" I beg your pardon. What did you say?"

" That with ahead go to like you would." Again?

" Would you mind translating that into English."

" It's about closing," Dennis said, " my favorite selling topic. And it's what I ask of anybody who sells on my team. Get a good closing question or statement and practice it until you can say it backward in your sleep."

Dennis M. manages a group of about 100 salespeople and managers in the printing industry. His top salesperson made over $700,000 last year. An average performer makes about $150,000 a year, so he can be pretty demanding when it comes to their time and attention.

" I stopped fooling around with all the minor events that take place in a sales transaction years ago. All I talk to them about in training and coaching now is closing. It's the topic that almost everyone I've ever known in sales has the most problem with and the thing that they are most in denial about. So I work with them on closing because its so leveraged. And one of the most valuable tools for me has been the ' That with ahead go to like you would' exercise."

" That's 'Would you like to go ahead with that?' backwards," he said, " which happens to be the strongest and simplest closing question I've ever seen or heard. It's so powerful, because it's so simple. If every one of them would just come out and ask that exact question every time they get an acknowledgement of value from the customer, they would close three times as many deals, and get rid of the other ones that will never close, anyway."

" I tell them that if they can say it backward in their sleep, they will be able to say it forward in front of a customer at the right moment. And if they do say it forward every time, I'll pay them $500,000 a year. And a couple of them actually do it. Everybody else has to settle for less. Some, a lot less."

Anybody interested in making $500,000 a year in sales? I've got Dennis' phone number in my address book. Let me hear you say " That with ahead, go to like you would."

Have a wonderful week selling. And have some fun along the way.

Sales Tip and Practice:Have Your Closing Language Down Cold

Practice the exact language of your close using a microcassette tape recorder 10 times a day for the next 10 days and listen to it afterward. If you don't have set language but use different words (or no consistent closing language every time, then start with " Would you like to go ahead with that?" Write it into your daily calendar as an important action every day for the next 10 days. Be courageous and begin using this phrase with customers after day 5. Courage and discipline win.

Copyright 1998 Mentor Associates Inc.