Close Doors, Not Sales

Recently, I was asked to provide my thoughts on salespeople and the requirement that they “ask for the business” as a closing technique. I’ve always taken issue with this approach. Maybe in the 1960s or 1970s, people were different and enjoyed being asked what it would take to get their business. I doubt it, but I wasn’t old enough at the time to have experienced it.

To me, sales has never been about closing. It is about formulating a mutually beneficial relationship between two entities, a consumer and a supplier. The old school of thought is that the consumer evaluates the product and decides if they want to buy it. The sales person tries to persuade the consumer to buy their product, applies pressure techniques, and keeps their fingers crossed.

The new school of thought is different. Yes, the consumer is evaluating the product, but the best salespeople are evaluating the consumer to see if this is someone with whom they desire to do business. Look, not every consumer has business you desire. The check may clear the bank, but what if the consumer’s needs don’t fit the supplier’s business model? Pain for all involved. The short-sighted “close the business” philosophy becomes excruciating as the consumer tortures the supplier to perform at levels it cannot.

Thus, the role of the salesperson really is to guide the buying process such that it helps both sides determine if it makes sense to do business together. It doesn’t matter if you are a company-employed salesperson or an independent agent. The role remains the same. Very simply, the salesperson’s job is to compare the wants, needs, and desires of the consumer with the capabilities of the supplier. Hopefully, there is a synergy and a business relationship is established.

Not sure about you, but I don’t appreciate being asked the old closing questions. Years ago, Seinfeld mocked those questions in a car dealership episode involving David Putty and Elaine. “What do I need to do to get the two of you in a relationship today?” How many of you would be married if your spouse asked you that question?

The bottom line is no one likes to be sold so let’s not create an environment where closing is part of it. If you have done your job correctly, the relationship comes together naturally.