Customer Management: Closing Techniques – How to Close More Sales

Become a sales closing Ninja.

1-2-3 close


Summarize in sets of three items. We will give you this, that and the other.

This may be features of the product, benefits or add-on sweetener items.

There are two ways to do this: they may either be closely related (to reinforce a single point) or may be quite separate (to gain greater coverage).

Most customers want products that are free, perfect and available now. This is the classic business measurement trilogy of cost, quality and time.


This product is cheaper, faster and more reliable than the competition.
The houses here are better-looking, better-built and better-equipped than those on the other development.
If you buy today, we will give you insurance, tax and a full tank of fuel.

How it works

The 1-2-3 Close works through the principle of triples, a curious pattern where three things given together act as a coherent set of three hammer-blows that give a compelling message.

Adjournment Close


Do not go for the sale now. Give them time to think.
Tell them that they probably need time to consider the offer you have made.

Use this when:

  • You can see that they are not going to decide now.
  • You have set up enough tension that you are reasonably convinced that they will indeed seriously consider the deal and are likely to come back.
  • Given some more time, it is likely that they will buy more (for example if they are at the edge of a budgetary period and their current funds are low).
  • The relationship is important to you, and them making a wrong decision now would affect the chances of making sales in the future.
  • You do not need to make the sale today (for example you have made your quota and this sale would be just fine for next month).
  • Combine this with setting up the next meeting, when perhaps you will be able to solidly close the deal.


This is an important decision for you and I think you need time to consider how important it is. Shall we discuss the details further next time I see you?

I can see you’re thinking very carefully about this. Shall I come back next week to see how you are progressing then?

How it works

In many sales situations the relationship is very important as the sales person will be going back to the customer with more sales to make. It is thus a bad idea to push them into a decision when they are not ready and may later be unhappy about this.

Offering an adjournment can be a nice surprise for the customer, who may be expecting a harder style of selling. This sets up an exchange tension, encouraging them to pay back your offer of time with later agreeing to the deal.

The Adjournment Close is particularly easy to manage when the sales person visits the customer, as opposed to having to hope that they will call back.

Affordable Close


Close out any objections they have about price by making sure they can afford it.

Find how much they can afford. Then show that you have a finance plan that fits their capability to pay.

Bring in other factors to reframe the real price, such as lifetime costs.

Show the price of not buying – for example the cost of continued ownership of the current car.

Strip down what is being sold to the bare minimum. Remove all the options (and maybe sell them as separate items).

Sell them something else they can afford.

Last option: bring your price down to what they are prepared to pay.

And always remember the caveat: do not close people into debt they will not be able to repay.


How much per month can you afford…yes, we can make a deal for that…

The initial costs seems high, but by the end of the year you will have recouped the costs.

The basic model will fit into your price range.

The maintenance costs on this are very low.

The cost per page of this printer is the lowest in class.

If we can bring the price down to what you say, will you buy today?

How it works

The Affordable Close works by structuring the finance of the deal to fit into the other person’s ability to pay.

‘I can’t afford it’ is often more of an excuse than a real objection. If they really do not want to buy, you will find that they will immediately jump onto another objection.

Alternative Close


The alternative close works by offering more than one clearly defined alternative to the customer.

The number of alternative should be very few – two or three is often quite adequate. If you offer too many alternatives, the customer will then be faced with a more complex problem of how they choose between the many alternatives offered.

Note that this technique works well in many different situations where you are seeking agreement, and not just selling products.


Would you prefer the red one or the yellow one?

Would you like one packet or two?

Which of these three instruments seems best for you?

Shall we meet next week or the week after?

How it works

The Alternative Close is a variant on the broader-based Assumptive Close and works primarily through the assumption principle, where you act as if the customer has already decided to buy, and the only question left is which of a limited number of options they should choose.

Assumptive Close


Act as if the other person has made the decision already.

Turn the focus of the conversation towards the next level of questions, such as how many they want, when they want it delivered, what size they need, and so on.


When shall we deliver it to you?

What will your friends say when they see it?

Will 20 cases be enough?

Where will you put it?

How it works

The Assumptive Close works by the Assumption principle, where acting confidently as if something is true makes it difficult for the other person to deny this. For them to say you are wrong would be to cast themselves as an antisocial naysayer.

Note: This is one of the most common closes used. Many other closes, such as the Alternative Close are variants of the Assumptive Close.

