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Closing Time

As a young man growing up in Ireland, it was not at all abnormal to socialize in the local Public House. For those on this side of the pond, this would be better known as the Pub. Everyone I knew had their local, as it was known. This establishment was a close-by, favorite spot to meet with friends and have a few pints, Irish speak for drinks. Strict laws governed when a pub could open and when it had to serve its last drink. It has since changed a little bit, but in my time, the last drink during the week was 11:30 PM and 10:00 PM on a Sunday. It was as if the publicans did not want to be blamed for anyone missing work the next day for indulging in too much to drink the night before. This was especially true for Sunday night when you had to get up bright and early on Monday morning. My intake was more limited because of the price, where at two pounds fifty pence, it was more like drinking gold than beer back in those days.


A characteristic of a night in the Pub was the sound of the bartender shouting at the top of their lungs that the time had come to drink up. “Have you no homes to go to?” they would say. Occasionally, they would resort to telling the revelers that the Police or “The Guards,” as they are known there, were outside and would be in to take us to jail if we did not drink up and move on. Little did I realize then that these bartenders were not only closing the Pub but trying to close me as well. Their tactics were coarse but somewhat effective.


Recently, I was conducting sales training for a group, and we were talking about the subject of closing a sale. I asked the team what their biggest fear was in closing. Was it going in for the kill too fast? Was it failing to see and hear the buy signs and missing the close entirely? Was it that asking for the business was a little too cliched? The group was divided on their response, probably because there is no normal situation when it comes to closing a sale. Don’t get me wrong; closing can be kind of natural for those who have an innate ability for this skill. We in sales have even developed a name for these folks called “The Closer.” Some organizations use closers to advance their products in very subtle ways, and others not so much. Have you ever dealt with someone selling a Timeshare?


The reality for me is that closing should be the next step of the process if we have done everything else correctly in the sales cycle. Closing cannot come before prospecting; why? Because it just would not make any sense. We first identify our suspect and then work to create a prospect by uncovering a need. If we have a solution that fits that need and the financial exchange for solving that need is acceptable, then and only then can we move to close our sales process. I know my description here is basic, but I think you get the picture.

For many products sold, there is a natural jumping-off point to close. Once a salesperson completes their discovery, they can usually advance to a demonstration of a product or a presentation that is a solution matched to the needs of the client. Every product and sales organization will have different procedures, meetings, and protocols to get this done. There is no doubt that to have sustained success in sales, we have to have a sales process. Those who generally follow a sales process are more likely to succeed, in my opinion. During that process, skilled salespeople are trial closing their audience to build a crescendo of support to skillfully get to a close of the sale at the jumping-off point. Using phrases like, “Good so far?” or “Do you see where this solution might benefit your organization?” are examples of trial closes that can be attempted along the way.


At a future point, the jumping-off process should become clear to us. We have followed our process, with a more than adequate discovery phase. We have transitioned then or at another time to our presentation of our solution or demo of our product, and gauged consensus along the way that we are on track. We have handled objections as they arose, summarizing and confirming to address each issue. All that remains for us to do as salespeople is to close the deal. When that natural jumping-off point occurs, we skillfully transition to the final phase. We might utter something like:


“So, can we discuss the next steps?” or “Are you ready to move forward with the process?”


We wait, and that uncomfortable silence builds. Stay silent. You have done your part. Let the prospect answer no matter how long it takes or how uncomfortable it may seem. The end will justify the means. So, unlike the Irish bartender, you don’t have to shout at the top of your lungs to get the sale closed. You will use a little silence and save your voice to celebrate with that drink you can have after you make the sale. Congratulations!



Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at roger@guide2interchange.com.


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