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Our last two blogs discussed issue resolution, first, stressing the basic concept— identifying and satisfying the client’s underlying need (rather than rebutting the objection) ­.  Next, we explored the “reframing“ technique— where the salesperson paraphrases the objection as its underlying need, and gets client confirmation before going on to address it.  This week, we’ll examine closing the sale: its basic process is essentially the same, whether or not the client has raised objections to our recommendation

Countless selling skills books have been written about the art of closing the sale.  Many of them treat closing as stand-alone, memorized and rehearsed techniques or devices— connectable to but distinct from this particular client’s needs and business situation. (Even so, in certain situations, they can sometimes work.) 

The Baron Group believes that the closure should be a natural, follow-on outcome from the client/salesperson dialog which preceded it.   

  • If the client had no objections or reservations of any kind about our recommendation, isn’t it fair to assume that he/she is ready to commit?
  • If the client did have objections that were genuinely and completely resolved, the consultative salesperson then gives him/her an opportunity to volunteer other concerns­— the “Asking For Others” step.  If none is forthcoming, isn’t it now fair to assume that she/he is ready to commit? 

This process is call an “assumptive close,” because the salesperson’s “due diligence” in the previous needs-analysis and/or objection resolution gives him/her every right to believe that the client wants to buy.  (If the salesperson isn’t reasonably confident, then ethical issues enter the picture and, pragmatically, the likelihood of closing the sale greatly decreases, too.) 

The beauty of the assumptive close is that it takes the pressure off both the salesperson and the client

  • Often, even the confident salesperson feels the pressure of asking for the big “yes,” fearing rejection, or looking too aggressive, or an unwelcome and surprising negative response.
  • Sometimes, even a client who is fully ready to buy can be anxious about saying the words that confirm commitment and launch the project— especially if it’s a big, costly undertaking. 

The assumptive close either softens the question, or avoids asking it entirely.  Here are just a few examples of assumptive closure statements and questions; some are more direct than others.  “Sounds like we’re ready to proceed.”  “Are we ready to move forward?”  “Here’s what we need to do to make it happen.”  “What’s the next step to get things started?” “  “Are you comfortable with pursuing this?”  “We’re eager to start the process…” etc. 

In the rare event that the client unexpectedly does push back, it’s time for (more?) issue resolution: explore the details of the objection, determine the underlying need and paraphrase it to the client’s satisfaction; address it, and move to closure again.  Just make sure that closing isn’t any harder than it has to be. 

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