Best-time Close


When people are procrastinating or will ‘be back’, emphasise how now is the best time to buy. All sales people know that ‘there are no bebacks’.

Invoke seasonal effects, such a Summer, Christmas and other holidays.

Remind them of other short-term reasons, including sales, weather, and so on.

Find out other personal reasons why it is good to buy now, such as their partner’s birthday, etc.

You can even do a reversal on ‘never the best time to buy’ by showing how this makes now as good a time as any.


We only bring these into stock for the Christmas season.

Summer is coming. Do you have all the garden furniture you need?

The forecast for next week is for sun. We have limited stocks of sun lotion.

The best time to buy is now, whilst…

There is no ‘best time to buy’ which makes now the best time.

If you were going to start saving money, when would you start?

How it works

The Best-time Close works by emphasising how now is the best time to buy and how delaying is not the best thing to do.

Bonus Close


When they are dithering close to a decision, offer them something unexpected and un-asked for that delights them.

All it needs to do is make them say ‘Ooh, that’s nice’. Or something like that.

A simple equation: delight = expectation + 1

Try and figure them out before using this close: for some people it will open them up again as they seek to gain more concessions.


You know, I’ve had a good day and am going to give you batteries for free.

Hold onto your money: I’m going to add an extra towel to the pile.

Well, you’re a good customer so I won’t charge for delivery.

How it works

The Bonus Close may work in several ways. First, the bonus is a temptation that

When they emotionally close on the bonus, the sensation of closure may also leak across to the main subject.

When they feel they have got something for nothing, they may agree to the deal for fear that you may take it away from them again.

You may also create a sense of exchange, where because you have given them something. The Bonus Close is also known as the Delighter Close or the Extra Close.

Bracket Close


Make the other person three offers.

First offer them something sumptuous and expensive that is beyond their budget. Not so far beyond them that they would not consider it. Ideally, it is something they would look at wistfully but just couldn’t justify (if they do, it is your lucky day!).

Secondly, offer them a solid good deal that is within their price bracket. It may not have all that they wanted, but it is clearly good value for them.

Finally, offer a severely cut-down deal in which very little of what they want is included. They should, of course, go for the middle option.


Well I can do you a full kitchen system with Neff units, brass tops and hand-cut ebony edging. It’s a bit pricey but is amazing quality.

A really good option is with Bosch units, hardwood tops and matching edging. This is remarkably good value.

If you are on a very tight budget, we do have some basic units, a nice laminate finish and matching surrounds.

How it works

The Bracket Close works by contrasting the preferred option both upwards and downwards. Rejecting the higher option lets the other person feel good about not spending too much. By comparison, the option they choose seems quite prudent and they may even feel they have saved some money.

Rejecting the lower option lets them feel they are not a cheapskate and can afford something of value.

Calendar Close


If they are not ready to close now, agree a future date when you can meet to discuss further. This at least keeps the deal alive and you return to fight another day. It may also be just what you are seeking to take you to the next step in the deal strategy.

Putting dates in the diary may also be an assumptive method, assuming that closure has taken place and that it is just a matter of when.


When shall we make the next coaching meeting?

Are you free next Wednesday at 3pm?

What new things shall we discuss next week?

How it works

Putting a date in the diary is easy for the other person, and may be agreed as an exchange for you not pressing further for a close now.

Dates in the diary also get them thinking about the future, which may be a good thing as this attention will then keep them engaged in your subject-matter.

Concession Close


Offer a concession of something they want in return for them buying the product.

You can be explicit about wanting an order in return for the concession or you can give the concession without asking – the other person will very likely still feel they owe you something for it.


If I reduce the price by 10%, will you take the product today?

Well, I think you deserve a free case with this.Listen, I’m going to throw in a free tank of fuel. If you are ready now, I’ll make sure it is delivered by the end of the day.

How it works

The Concession Close works by offering the other person something and either requesting or implicitly expecting something in return – usually the sale.

The Concession Close is also called the Trade-off Close.

Conditional Close


When the other person offers an objection, make it a condition of resolving their objection that they make the purchase.

You can also use this approach to make any trade – for example if you want them to watch a promotional video, offer a cup of coffee.

Always, by the way, phrase it in the form ‘If I…will you…’ rather than ‘Will you…if I…’. This is because our brains work very quickly and starting with ‘will you’ causes them to begin thinking immediately about objections and they may miss the exchange. On the other hand, starting with ‘If I…’ will cause psychological closure on what you are offering thus drawing them in to the close.


