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Why the 'hard close' isn't working

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The salesperson was struggling to “close” his prospect’s business. The presentation went well, and the prospect understood the value of the solution. But at the end of the call, when the sales person asked his prospect to buy, the client hedged. “I’d like to think it over,” he said. “Can you get back to me next week?”

The salesperson’s manager insisted that his team push hard to close. The salesperson, doing what he was directed to do, pushed the prospect. He said, “You need this. Your business needs this. If you don’t do this now, you know you never will. What credit card are you going to put this on?”

That failed, and he tried again with even more aggressive language.

The last thing the salesperson heard was the sound of his proactive client hanging up.

How to lose a deal

The sales manager is wrong. However, he’s not wrong for directing that his salespeople ask for the business at the end of their presentation. He is wrong in believing that the hard close is the right strategy for winning business.

  • Attempting to push the prospect into buying screams “self-orientation.” This approach ensures that the prospect knows that this deal is all about the salesperson and their company and that it has very little to do with serving the prospect or their needs. The sales manager is trying to use a sledgehammer to turn a doorknob: You may get the door open, but you’ll break it in the process.

  • Equally important, ignoring a prospect’s real needs is no way to win customers. The prospect isn’t ready to buy because he has concerns. The client may be concerned about spending the money. The person may not be sure the product has value. The prospect may want to know what his (or her) partner is going to say. Whatever that prospect’s concern, it is real.

No one needs time to make a better decision. What people often need is more information. Pretending that the prospect’s concerns aren’t real or that it isn’t your job to resolve those concerns is one way to alienate would-be clients, while ensuring that they tell everyone they know that your name belongs right behind Hitler’s, Stalin’s and Mao’s.

Not liked or trusted

No one has to buy from you. Prospects can always buy from someone they know, like and trust. It’s a poor strategy to make people know they don’t like or trust you.

Force is the choice of those who are truly weak. Influence is the choice of the powerful.

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