Prospects prefer an ally over an adversary. They want more listening and less talking. And they deserve service over manipulation.

Have you ever asked yourself what your customers think about closing questions?

The fact is, they think about it less than you might imagine they do.

Many buyers would not even be sure what you are referring to, given that “closing” has several definitions, depending on context.

On the other hand, what might they think about the idea of gaining agreement?

Prospects prefer an ally over an adversary. They want more listening and less talking. And they deserve service over manipulation.

By the way, “how” customers feel about your closing questions depends largely on their relationship with you. Their perspective has everything to do with their perception of your motives.

A good friend tells this story about her recent car-buying episode:

  • At the very beginning of our car hunt, we visited two dealerships. The salesperson at the first one was strikingly young. (We later found out he had worked there less than a year.) Youth aside, he did more listening than talking at that initial visit and he was completely likable.
  • At the next dealership we visited, the salesperson who approached us was significantly older and more experienced… and it showed, in the worst of ways. He knew barely anything about us or what we were looking for before he was hardcore closing us on a model we had already mentioned we couldn’t afford.
  • He went on to give us a pitch about a car someone had just returned to the dealership, offering us a “today only” price if we would buy it right then and there. It was clear he couldn’t care less about us, and focused only on moving merchandise.
  • In the end, we bought a car from the young, inexperienced salesperson who actually listened to us!

How to Be Appropriately Assertive Instead of Harshly Hardcore

The problem for too many salespeople is that they see closing questions as negative. In their minds, they must behave callously and obnoxiously to claim the title of “hardcore closer”.

Somehow these sales professionals confuse being harshly hardcore with being appropriately assertive. This thinking needs to change.

Assertiveness can be a great thing. IF it is in the best interest of the customer.

My son, Kevin, had a difficult time deciding where to go to college. He was torn, and the deadline was fast approaching.

One night at the dinner table, I did him a favor.

I said, “Kevin, I’m going to press you on this. Tomorrow night when we sit down for dinner, I want you to announce to the family where you are going to college. You have 24 hours to make your choice. Got it? Pass the potatoes.”

Think about that for a moment – was that closing question assertive? Aggressive, even?

I pressed Kevin for a firm answer and I gave him a firm deadline. I would call that assertive behavior on my part.

But the more important question is this: Was it an APPROPRIATE closing question?

In this case, yes. And why? Because the closing question was in Kevin’s best interest.

By requiring him to make a choice, I freed him up to choose because I knew he absolutely needed to do so and that he would benefit from having made the decision.

Closing questions always come down to a question of motive. HOW you ask is secondary… WHY you ask is what really matters.

Are you asking for you or for them?

The next night when Kevin sat down at the table, I said, “Well? Where are you going to college?”

He looked at me and then announced: “I’m going to Azusa Pacific University.”

I said, “Just curious… when did you make that decision?”

“Just this very minute,” he replied.

Do you sometimes find yourself conflicted about the way you approach your closing questions?

Then it’s time to understand whether you are closing for YOUR benefit or for your CUSTOMER’S benefit?

How would this change of perspective change your approach? And how could it help you change someone’s world?


About the author

Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore, founder and president of Shore Consulting, Inc., is a highly sought-after sales…

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