Closing Deals: Do the Old Ways Still Get the Yes?

Pros and Cons

In my first of these occasional posts, I talked about how we were taught sales "tricks" back when I trained as a computer salesman in the 1970s—tricks like "accidentally" leaving your hat behind in the prospect’s office, so you had a reason to return.

That was far from the only one. Here are some others.


Get your prospect into thinking positively by asking him (or her) questions that he/she can only answer “yes” to. The thinking behind that particular little ruse was that, when you got round to asking for the order, the prospect would have got so used to saying “yes” that “yes” would be his automatic response.


Another favorite was lists. You’d reached something of an impasse in the closing cycle, with the prospect struggling to make up his/her mind. So you’d say: “OK, why don’t we look at this objectively? Let’s make a list of all the reasons you should go ahead and sign—and all the reasons you shouldn’t. You can decide based on whichever is the longer list.”

So you’d work with the prospect to create a list of why he/she should go ahead. Of course, you’d be very active (having prepared well beforehand, of course) in helping create the longest possible list of reasons why the prospect should place the order. But then, when it came to the list of reasons why not—you would, of course, subtly offer much less help. Done right, this would leave a very long list of pluses—and a very small list of minuses. No one wants to appear illogical—and faced with what looked like overwhelming evidence in favor of signing, that’s what the prospect would ideally do.

Painting a picture

Yet another was to get the prospect imagining what it would be like once he had ordered your computer. You’d help him paint a picture in his own mind of the personal benefits that would accrue: kudos in the eyes of management, more free time to spend with the family, the satisfaction of a job well done and so on. It’s an extension of the "assumed close" in which you’ve moved on in the deal cycle past the point of ordering—although the order hasn’t actually been placed—such that placing the order has now become a given, and the prospect is imagining what it will do for him/her.

What it will do for him/her, of course, is all about "benefits"—and that will be the subject of another occasional post.

I look back now at some of the things I was taught in sales training school, and can’t help but die a little inside. And yet…In theory, these were well-proven approaches to securing sales, tried and tested many times. What I’ve also come to realize, over time, is that sales skills aren’t only valuable for closing orders—they can also be of great value in your personal life. Think about it: whenever you’re trying to persuade or convince someone to do something, you’re "selling" them. 

Think of sales skills as an aid to helping you get your own way…

Ian McMurray

Ian McMurray started his 40-year career in the technology industry back when 4K wasn’t the latest TV resolution — it was as much memory as you needed to write a complete, integrated accounting system for a computer. He started life as a mainframe salesman but eventually succumbed to the lure of marketing, and has since held a variety of European and worldwide marketing management positions, as well as occasional forays into sales training and development. He’s now the PR guy for Abaco Systems, and is based in Towcester, England.

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