In Closing, Always Take the Lead

Always Be Closing!The title sounds like I’m wrapping up a speech, doesn’t it? In actuality, it’s the beginning of our discussion today. Our topic is Closing. Before we begin, let me tell you what you won’t find: high-pressure sales tactics, sleazy, underhanded promotions, or cheap tricks. Any of you that know me realize I don’t have a high-pressure bone in my body, I’m very straightforward, and the only Cheap Trick I enjoy announced new tour dates for 2013.

Let’s talk about assuming the sale (closing), and why doing anything else is a disservice to your customers. Stephan Schiffman, in his book The 25 Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople, lists “Taking the Lead” as Habit #3. Under the subheading, The perils of doing anything and everything to avoid offending the prospect, he states:

“How many presentations are sabotaged by salespeople who want to avoid ‘offending’ – and never get around to mentioning the reason they stepped in the door in the first place? Take charge. Make a conscious choice to inform the prospect with regard to where you both are in the process. The alternative is long, ‘good’ meetings that end in the odd, result-free limbo that leaves neither party sure what to do next.”[i]

By not assuming the sale, everyone walks away feeling cheated. To illustrate, imagine having this amazing cheesecake you want to share with a business associate. You engage him in conversation, and find out that he loves cheesecake, hasn’t had it in months, and would kill for a piece during the coffee break. It’s a done deal, right? Yet, instead of saying, “Well, guess what? I’ve got a piece for you right here! Do you want me to leave it with you now, or bring it during the break?” you say, “Oh, okay…” Your business associate has no idea you’ve got cheesecake for him. On the other hand, you’re assuming he’s going to ask for a piece after the detailed conversation you just had. Most likely, he won’t, and you’ll both lose out. He’s still fiending for cheesecake, and you won’t experience the pleasure of giving someone you admire the thing that makes them happy.

It’s the same in business. You have a responsibility to assume the sale. That gives everyone what they want. “But, what if they’re just not ready to buy?” They’ll tell you that, and also tell you why – something you need to know if you’re to move forward in the sales process.

You’re The Bus Driver

You're the bus driver - so drive!

You’re the bus driver – so drive!

Gary Kostrewski, a man who taught me so much, was fond of saying, “you’re the bus driver” to anyone in charge. That’s especially true when it comes to closing. If you don’t make an assumptive close, it’s like sitting behind the wheel of a bus. Your prospect, the passenger, looks forward to reaching his or her destination. You’re moving along smoothly, when all of a sudden, you let go of the wheel! You figure your prospect will jump in and take over (after all, they have a vested interest in arriving safely), but that just doesn’t happen. They don’t have the ability to take control and reach the destination.

In business, you’re the bus driver. You have the knowledge and skill to address the needs and solve the problems of your prospect through your goods and services. Your sales meetings are like driving the bus towards a destination. But if you don’t assume the sale, if you don’t close, it’s like letting go of the wheel, hoping the prospect is going to jump in and save the day! The results to your prospect and your business are just as disastrous as if you were behind the wheel of a bus driving a passenger and just let go. Please – don’t do it! You owe it to your prospect to close the sale.

But I’m Not a Salesperson!

I hear that often from business owners. *Sigh!* You’re such a dreamer! If you own a business, you’re in sales. You’re selling yourself – your product and/or services. You’re telling the public to do business with you as opposed to all the other people in your profession or industry. Believe me, you’re selling someone. That’s a good thing! Sales drive our economy, and a good sales presentation always ends with a close. What form that takes varies from industry to industry, but believe me, you’re always closing.

Always remember the maxim: In closing, always take the lead.

Some of you shudder at the mere mention of “sales.” If that’s the case, take heart! There are resources out here to help. Mr. Schiffman is available through his website, or you can reach him at 212-836-4719. You can also give me a call at 646-340-8087, or email me at to set up a time to discuss some options.

Some Miscellaneous Stuff

There’s still a contest to win a Business Plan Executive Summary! Click the “Follow” button above to enter as well as receive updates on this blog. For details, see Out With the Old, In With the New! Also, please Comment below with any questions or concerns you have. All feedback is very much appreciated.

PS: To my Twitter and Facebook Followers – Thanks so much for keeping up with my blog! Many of you read and occasionally leave comments, which is a wonderful thing. The one caveat with the WordPress/Twitter/Facebook connection is that I don’t have a record of who is following. So, for my benefit – and to enter the contest mentioned above – click the “Follow” button in the upper right hand corner. I look forward to keeping in touch with you.

[i] Schiffman, Stephan. “The 25 Habits of Successful Salespeople,” p. 28, 1994. Adams Media, 57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 02322


5 thoughts on “In Closing, Always Take the Lead

  1. The only way to really “seal the deal” is by starting with the right questions. In retail, they are referred to as “open-ended.” The reasoning behind this is to deny one the easy way out thru “yes” and “no” answers. It puts them in a position where they really have to give feedback, thus making your job much easier.

    Before you get too relaxed, however, it does not let you off the hook! It also requires active listening on your part so you are able to pose the correct questions and help them find the appropriate good or service that suits their needs. Not only will this help you determine which options to offer, they will also feel as though you appreciate their presence and are truly sincere about helping them.

    Once they walk through your doors (or accept you walking through theirs), assume you have something they want. They have made this much clear: they have money they want to spend, they have something they need or want (even though in some cases they cannot readily tell you what it is), and they are thinking about spending their money with you. They are practically handing it to you. All you need to do is claim it!

  2. Pingback: Customer Experience – Some Key Things it is NOT | Back-Office Bulletin

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