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You owe it to your customers to close

At a networking breakfast this morning I told the group at my table a short story about one of my clients. Like many professionals, he hates to sell. I observed one of his sales meetings, at his invitation, and I was shocked to see him go all the way through flawlessly, explaining his unique value propositions, clearly differentiating himself from his competitors, and using all the NLP skills I'd taught him to get the prospect to the brink of signing, and then he opened his mouth and uttered that awful, awful phrase "well, I expect you want to take this all away and think about it".

At a networking breakfast this morning I told the group at my table a short story about one of my clients. Like many professionals, he hates to sell. I observed one of his sales meetings, at his invitation, and I was shocked to see him go all the way through flawlessly, explaining his unique value propositions, clearly differentiating himself from his competitors, and using all the NLP skills I'd taught him to get the prospect to the brink of signing, and then he opened his mouth and uttered that awful, awful phrase "well, I expect you want to take this all away and think about it".

The prospect actually did a second take. For a moment he stared quizzically, his jaw dropped, then almost automatically he repeated "yes, I'll think about it." In an instant, the spell was broken. And he never did come back.

In the debrief, I tackled my client – let's call him Peter – about his performance and he admitted that he almost always ends his meetings like that. Or with "I'm sure you have to discuss this with your partner/finance manager/cat/whatever". Or any one of dozens of other evasion techniques. Anything rather than ask for the business.

As I told the story this morning I noticed some of my companions give a sheepish smile. Others suddenly became fascinated by the pattern on the tablecloth and other similar distractions. I'd struck a raw nerve. The reality is, many people in business are afraid to ask for the sale. We don't want to seem pushy, or aggressive, and heaven forbid that the other person should think that we only wanted to meet them so that we could sell to them!

We all know someone like Peter, so I'll tell you what I told Peter, just in case you have a "friend" who suffers from the same fear.

If you truly believe that the other person needs your product or service (notice that is needs, not wants) and if you also believe with all your heart that what you are offering is the best in its class (and if you don't then you have other more pressing problems than a fear of closing!) then you are failing in your duty to your prospect when you don't close the deal.

If you let them walk out and buy from your competitors, then by definition they will be getting second best – yours is best, isn't it?

If you let them walk away and they never get round to thinking about your offering or anyone else's, then they have a need that isn't being met – they need what you're selling, don't they?

Either way – second best, or unmet need – that prospect is not getting the best service and advice that they could from you unless you put everything into helping them understand why they should buy from you and you actually follow through and get them to buy.

That one realisation has already taken Peter from making the sale once in every ten or so sales meetings to sealing the deal once in every three times. What impact would it have on YOUR business if you could make three times as many sales without having to make any more sales calls than you already do? Thank about that.

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