If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means – ask! — W. Clement Stone
Despite tons of attention and ideas on various closing techniques that sales professionals can use to encourage prospects to buy, one of the biggest mistakes people make today is failing to close at the end of their presentations.
After giving a presentation that is not only informative but persuasive as well, why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by not closing? Perhaps it is because we mistake a “conclusion” for a “close”. A conclusion is a wrap-up, usually a summary- an end to what we have been discussing. A close employs the specific call to action. The close tells our listeners what we want them to do next with the information we have given them. What is your goal? What do you want them to do as a result of hearing this message?
In my training workshops, we ask participants to deliver an entire sales presentation from start to finish. The overriding realization once we go through the playback on videotape is that many people do not close-they just wrap it up, and that’s it. They never ask their listener or prospect to “do” anything, like buy their product or service, or work specifically with them, or even set up the next appointment time. This is exactly what not to do, but it is an extremely common problem and accounts for the millions of dollars in lost sales every year.
The problem some people have with closing relates to the tendency to be too informative rather than persuasive. If you don’t build a strong enough case, then you are going to have problems getting your listeners to act. Perhaps you tried to close after giving merely an informative presentation and were unsuccessful. That may be because you didn’t build a strong enough case in the first place. Based on what you have learned so far, let’s assume your presentation is well constructed and persuasive. But having a great presentation isn’t enough. You are still going to have to ask your listeners to move forward. Once you have built your case, you must ask them to take an action step.
We might ask ourselves, “Why don’t people ask for such an action step more often?” One of the leading reasons is that they fear rejection. The fear of rejection makes closing uncomfortable, so they just “skip” doing it. It feels like you are setting yourself up to take a fall. But all you really are asking for is a commitment from your listener. There is something about human nature where people may very well do what they are asked, but if it is a little uncomfortable, like parting with their hard-earned money, they likely won’t do anything until they are asked.
The reluctance to close is seen throughout the business world with significant consequences. Sometimes even in interoffice meetings, when we are required to get together to discuss certain things that are happening, many of the meetings end up being informational…and there is work to be done! What’s sad is that there frequently are no action steps as a result of the internal meeting. That is why it takes so much longer to get things done. A good recommendation would be that the close for an interoffice meeting is to ask: What are the action steps we must take? What do we want to happen as a result of this meeting? Who’s going to do it, and by what goal date?
Whether you are in an interview and asking for a job, an interoffice presentation where you need to call for an action step as a result of the meeting, or a traditional sale with a potential prospect, the point is you have to close. Give yourself permission to ask the listener to do something at the end of every presentation. Do it gracefully and with your own personal style and flair…but do it! Trust me, it’s an integral part of completing a persuasive presentation and you might realize just how easy it really is and how incredible the rewards can be!