September 13, 2012

If you have been selling for many years, the following will probably be old hat to you. However, if you have recently joined the sales profession, or you are a veteran who needs to improve his closing percentage, then the following will be one of the most important sales closing techniques you will ever learn. It is so important, in fact, that any corporate sales training program that does not mention it is probably not a very good program at all.

The technique is simply to be silent immediately after asking a closing question. Every single time. It’s a rule that should never be broken, unless the buyer in front of you is suddenly beset with a grave illness of some sort.

Why does this rule exist — and why is this technique so effective?

Buyers buy emotionally, not logically

For the typical buyer, signing on the dotted line is a very scary proposition. There are too many unknown factors: will they be ripped off, are they overpaying, can they get better service elsewhere, will buying from you have negative unintended consequences, etc.? This applies even if they are not using their own money, as in the case of a buyer for a corporation. Committing will possibly open up a universe of hurt in their world, especially if they have made decisions to buy in the past that did not end well.

Buyers, therefore, usually want to stall for as long as possible, especially if they were solicited rather than shopping on their own initiative. For this reason, corporate sales training should teach salespeople to avoid giving buyers any reasons to stall, and that includes not speaking during the close.

Ask the question — then say nothing

After the question is asked, the buyer starts thinking. Any speech here interrupts their thinking, pulls them out of the decision-making process, and basically offers them an “out” from buying. You might even inadvertently hand them objections they hadn’t thought of before.


Salesperson: “If we can get you the product in green, are you prepared to move forward?”

Buyer: (silent)

Salesperson: (fretting) “What else do you need to make a decision? Do you need a longer warranty?”

Buyer: “Hey, that’s right, we didn’t talk about the warranty. My current vendor offers a lifetime warranty, so what do you guys offer?”

Salesperson: (gulps, as his firm only offers three years) “Well, umm…”

There are basically three responses you will get once you ask a closing question:

• “Yes.” Immediately push the pen and paper over for them to sign the agreement.

• “No, because…” The buyer has most likely just given you the real WHY, the true objection he wouldn’t give up before until the buying pressure was brought to bear with the closing question. Handle the objection, then reclose.

• “No.” Probe to find the objection which needs to be addresses, and reclose.

In any event, if the buyer reveals a real valid obstacle rather than a simple stall, back off and work out a plan for handling the obstacle and reschedule. Don’t badger a buyer who has valid reasons not to buy at this time, as it can backfire with a cancellation and poor word of mouth.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, or have attended one of our corporate sales training programs, you will know as gospel that the consultative sales process requires salespeople to practice more silence during their sales calls. As can be seen above, nowhere is this more important than after a closing question has been asked.