b'FINAL THOUGHTSTHE CHALLENGE OF CLOSING SALESMany times, customers walk away without buying because salespeople are too afraid to ask for the sale. BY PETER SMITHE rnest Hemingway once said, Theconnection until the conversation fizzles tofavors when they add layers of complexity to hard part about writing a novel isan awkward and unsatisfactory conclusion.closing sales. finishing it.Yet another reason, and one I suspect isEffective persuasion leverages the custom-He might as well have been talking aboutat the root of the problem more often thaners inherent needs and wants. If you have closing sales, which, in all too many cases, re- not, is the salesperson is not equipped toasked the right questions, and really listened to sembles a mystery wrapped in a conundrum.deal with the rejection that can result fromthe customer, you ought to be able to link your The celebrated sales guru Brian Tracy hasexpressly asking for the sale.solution to the needs expressed or inferred. been quoted as saying, Fully 50 percent ofWhile top sales performers dont takeBe honest about the options you believe all sales conversations end without the sales- rejection personally and are more inclined tomight be best, and the options you dont person asking for the sale.see it as a temporary occurrence, a necessarythink make sense and why. Its OK to say, Yet, as Jeb Blount, another sales guru, hasbyproduct of their profession, weaker sales- Based on what you told me, Im not sure pointed out, Customers say yes about 70 per- people see acustomers no as a personalabout that one and heres why. cent of the time when a salesperson asks foraffront, as though they themselves wereSpeak positively throughout the interac-the sale in an assertive and confident manner. being rejected.tion, but dont pepper every sentence with If Tracy and Blounts estimates are evenhyperbole and false positivity unless you close, it is evident a considerable gap existswant your customer to see you less as a trust-between the customers willingness to make aCustomerswant ed partner and more as a deceptive peddler.a salesperson purchase and the degree to which the salesper- to take controlThey rely onKnow that persuasion is not controlled by son helps them to do so by requesting the close.capable sales professionals tothe rational brain, but by the primal brain. The Cynics argue that if a salesperson warmlybest evidence is the number of times we see top engages the customer, provides answers tolead them to a place that inspiressalespeople close a sale without having beaten the customers questions, and demonstratesthem to make a purchase. the customer into submission with unnecessary good product knowledge, then the customerPeter Smith product information and irrelevant facts. surely will make the purchase, regardless ofWe have all marveled at how easy closing whether the close was requested or not.seems to be for top sales talent. Sometimes it That argument holds no water for me as IThe easiest remedy for a salesperson withis no more complicated than, I love how it have never, in the entire course of my career,little resilience is to avoid asking for the sale al- looks on you. You deserve that. met a cynic who was also a top salesperson.together, to convince themselves the customerIn The Sales Professionals Playbook, The most talented salespeople may not fixwill tell you if they are ready to buy.Nathan Jamail wrote, Closing a sale is the showcases after they have been throughBut customers want a salesperson to takestraightforward, and like most things in sales, them, many struggle crossing ts and dottingcontrol. They visit stores to have competentit is a simple concept, but not necessarily easy is, but none are cynics.salespeople satisfy their needs.to do. We dont want to be pushy, yet at the Being optimistic is, unsurprisingly, a crit- Sometimes, customers can articulatesame time we need to ask for the business. ical element in the toolbox of professionalthose needs, but more often they rely onDo everyone a favor and ask for the salespeople.capable sales professionals to lead them to abusiness. Most top performers genuinely believeplace that inspires them to confidently makeIt is, after all, the whole point of why what they do improves the quality of life fora purchase. stores exist. their customers and, thankfully, wont hearIn You Have More Influence Than You anything to the contrary.Think, Vanessa Bohns wrote, Our expecta- PETER SMITH is an industry Some salespeople dont close sales becausetions of how others are likely to respond toconsultant, speaker, and sales they dont want to make the customer feelour pitches and pleas are based on our owntrainer. He is the author of three uncomfortable, as if their coming into the jew- assumptions about their motivations andbooks (Hiring Squirrels, Sell elry store was an unfortunate accident, some- feelingsassumptions that are often inaccu- Something, and The Sales thing that ought to be avoided at all costs.rate, but about which we feel confident.Minute) and a columnist for Instead, those salespeople parse outSalespeople do themselves, their placesNational Jeweler. He can be reached at product information in lieu of real emotionalof employment, and their customers noTheRetailSmiths@gmail.com or 617-308-1580. 76 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2023'