Time for Closing Arguments

In case you have been vacationing in a cave, there has been a controversial trial taking place in Manhattan and earlier this week, the Jury heard closing arguments. In a jury trial, closing arguments can take several hours or even days!

You would think that Closing Arguments would have much in common with the Closing Competency in sales but in reality, Closing Arguments have more in common with the Presentation Approach Competency. The Presentation Approach Competency is about presenting the right ideas, to the right people, for the right reasons at the right time.  The Closing Argument is a summary of facts, evidence, theory and innuendo, all supporting the side (prosecution or defense) the attorney represents.  So if the Closing Argument is similar to Presentation Approach, then what does the Closing Competency have to do with closing?

In jury trials, Closing Arguments position the team for a favorable verdict.  It’s a presentation and close in one.  And then the jurors have to think it over.  A salesperson’s nightmare!

In sales, Closing is traditionally an event where the salesperson asks for the business, but most salespeople either don’t ask, or put too much pressure on the prospect and push them away.  For context, there is no sales competency in which salespeople consistently score any lower than the Closing competency.  According to statistics from Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments of more than 2.5 million salespeople, just 5% of all salespeople possess the Closing Competency as a strength with an average score (out of 100 possible points) of only 28.

Are the best salespeople any better at closing than the worst salespeople?  Of course. And while the gap is considerable, a much smaller percentage of top salespeople have the Closer Competency as a strength than with the other 21 Sales Core Competencies.  18% of the top 10% have the Closing Competency as a strength while only 1% – that’s right – 1% of the bottom half of all salespeople have it as a strength.  Top salespeople are 1800% stronger than the least effective salespeople.

But closing is overrated.

In the sales process, there are six tactical Sales Core Competencies used prior to closing.  Of greater significance, the salespeople who are strong in these competencies don’t really experience a closing event.  Prospects simply buy from them as a logical outcome of their conversations.  The six competencies include:

  • Sales Process
  • Reaching Decision Makers
  • Building Relationships
  • Consultative Seller
  • Value Seller
  • Qualifier

Salespeople who are not strong in those six Sales Core Competencies find themselves having to proactively or forcibly close the business.  Most salespeople aren’t comfortable with either proactively or forcibly closing so they overcompensate by being passive at closing time, and quickly move into follow up mode where, instead of applying pressure, they become annoying.

When companies recognize that too many opportunities are stalled in their pipeline, many want to train their salespeople on closing skills.  Since that is a complete waste of time and money, companies should instead examine the root cause of the problem and most often, their salespeople need help with the six competencies I listed earlier.

I can promise you this.  When salespeople master the abilities to meet and build relationships with decision makers, use a consultative approach to uncover their compelling reasons to buy, sell their personal value for differentiation, and throughly qualify, win rates will go from too low to hello!

Image copyright 123RF