Better Ways to Close Deals

Wrapping up the Sales Process

How many closes do you know? Just about every sales course puts the emphasis on closing. Many sales courses exhort the ‘ABC’ of closing, ‘Always Be Closing’.

In our opinion, most of these closes were never effective and many of them were downright counterproductive, with people having heard these ingenuous ploys so often that they were offended the sales person thought them so naïve as to be taken in by them!

Even the “puppy dog” close has lost its punch, with people now quite happy to take your expensive car out of the lot and use it for the weekend, bringing it back Monday with a “no thanks” and no guilt whatsoever!

That attitude to closing, and those techniques, are simply more and more ineffective as time goes on. It’s time for some new closes, but remember, unless you have genuine rapport with your client, unless you have thoroughly and carefully elicited your client’s values and buying strategies, even these new closes will not be as effective as they could!

So when you think about “always be closing” in light of that, how much credence can you give that attitude! If we followed ABC, we wouldn’t even know what we were closing! In contrast, if we’ve done our job correctly we have:

1. Ensured we have excellent rapport

2. Asked intelligent questions to accurately identify the client’s problem (used to be called a “need” but that term is far too wishy washy to have the clout to cause someone to make a purchase!)

3. Asked intelligent questions to identify the thinking styles underneath the client’s strategies to solve the problem (what sensory representational system/s are they operating with, what meta-programs are they operating with, what are the higher values that are driving their behaviour)

4. Asked intelligent questions which have fully dealt with any objections or limitations they may have voiced or non-verbally indicated (meta-model and meta-programs)

If we’ve done all of that, there is literally no need to close because the client is closing himself/herself. We’re now there only to notice (calibrate) the buying signal and allow the client to buy.

Nevertheless, the client can be helped to do this more smoothly through the use of directive language.

Now I must tell you that directive language (also called "embedded commands") is very powerful and manipulative. Certainly you can actually, quite often, get people to do things that benefit you rather than them. And you might be tempted to start thinking in terms of manipulating people, or having power over people.

I strongly urge you to maintain an ethical approach: although directive language is certainly that powerful, to use that type of technique in an attempt to manipulate, immediately pulls you out of any rapport state you may have created with your client. What happens next for the client is usually quite unconscious. He or she becomes aware that “something is not right”. They can’t quite put their finger on it, but they have a sense of disquiet. They may very well go on and complete the deal, but I’ll tell you what -- you probably won’t get another deal from this person, and it is even less likely they will ever refer you to a friend or colleague.

Never, ever use directive language for your own advantage. Use it only for the advantage of the client when he or she has indicated, verbally or non-verbally that it is time to buy, or that they really want to buy.

A Further Explanation of Directive Language

All of us use directive language all of the time. We use the term specifically to refer to a directive pattern of speech “hidden” within a communication. Although it is “hidden” from the conscious awareness of the listener, nevertheless it is not hidden from the subconscious, and the subconscious often responds to this type of language very obediently.

Unfortunately much of the directive language which we already use is quite negative:

Teacher: “Now don’t FORGET TO BRING YOUR BOOK TOMORROW!” (most of the class forgets)

Mother: “Be careful Johnny or you’ll DROP THAT!” (Johnny starts to falter)

Me: “Don’t THINK OF A BLUE ELEPHANT.” (how can you not!?)

Positive directive language would be much more effective:

Teacher: “Now REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR BOOK TOMORROW!” (most of the class remember)

Mother: “Be careful Johnny and KEEP THAT VERY BALANCED!” (Johnny stays on track)

Me: “Can you IMAGINE A BLUE GIRAFFE?” (a blue elephant probably did not come to mind)

Why is it so? It is not possible to understand the first three examples without imagining forgetting, or dropping, or thinking of a blue elephant. In the second three examples, it is not possible to understand them without thinking of remembering, or of keeping balanced, and you certainly wouldn’t have thought of an elephant when I asked about a giraffe!

Our actions tend to follow wherever the mind is pointing. Remember when you were learning to drive a car, and developing a sense of just where you were in relation to the centre line and the edge of the road? If you were focussed on the edge, the car would seem to veer towards it, and if you were focussed on the centre line the car would similarly veer towards that! The only way to keep steady on the road was to line up with a point other than the edge or the centre line and keep your focus there.

Now that you know what directive language is, what language would you like to direct your client’s mind (and signing hand) toward? How about these:

Take it today

Make this yours today

List with me

Take delivery of this product

Engage our services

Make a commitment today

Join our program

Work with us

Have us handle this for you

Choose which model

Enjoy using this product

Endorse this proposal

Etc, etc, etc

It is easy to mark out such commands by pausing in your speech before and after the command, and using command tonality (lower your voice towards the end of the command). If you’re not quite sure what I mean, trying saying these out loud to someone else:

“Mary, do you like ice-cream?”

