SALES

The 5 Worst Closing Techniques

Make sure you're not guilty of using these out-dated (and completely useless) methods for closing a big deal.
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When you're trying to sell something, the worst thing you can do is sound like you’re trying to sell something.
Unfortunately, people new to selling (perhaps because you’ve been building a new business) often try to execute simplistic sales techniques that buyers can spot a mile away. For example, the worst sales advice in the world is also the most common: "A.B.C. -- Always Be Closing." Customers hate it when sellers hammer away at them, trying to close a deal. Nothing creates resistance faster than the old hard-sell.

Similarly, there are five "closing" techniques, all of which are still widely taught today in sales seminars, and all of which are guaranteed to annoy the bejeezus out of your customers. Here they are, in all their awful glory:

Lame Technique #1: The Assumptive Close

Definition: You ask the customer to make a meaningless decision that assumes that the full buying decision has been made.
Example: "Do you want that in the hunter green or the hunter orange?"
Expected Outcome: The customer states a preference and you ask him to sign on the dotted line.
Actual Outcome: The customer looks at you like you’re out of your mind and says: "I didn’t say I was going to buy anything."

Lame Technique #2: The Flyfish Close

Definition: Your promise something valuable then take it away if a decision isn’t made now.
Example: "We have a special offer – a 15 percent discount – but only if you decide to buy now."
Expected Outcome: The customer says: "Wow! I better buy now!  Where do I sign!"
Actual Outcome: The customer says: "You must think I’m a complete idiot who thinks he can’t get that discount, or a better one, if I hold out for a while."

Lame Technique #3: The Puppy-Dog Close

Definition: You let the customer try the product for free in the hopes the customer will fall in love with it.
Example: "We’ll give you the product free for your evaluation and only charge you if you don’t return it."
Expected Outcome: The customer loves the product and never thinks to return it.
Actual Outcome: The customer uses the product for the trial period, returns it, then gets your competitor to give them another trial period, and so forth.

Lame Technique #4: The Reverse Close

Definition: You ask a customer who’s saying "no" a question intended to elicit a "no" that actually means "yes."
Example: "Is there any reason that you wouldn’t do business with our company?"
Expected Outcome: The customer says "no" and you say "Great! Sign on the bottom line."
Actual Outcome: The customer says "yes!" and says that he’d never do business with somebody who’d try such a patently ridiculous ploy.

Lame Technique #5: The Yes Man Close

Definition: You ask a series of questions that naturally elicit a "yes" answer, building momentum to get the final yes.
Example: "Do you expect first rate service?" "Do you believe that you deserve the best?" "Do you always try to find the best value?" "Are you going to take this opportunity to get the best value and best service?"
Expected Outcome: The customer says the final "YES" and signs the contract.
Actual Outcome: The customer throws you out of the office for wasting her time with ridiculous leading questions.

In tomorrow’s column I’ll explain a much more effective way of closing... without dumb tricks.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 14, 2011

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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