by Tony Vidler
You should always be closing, right? No matter what else you are doing with prospective customers, and no matter what they think they want, you should always be pushing to close the business and make a sale.
Does ANYONE want to be the customer in that type of business relationship?
The line “Always Be Closing” was made famous in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” in 1992, but it captured perfectly the selling mindset of half a century leading up to that point. Several lifetimes ago when I first moved into the “advice” world and was a fresh-faced young thing eager to learn how to succeed (hard to believe I know!), I too went through all the classic sales training methods of the day.
The Impending Doom Close…The Alternative Choice Close…The Assumptive Close…..we were urged to roleplay and practice as only the young and clueless can on mastering bits of trickery designed to get someone to say “yes” when they really didn’t want to. The whole idea of such “salesmanship” is to achieve precisely that: get somebody to do something that they don’t want to do. It never sat well with me, and I was definitely considered a slow starter with poor sales skills…my peers were racing away making more sales and picking up accounts way back at the start, while I struggled along for the first 6 months of my career. A couple of years later I found out that my sales manager had been the only one in my corner for that 6 months, as Head Office wanted to fire me as an under-performer. Funnily enough, by that time (a couple of years into it) I was one of the top 10 advisers for the company nationally, and most of the peers who had started out with me on that initial training had been and gone.
My way was the slow way. I thought it was:
Not always be closing.
You don’t have to be a master psychologist to know that people hate feeling pressured into doing something. People hate feeling like they have been out manoeuvred. People hate feeling like they’ve been tricked.
Being closer to clients, and getting to know and understand them better leads to better relationships and higher trust. They are far more likely to consider and follow good advice. So Always Be Closer works for everyone – but it isn’t the whole answer.
We definitely need to sell.
Selling is absolutely necessary when giving advice. It is not about clever tricks, one liners, or pushing people into decisions they are not ready for though. We need to use sales skills to get clients to pause in their hectic lives, and to think and plan when they otherwise would not. We need to use sales skills to open their minds up to different possibilities and consider alternative ways of achieving goals. We need to use sales skills to challenge bias and pre-judgement without clients disengaging from the advice process. Sales skills are critical to managing behaviour, and with guiding and coaching people to do things which are beneficial for themselves, but which they otherwise might not do.
Forget the “closing” and focus on “coaching”. The business will be done when the right solution is delivered to clients who are in the right mindset, and when the time is right for it to be done. Closing, as part of the sales and advice process, should ideally be a complete anti-climax. It is not the highpoint of the advice process at all, but just another of the steps on the coaching journey.
The thing is you cannot be both a Coach and a perpetual Closer. A Coach is there to teach, guide, and mentor others to achieve THEIR objectives ….a Closer just wants to get a deal done and move on to the next deal. To build a valuable business with loyal clients who are continually taking guidance you do need to be constantly coaching simply because that is what the clients value and will happily pay for.
That is what they will thank you for. So do that.
Pretty simple really.