The Big Ask: Closing a Sale

A couple of years ago, I attended a sales training with a DJ-turned-motivational speaker. I can safely say that it wasn’t the best. One memorable thing that happened that day was having to put on a jumpsuit filled with balloons that made me look like the grapes from the Fruit of the Loom gang (and yes, pictures exist). The other was an impossibly long list of “closes” we could use with our prospects and clients. This list of 150 (seriously!) closing styles included such beauties as “the Puppy Dog Close” and “the Reverse Close.”

sold-sign-white-background (2)I’m not a big fan of gimmicks. I think that if you treat a customer with respect, listen well to their needs, and propose something that meets those needs, you’re not going to need to trick them into buying. I like a straightforward approach in which you put the “big ask” on them. Simply ask for the sale.

Some of the common phrases I use include these:

So, what do you think? Are you ready to move forward?

Is this something you’re going to want to do?

I think this is a great idea for you, and I’d love to get you signed up.


Asking for the sale can be a scary thing for a salesperson. It’s the moment when the tension in the room rises. I’ve known some salespeople who get too nervous to actually ask for the yes. It’s like they’re waiting for the fish to jump into the boat. But the reality is that successful salespeople must be willing to take a deep breath and ask for the client to make a decision.


Here are 4 things I try to do every time that I’m asking for someone’s business:


Advocate for a Solution

I wrote a few weeks ago about how important it is to connect the solution dots for your clients. When it comes time to close the deal, recap those solutions. “You said that you had this particular need. The roadmap that we’ve put together addresses those and gets you to where you need to go.” If I view myself as a consultant who is offering my clients the best customized solutions, I don’t have to ever worry about needing to use silly or sleazy salesman techniques. If I’ve offered them a meaningful solution, I can expect either a completed sale or a really good reason why now isn’t the time for them to go forward.


Manufacture Urgency

Customers don’t buy because they don’t have a sense of urgency. If they are putting you off, it’s likely because you haven’t connected the dots of how your offering is going to make an immediate difference for them. If you’re caught in the limbo of waiting for answer, figure out if you need to circle back to why this matters now.

I’m not a fan of lying to clients, and yet there are ways to manufacture urgency. For instance, put an expiration date on your offer. It will subtly suggest, all on its own, that the price may go up if they wait. Or, can you create some kind of limited availability? People don’t like to miss out on something.

Maybe the best way to manufacture urgency is to pitch your idea to several people at once. Know your closing ratio. If it takes four presentations to get one yes, make sure that you’ve pitched the idea to four good prospects. Then, when they are all in the decision-making process, you can honestly say, “There are three others considering this. If you’re interested, you’ll need to act first.” I’m also fond of saying, “I have nine colleagues who are all out pitching this idea right now. I think it’s great for you and want to get you signed up before someone else takes it.” But be honest. If you lie to manufacture urgency, in time, your clients will think of you as the salesperson who cried “wolf.” They’ll tune you out because they’ll learn that they can’t believe you.


Be Quiet

When you’ve made your case and made the big ask, especially if you’re sitting across a desk from the client, be quiet and let them think and speak. Don’t feel like you need to fill up the silence with talking. Don’t think that you need to mention a bunch more products and features. If it feels awkward or tense, that’s OK. It is tense for the client to make a big buying decision. The worst thing you can do is keep talking and inadvertently talk them out of the sale.  Be quiet. When they’re ready, they will either say “yes” or they will tell you why they’re hesitating. Listen carefully so that you can clearly understand their objections and overcome them.


Follow Up

Several months ago, I had a client tell me that he reached out to me and three of my competitors. I was the only one who responded. I wish I could say that this is uncommon, but studies have shown that a lot of salespeople simply don’t do normal follow-up. In fact, one study says that 80% of sales happen in the 5th-12th connection between a salesperson and a prospect. But, only 12% of salespeople contact their prospects more than 5 times. They simply give up too soon. Be the 12%.


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Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a tech tip about email newsletters that will help you increase your closing ratio.



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