Obviously, if you don’t close deals, you aren’t going to make any money. But here's the thing: Today’s buyers are simply too sophisticated to fall for the carnival barker stuff that (maybe) worked back in the 1930s.

How, then, do you close the deal?  Here are five easy-to-follow rules.

RULE #1: Treat closing as a process.  Depending on the product or service being offered, a sale may come after a single meeting or it may come after a series of meetings and negotiations.  In many cases, "closing" means moving the sales process to the next step, so be patient.

RULE #2: Set an appropriate closing objective.  Whenever you meet with a customer, set a specific and aggressive closing objective.  Not some touchy-feely nonsense like "build a better relationship," but something that can be measured, like "get a map of the decision-making process" or "write the order."

RULE #3: Let each close emerge from the conversation.  Stop thinking about closing as a dramatic point where you "ask for the business."  Instead, ask question that clarify the situation and confirm that what you’re selling matches what the customer needs.  Examples: "How does that sound to you?" "What do you think about that?" "What timeframe would you need for delivery?"

RULE #4: Wait for the right moment.  If you’ve had a productive dialog and you’ve checked to be sure that the customer is ready to buy then ask. Just do it. Don’t let your fear of losing the sale keep you from making the sale.

RULE #5. Celebrate your chutzpah.  Whether you successfully close or just get shot down, remember that the only real failure is the failure to try. Fill your days with victories, small and large, and you'll have more confidence -- and be that much more effective... next time you close.

The above is based upon a conversation with the absolutely brilliant Linda Richardson, founder of the sales training firm Richardson.