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I often discuss the importance of not selling against an ideal solution, but selling against the best available alternative (BAA). That is a conversation that typically happens at closing time in the sales process, and when I cover this subject, it often leads to a lot of questions and emails about closing techniques, and how to roll the BAA concept into a closing technique.

I need to fully confess up front that I’m not a huge believer in “closing” techniques. I realize that may seem like sales blasphemy to some of you. After all, “Ask for the order” is something that has probably been beaten into you since your very first day in sales. “We need closers!” screams out sales leadership. Good people know how to close the sale, right? “The coffee, after all, is for closers!”

I actually take a serious issue with that approach. There is an important distinction between moving the sale to a close, and “closing” someone. I strongly believe that if you have to “ask for the order” or “close” someone, then you didn’t do your job correctly during the prospecting, discovery and presenting phases. A well sold customer does not need to be closed. They close themselves.

People buy for their reasons, not yours. If you have to ask them to buy, or somehow close/trick them to buy, then you’ve ultimately failed to get them to realize one or both of two things:

1 – Their current status quo of either not buying this product or buying it from someone else is a situation they need to change. (there is a problem/pain)

2 – The other options out there are not as good as your solution. (You have the best solution to that problem/pain)

Sales comes down to helping a prospect disqualify your solution as not viable for them, or qualify it as the best solution they are aware of. It is that simple. Not easy, but simple.

Your sales process, from the initial prospecting contact to needs assessment to the bid/proposal needs to be built in a way that allows a prospect to come to that conclusion. 

That is really where the “closing” happens. Inside your process of qualifying and/or disqualifying a prospect’s needs is found all the motivation for them to take action. Ideally, by the time you present, you are merely filling in the blanks of how you plan on accomplishing something your prospect has already decided they want “the HOW of the conversation. You’ve already covered the WHAT and WHY leading up to the presentation. 

Again, resorting to pressure or begging for the business at the end of the sales conversation means you didn’t do your job correctly. Properly qualified prospects don’t need to be closed. They are ready to buy!

I will go even farther and state that “closing” techniques is what gives the sales profession a bad name. As the great author Jeffery Gittomer says, “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy”.

No, the coffee isn’t for closers. Unless you change the definition of closing to mean running a thorough disqualification/qualification binary process from the cold call to the invoice