You say you want a red one. If I can phone up and get you one, will you take it today?

If we can figure out the finance for you, will you choose this one?

If I get you a cup of coffee, would you like to sit down and look through the brochure?

How it works

The Conditional Close uses the Exchange principle to build a social agreement that if I solve your problem, you will buy the product in return.

Demonstration Close


If you are able to, do a spectacular demonstration of your product that really makes them ‘wow’.

If you can’t do it with them there (which is by far and away the best), then use a video or otherwise add impact.

Give them a go. Let them try and find out for themselves.


I sell bullet-proof vests. Let me demonstrate…

You won’t believe this. I didn’t either when I first saw it. Just watch…

How it works

The Demonstration Close works by giving them evidence that they cannot deny. The visceral experience of sensing a product being used cannot be beaten by talk or even explicit pictures.

It is particularly effective if they have already predicted that your demonstration will not work as, being forced to revise a prediction they will also have to revise the beliefs on which it was based.

Economic close


Focus on the overall economic situation, showing how the cost is less by considering certain factors.

Show how buying a larger quantity gives volume discounts, reducing the unit cost.

Show how buying alternatives has hidden costs.

Structure deals for them that will cost less overall. Talk about the longer-term costs.


You get more for your money in the family-sized box.

Yes, it is cheaper in the next town, but it will cost you more in travel to get there. And you’ve already spent money to travel here.

You can buy on credit card, but our financing system has lower interest rates.

This model, sir, is much better value.

How it works

Many people focus solely on price, and this plays directly to their concern by showing you are trying to save them money. By doing this, you also gain trust and may be able to sell them more. Even those who are not so concerned about price will have it as an issue at some level, and again you will impress them by taking up this cause for them.

Emotion Close


Play to their emotions, deliberately evoking specific emotions.

Find if they respond more to positive or negative emotions and act accordingly.

If in doubt, go for positive emotions – these are usually better.


If you took this home now, how would you feel? Does holding that make you feel good? People who do not buy this invariably feel bad later.

How it works

The Emotion Close works because all decisions are based on emotions. Even if you go through a logical thought process, the final step is always emotional.

Empathy Close


Empathize with them. Feel what they feel. Walk a mile in their shoes. Understand their situation completely.

Then, when they are empathizing back, you decide like they would decide.

You can even talk about yourself, using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’.

Also empathize with the product you are selling and bring this into the equation. Be a match-maker in bringing this great product to a worthy customer.


I completely understand…and it makes so much sense to me to do this now.

You know, this solution works so well for me.

How it works

The Empathy Close works by first harmonizing yourself with them and then, when you feel what it is like for them to close, they naturally come along with you.

Done well, you will close at the exactly the right moment and for exactly the right reasons for them, and they will come back again and again.

The Empathy close is also called the Love Close.

If you love the product you are selling and love your customers, you will be a truly great salesperson.

Empty-offer Close


Make them a very kind offer that they cannot take up.

Offer to do something using a thing you have for sale, and which they might feasibly have but probably do not have.

Then sell them that thing. If they do have one, of course you must complete your offer with good grace – it will still help build social capital for you.


Shall I fit your spare wipers? … Oh, you have none. Well fortunately, we have some in stock…

Would you like to come to the race day … Oh of course, you’re busy.

Will you need help setting up the computer? … Oh yes, of course, your IT people will do that.

How it works

Although the Empty-offer Close does not require that you to giving them something, the rules of exchange means that they still feel that they owe you something in return for your generous offer.

Future Close


If they are not ready to close today, then close on a future date.

Perhaps they want to think it over. Ask how much time they need. Ask if they may be ready to buy then. After thinking about this, they may be ready to close now. If not, do a Calendar Close so you can meet up next time.


How much time do you need to think about it? … As you consider having thought about it now, what do you think?

When you have thought about it, do you think you may be ready to buy?

When we meet next week, will you have thought it through then?

How it works

The Future Close works by getting them to think in the present about the future, hence bringing the future to now so they can ‘compress time’ and possibly close now.

Golden Bridge Close


If you want a person to take a particular option, do not mention it directly, but show how all other options are not feasible or undesirable.

Then let them choose the option themselves.


