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 was a close-by, favorite spot to meet with friends and have a few pints, Irish speak for drinks. Strict laws were governing 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 the next day's work for indulging with too much to drink the night before. This was especially true for Sunday night when you had to get up on Monday morning bright and early. For me, 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.


Characteristic of every night in the Pub was the sound of the barman, shouting at the top of his 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 barmen in only wanting to go home were not only closing the pub but trying to close me as well. Their tactics were course but somewhat effective.


This week I was conducting sales training for a group and we were talking about the subject of closing a sale. I had asked the question of the team as to 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 for many closings can be kind of natural for those that 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. Ever deal with someone selling a Timeshare?


The reality for me is that closing should be the next step part of the process if we have done everything else correctly in the sales cycle. Closing cannot come before prospecting, why? Well because it just would not make any sense. We first identify our prospect where we then work to create a suspect by uncovering a need. If we have a solution that fits that need and the financial exchange for solving that need are 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, protocols to get this done. There is no doubt though that to have sustained success in sales we have to have a sales process, those that 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 be a benefit to your organization?” are examples of trial closes that can be attempted along the way.


At a further 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 along the way to address each issue. All that remains for us as salespeople are to close the deal. When that natural jumping-off point occurs, we skillfully transition to the final phase. We might utter something like this.


“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 barman, you don’t have to shout at the top of your lungs to get the sale closed, you will use a little silence to 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 $200 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 the 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 Guide2Interchange@gmail.com


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