“Mary, give Bill that message.” (as an order)

If you’re like most people, your voice would have an upward inflection for the question (higher pitch for the “ice-cream”) while it would have lowered for “message”. (Unless you’re a Queenslander and make every sentence sound like a question!)

This lowering of tone at the end of a sentence signifies a “command” and is therefore called “command tonality”. Unconsciously, we respond to the tonality rather than to the words. That’s why “Mary, will you give Bill that message.” even though it has the structure of a question, is understood, and usually acted upon, as a command.

You can have some fun practising this with your partner or children:

Freddy, could you MAKE ME A CUP OF COFFEE because I’m incredibly thirsty.

Mary, I wonder if you could TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE, NOW because I just realised it’s full.

By nesting the directive in a sentence structure, it tends to be absorbed and acted upon quite readily.

Case Study:

Joan is very overweight, and has inquired about our weight loss program. We’ve thanked Joan for coming in, and have taken time to get into rapport with her so that there’s a good level of trust and communication. We now ask Joan the 3 magic questions I’ve talked about in another article:

What’s important to you about …?

And what does that give you?

And what does that mean to you?

Consultant: Joan, we find that people generally do best on our program when they’re losing weight for a reason that’s meaningful to them personally, rather than doing it just because they’ve been told they should. Would you mind sharing with me what’s important to you about losing weight?

Joan: Well I really want to fit back into my clothes again. I have the most gorgeous clothes in my wardrobe and I want to be able to wear them again. I guess that’s the main reason I want to do it, but I really want to be able to enjoy playing with my grandchildren. That’s very important to me too.

Consultant: And if you could fit back into those gorgeous clothes again, and be able to enjoy playing with your grandchildren, what does that give you, Joan?

Joan: I’d have a sense of real satisfaction, I guess, and achievement, and I’d feel that I really belong in the family and are part of it because I can join in.

Consultant: It’s so important to get that satisfaction and achievement, and to feel like you belong, isn’t it. I think we all need that very much. If you had all that, the satisfaction, the sense of achievement and belonging, what would that mean to you, Joan?

Joan: Really, that’s happiness, isn’t it. I think really that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

Now when it’s appropriate to bring the consultation to a close, we replay Joan’s own language, using her own meta-programs, to ask Joan to commit to our program. In reality, we would have gone through the same process in relation to the way Joan wanted to lose weight as well (eg, “Joan, what’s important to you about the way you lose weight?”) to ensure that we can provide Joan with what she really wants.

Here is how we would wrap up using the information provided:

“Joan, you’ve told me that it’s important to you to lose weight so that you can fit into those gorgeous clothes in your wardrobe, and also so you can play with your grandchildren and actually enjoy it. You’ve explained that that would give you a sense of real satisfaction and achievement and a feeling that you really belong in the family and are part of it. If you did decide to JOIN OUR PROGRAM TODAY, JOAN, that would mean that you could start losing that weight right away, and when you MAKE THIS PROGRAM YOURS, NOW, you’ll enjoy being able to look in the mirror and SEE YOURSELF IN THOSE GORGEOUS CLOTHES AGAIN. It’s especially important, Joan, to MAKE A COMMITMENT TODAY because after all Joan, as you say, this is really what life is all about, isn’t it, Joan. Let’s ENDORSE THIS AGREEMENT NOW, shall we, so you can GET STARTED RIGHT AWAY.”

Notice we’ve replayed Joan’s words, and we’ve mirrored back her “towards” meta-program. If we had started talking about how if Joan didn’t join today she’d end up doing nothing and then she’d never lose weight, we would have mismatched her thinking style and her motivation style. Or if we tried to increase her pain in other ways by really getting into how she didn’t want to miss this chance to get back into those old clothes, or that if she didn’t lose weight she’d miss out on time with her grandchildren, the whole thing could backfire because in this example Joan had told us nothing that would lead us to suspect she is motivated by pain!

Better Ways to Close Sales

A close is not a magic wand, it is merely a way of “wrapping up” a quality communication with your client.

Here are some quality ways to “wrap up” that don’t need to wait until the end of the discussion. Use them whenever your new calibration skills tell you the client is ready to buy. (If you use them before you have that signal, or before you’ve done a thorough and professional investigation of what your client actually wants, or, worst case scenario, before you even have rapport, these techniques may still work, but that’s called manipulation and will leave a very nasty taste in your client’s mouth. That is not the way to build client relationships that lead to more business and rivers of referrals. Play the game cleanly or it will come back and bite you!)

