The Dreaded Close

When I received the call from the RAB’s John Potter asking me to speak along with seven other sales trainers at this year’s NAB Radio Show, I was excited to participate.

The topic is “The Sales Cycle.” Awesome! That’s a subject that we handle every day at P1 Learning. I asked John what segment he would like me to tackle. How about the C.N.A.?  I love the process.  Or maybe you’d like me to discuss writing a well-crafted sales proposal? Also a personal favorite! But no, all of those subjects had been spoken for and would be handled by other trainers with names like Taz, Guld, Luce, and Lontos.

OK, John, what do you have for me?  His response?  Wait for it…  “Well Speed,” (you could hear the hesitation in his voice) “I had you slated for the objections and closing.”  Are you kidding me?  Not the close! Whenever I hear the word “close” it brings to mind a myriad of images including Alec Baldwin’s “coffee is for closers” scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, or Ben Affleck’s “act as if” speech in Boiler Room, or freshman year American Lit class with “Death of a Salesman” leading the semester’s reading list. All are great entertainment, but I wouldn’t suggest using them as a recruitment tool for your next opening in the sales department.

Amazing that even after thirty plus years in an industry that I love and that has served me well, I along with most sellers, still have trouble tackling the topic of the dreaded close. We all talk a big game, we all love to pontificate on that great sale that we “closed” with our dazzling charm and well-communicated plan. But deep down inside, every time we ask for the order, we hold our breath and briefly look skyward with a quick and silent prayer.

After the hyperventilating stopped (I’m not sure if John was able to detect it by phone), I was finally able to put the topic back into perspective. Remember that selling is nothing more than a process, a series of steps that include:

  • Identifying the customer’s needs
  • Fulfilling those needs with a well-reasoned and executed plan

So logically if steps one and two are performed correctly the close is merely the next logical step in the process. We are simply there to confirm and set a start date. OK, maybe that was a bit oversimplified.

I’m happy to say that I just put the finishing touches on my RAB presentation and PowerPoint deck. I’ve got a tweak or two to perform before heading to next month’s conference, but I’m ready to go.  If you are planning on attending this year’s NAB Radio Show in Orlando, the session will be on Friday morning. Let me know, and I’ll save you a chair and grab you a pastry. But don’t expect coffee! Coffee is for closers.

Until next time, good selling!

Speed