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Why Closing Efforts Fail

There are two main reasons why commitment efforts fail.

  1. The salesperson doesn’t really make an effort.
  2. When an effort is made the approach is incorrect or counter-productive.

The Bigger Problem

Why Closing Efforts Fail

In our previous article we discussed that the problem of not asking for any commitment is much bigger than asking in the wrong way.  The percentage of encounters where salespeople and professionals never ask for any form of commitment ranges from 50% to 90%. And the average across industries seems to be about 60%.  These and other revealing statistics can be found in the special report: THE 7 DEADLY MYTHS OF CLOSING And the Statistical Truth That Will Improve Your Sales.

Will & Skill

In management parlance we often refer to these two reasons as “Will” and “Skill”.  That is they either don’t have the “will” or desire to ask for a commitment, or they don’t have the “skill” to ask for a commitment.  They don’t know how.

Of these two, managers prefer to see “skill” as the main problem because it is usually a simple matter to remedy by providing training. On the other hand, “will” or a reluctance to initiate the skill is seen by most managers as a much bigger challenge because it makes the skill irrelevant. In fact, many managers are of the opinion that “will” issues cannot be corrected. They argue that while a skill can be trained, reluctance to initiate a skill is a motivational issue and a personality attribute which cannot be learned.

I disagree. In my experience, the key to addressing any kind of reluctance is to address the underlying issues and beliefs that are the source of the reluctance. A paradigm shift in these underlying issues can make the reluctance disappear.

When it comes specifically to closing business I have discovered that reluctance is a symptom of fear or occasionally, shame.  That is:

  • The professional fears being pushy.
  • The professional fears being humiliated.
  • The professional fears being under-prepared.
  • The professional fears losing a closed sale.
  • The professional is ashamed to be in sales.

All of these underlying issues can be addressed by helping professionals discover:

  1. By placing a little thought into the way we ask, we can advance the sale without being pushy.
  2. By crafting questions that make replies predictable, we eliminate risk of humiliation.
  3. By keeping our questions simple and facilitative, there is no need to over-prepare.
  4. By using an ingeniously designed query, each reply will advance the sale.
  5. Lastly, and probably most importantly, selling is service. By selling with pure intent, sales becomes a noble profession not worthy of shame.

In my experience helping professionals discover these truths typically addresses both the “will” and the “skill” challenge.  The key is two-fold then:  First, uncover the underlying issue or belief that is the source of the reluctance and second, invest the small amount of time required to craft commitment questions that address these underlying challenges.

The good news is that the investment of time is a short one and once underlying issues are accurately addressed behavior changes almost immediately.

CLOSING TIP – Addressing the underlying issues with reluctance addresses closing fear.


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