forward isn’t easy for you to obtain, it’s an indication that you didn’t do an excellent job throughout the sales conversation. It might also be that you have been taught to be a smarmy, self-oriented person who mistakenly believes what they are doing is selling, in which case, your approach repels your prospects. Great salespeople don’t have to resort to high pressure, which is why we call what we do “selling” and not “closing.”

All of the people I have heard describe themselves as a “closer” couldn’t close a door with both hands and an instructional manual. The ability to win business is inversely proportional to the individual’s willingness to describe themselves as a “closer.”

Trusted. Advisor. Consultative. Salesperson.

If you ask a salesperson what they aspire to be, you will hear them describe their desire to be a trusted advisor (video). You will also hear them suggest they want to be consultative.

Real salespeople won’t sell something to their prospective clients if they don’t believe it will serve them. Not selling someone something isn’t right for them is how salespeople create and retain trust. Once you break that trust, your prospective client is no longer going to listen to your advice, nor should they. A professional salesperson values their relationships over the individual transaction.

Those who call sales their profession don’t try to close people, nor do they try to use a one-call close (video) when it isn’t appropriate. Nor do they pressure their future clients.

A real salesperson creates a preference to buy from—and work with—them by creating value for their prospective client, most of which occurs long before the potential client decides to buy. If you can’t sell effectively, the right solution is to learn to sell better, not to use manipulation, force, or pressure. If you don’t want to learn to sell effectively, you should find another line of work.

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