A-B-C Always Be Closing

Made famous – or infamous – by Alec Baldwin in the classic sales film “Glengarry Glen Ross”. It is associated with the hard sell, aggressive style of the stereotype snake-oil salesman. Sure, closing is important but an obsession with closing didn’t fit with my consultative sales style.

Until the light came on.

Another sales mantra I have picked up from several methodologies is the “Up-front Contract”. Put the two together and bingo, you are unstoppable. President’s Club here we come.

OK, let’s roll back a bit.

The Up-front Contract is where you the sales person agree with the prospect in advance that you will do something, and in return they will do something for you. On a cold call this could go like this.

“Many of our customers are in the same industry as you. They have been able to expand their business with our xxx services, but I’m not sure whether xxx would be right for you. Would you be able to give me two minutes of your time on this call so I can ask you a few questions, then we can agree if it is something worth investigating further?” That’s an Up-front Contract – you give me two minutes and I give you a reason to say go ahead or go away.

It’s also a close. You have just closed on the first step of the journey towards the sale.

If you create an Up-front Contract for every step of the sales cycle, you progressively gain more and more commitment from the prospect so the final order close is a very small step for them to take.

Following on from our cold call:

“OK so we agree that this is worth looking into further. If I come down to your plant and have a look at your requirements, will you arrange for the factory manager and plant engineer to meet with me and show me their operations?”

“That was a very informative visit, thank you. I’ll need to run through some numbers but I think we can come up with some significant savings. If I do that, can we meet with the production director and CFO to go through the return on investment?”

“So we are agreed that that this looks like a viable project. If I put together a formal proposal, can you arrange a meeting with the directors so we can go through it and answer any questions?”

And finally: “So we are all in agreement that this is the right solution for your company.” Go for a direct close, why not. “Can we have your agreement to proceed with the installation?”

That final close was actually the fifth close (in reality, there were probably more). Always Be Closing, all the way through the sale. Always close against an Up-front Contract, to make it a two-way engagement. That’s the way to make closing a painless experience for everyone.

Neville Merritt