Advanced Sales Closing Strategies

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These closes are a bit trickier to apply than the basic or intermediate closes. They require more setup time or a willingness to push the prospect a little harder. But when used wisely, they can seal the deal with prospects who otherwise wouldn't buy from you.

Remember, if the prospect is really difficult for you to close, that's a benefit for you in the long term... because people who are tough for you to close are also tough for your competitors to sell to!

So once you do manage to close a tough cookie customer, they will probably stay with you for quite a while.

The Hero Close

For this close, we are indebted to sales guru Tom Hopkins. In his book Selling for Dummies, he describes this as the “higher authority close.” It's designed for business-to-business sales, although I suppose you could develop a variant for consumer sales too.

First, you identify a satisfied customer who also happens to be a successful and well-known member of the business community. When you call to check up with that customer and make sure everything is OK with the product, ask if he or she would be willing to tell the occasional prospect how good the product is. If they seem to be wavering, assure them you won't ask for their help often—just on rare occasions—and you'll always warn them ahead of time when you might want their help. If they agree to help, follow up with a heartfelt thank-you note and possibly a small gift.

Then the next time you've got an appointment with a really big prospect, and they state their objection (e.g. the time it will take to learn a new system), say something like:

“You know, George Smith, the owner of Parallux, uses this same product. Would you mind if I gave him a call now and we asked him about his experiences with the setup process? I recall he had a similar concern before he started using the product.”

Then call Mr. Smith, make a brief introduction and hand the phone to the prospect. (You know Mr. Smith will be there because you called him right after making the appointment to ask, and gave him the exact time.) If you pick the right “hero” customer, this close will knock your prospect's socks off.

The Sour-Grapes Close

Not for the faint of heart, this close requires perfect delivery or it could backfire on you. But if you pull it off it will close a sale that is otherwise not going to happen.

When your prospect sits through your presentation in grim silence (usually with their arms crossed), it's a pretty clear indicator that they aren't going to buy the product but don't want to tell you why. Perhaps they've heard some horror stories about your company. Or maybe you walked in with a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth and lost the prospect instantly.

Persistence on your part will either get you a flat “no” or the infamous “I'll think about it.” Before you hit that point, but after it's clear the conversation is headed that way, say something like:

“I'm afraid I've made a mistake in coming here today. I apologize for wasting your time, but I don't think this product is right for you.”

Then start packing up your things, shake the prospect's hand and head out the door. If you've read the person correctly, snatching away the product can jolt them into at least thinking about buying it. If not, you just threw away a sale. That's why this particular close is not for the inexperienced salesperson!