The Summary Close

This close is based very soundly on the criteria elicitation process outlined in our advanced sales training. In this close we firstly remind the client why he/she decided to meet us and the challenge or problem we have been discussing. We turn the decision to solve the challenge or problem into directive language. We then replay the values and other criteria the client has shared with us. We then ask for the sale in a very particular way, with directive language, and end with yet more directive language.

1 Remind your client why you got together. “Charles, you came in today because you’ve decided it’s time to UPGRADE TO A NEW CAR.”

2 Remind your client of the purchasing criteria (values) you elicited, in terms of their unique meta-programs. “You’ve explained to me that it’s important that the car reflects the image you want to portray in order to send the right messages to both your employer and your clients. It needs to be powerful, with a unique profile that is nevertheless not ‘flashy’. When your employer and your clients SEE YOU IN THIS CAR, that car will say ‘success’ and is in that way a tool or even an investment in your career. In addition, this is a car your family will love, your wife and children will feel really excited about. It has the power and comfort required to take you on those driving holidays you’ve wanted to do for so long. This is a car that brings real bonuses to your life, including perfect balance between work and family.” (Be careful here to feed back strictly what the client has shared regarding his/her values and purchasing criteria, and in the client’s own words, not yours!)

3 Tell your client to purchase. “Charles, I want you to TAKE THIS CAR TODAY” (pause),” for all the obvious reasons.” (Gesture broadly, palms facing upwards.)

4 Ask for agreement. “Shall we, …. GET THIS WRAPPED UP NOW.”

The More You X the More You Y

This is a handy close that creates a “cause-effect” link in the client’s mind.

For instance, the more you read this, the more you’ll agree this is a great close. The more you sit there, reading this page, the more you feel excited about what will come next. And really, the more you disagree with me, the more you’ll realize that I’m right after all. You get it?

Let’s see how this might work with Sam, whom we’re selling sales training to:

Sam, just take a look at these statistics of all past graduates’ results. Even with nil results for 5 of these people, the overall sales, per participant, are an average of 598%! Sure, some people won’t use it and will continue to struggle, but those who do more than make up for it.

The more you look at these solid results, the more you’ll be convinced that it’s time to SEND ALL YOUR STAFF ON THIS PROGRAM, because even if you have people who end up refusing to use it, you can HAVE CONFIDENCE that overall, you’ll ENJOY INCREASED SALES of at least 500% in total.

The more you EXAMINE THESE FIGURES, the more you’ll REALISE THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. With an average lead time of 3 months from appraisal to sale, don’t you think we should JUST GET STARTED?

This pattern, ‘the more you X the more you Y’ can be used at various times during your presentation to the client. For example when mentioning a strong selling point:

This insulation will save you $580 a year on your heating bills. The more you think about that, the more you see the importance of getting this installed right away.

For example, when addressing an objection or obstacle:

Client: I can’t afford it.

Sales Professional: The more you do the figures, the more you understand how economical the new model is compared to the cost of keeping that old car on the road.

The Power of ‘Because’

Once upon a time some researchers tried an interesting experiment involving attempting to queue jump at a photocopy machine at a university library.

Firstly the experimenter merely asked “Can I get in front of you please?” Not surprisingly, there was a massive rejection of this request!

Next the experimenter asked “Can I get in front of you please because I only have a few sheets?” Over 70% of the time the person said yes!

Finally the experimenter asked “Can I get in front of you please because I have some photocopying to do?” Over 70% of the time the person said yes.

‘Because’ does such a good job at implying a reason that we don’t even need to add any more information. Notice where I wrote above:

The more you look at these solid results, the more you’ll be convinced that it’s time to GET ALL YOUR STAFF ON THIS PROGRAM, because even if you have people who end up refusing to use it, you can HAVE CONFIDENCE that overall, you’ll ENJOY INCREASED SALES of at least 500% in total.

Use ‘because’ every chance you get because that will certainly help your sales to grow! If you’d like help with better, more effective ways to close, make sure you check out the free professional development forums on (just click on "Take Me to My Speed Business Network and you'll see that in fact there's a vast array of business development tools waiting for you, mostly completely and utterly free).


Christine Sutherland is an Australian entrepreneur, clinical researcher, author and trainer, and the founder of My Speed Business Network, an interactive business community with a vast array of free business development resources. Her NLP Training is legendary!

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