Sorry, we’re out of that one…Oh that one is really expensive…And that one has got really bad reviews and I wouldn’t recommend it…

How it works

Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese General who wrote the classic text about winning wars without fighting, said ‘Build your enemies a golden bridge’. By this he mean you corner them, and then rather than fighting (whence they, having nothing to lose, would fight to the death), you back off a little and let them leave with dignity – just in the direction that you want them to go.

The Golden Bridge Close thus works by closing off all options except the one you want.

Handshake Close


As you make a closing offer, extend your hand for a handshake. Smile and nod as if the deal is done. Look expectantly. If necessary, raise your eyebrows slightly.


(Extending hand) So, are you ready now to do the deal today?

(Extending hand) We have a deal?

(Grasp their hand) Well done. You’ve got a good deal today.

How it works

When you offer your hand to somebody in greeting they will automatically feels obliged to shake your hand in return, often doing this without really thinking.

When they do shake your hand, they may realize that they are also agreeing to the close. Most people will not then feel able to retract their agreement.

Humour Close


Get them amused by telling a joke or otherwise making witty remarks. Then either go for a relaxed close with another closing technique or weave closure into the joke.

This is particularly useful when they are tense for some reason.

Beware of politically-incorrect humor unless you are sure it will be effective.

Self-deprecating humor is often a safe bet and shows you to be confident and likable.


This carpet was personally woven by the Queen of Sheba.

Oh go on. It’ll make both our wives very happy.

If you don’t buy this now, I’ll be told to go and stand in the corner!

I’d better not sit down in case the boss sees me.

How it works

Relaxed and happy people are less likely to object.

When you make someone laugh, they will like you more. And we are more likely to buy from people we like.

Hurry Close


Hurry them up. Speed up the proceedings.

Talk fast, move fast. Encourage them to do the same.

Hint (every so gently) that slower thinking is not very clever.

Say that if they cannot decide quickly then others might get the deal.


Yessir, thisisthebest.Theverybestyoucanget.

Absolutelydootley. If you can keep up with the Joneses you can keep up with the best deal. If you want to succeed you must speed, or others will get there first.

How it works

Speeding people up stops them from pausing to think about reasons why they should not buy.

IQ Close


Imply that intelligent people make this purchase. This is particularly useful in selling technology where people may shy away from the complexity. The intelligence can also be associated just with doing a good deal.

You can also imply that it is stupid not to buy.


I sold one of these to a doctor yesterday. This is a really clever solution.

It’s a bit complex, but you look like you can handle that sort of thing.

It would be stupid not to buy it at this price.

How it works

The IQ Close works by associating intelligence with closure. Thus, if people think they are intelligent (and we all do) they will be attracted towards purchasing the product and hence feeling that they are intelligent.

If the person has an avoidance preference, then implying they would be stupid not to buy makes them aim to avoid the stupidity.

Minor points close


Ask them about minor points, getting decisions on things they might consider if they were really going to buy the product.

Ask about size, shape, shade, delivery times, fitting options and so on.

Then go for the final close on purchase.


If you chose this one, which model would you prefer?

There are five shades available. Which do you like the best?

Do you have a click-fit system already? … Good, that will make it easy to install.

How it works

The customer knows they need to decide on many factors, and this complexity of decision may be holding them back. By getting the easier decisions out of the way, this greatly simplifies the final decision.

After several closures on minor points, the customer gets accustomed to the pleasure of feeling of closure. They can continue this by making the purchase.

Never-the-best-time Close


When people are procrastinating or dithering over whether they should buy now or buy later, show them that delaying will either get them no advantage or may even be to their disadvantage.

Talk about what they will miss by not having it over the coming period.

Give examples of people who waited for the best moment, which never came.


If you leave it until next year, you’ll have one year less to enjoy it.

The best time to buy is when you need it — which I’d say is now, wouldn’t you?
My friend spent his whole life looking for the perfect partner.

How it works

The Never-the-best-time Close works by reframing delaying tactics as value-destroying procrastination.

No-hassle Close


Make completing the deal so completely easy for them that any thought that might put them off is not there.

Fill in all forms for them. Do all the paperwork.

Include delivery, installation and setup.


I’ve filled in all the paperwork and all you need is to sign here.

It will be delivered Tuesday, when you are in, and fully installed by qualified fitters.

How it works

The No-hassle Close works by being so simple and easy for the other person that any anticipated difficulty or hassle that may be holding them back is blown away.

It also encourages them to return the favor as an exchange for your help with the completion.

Now-or-never Close


Make them an offer, but make it short-term to the point that they must choose to buy now. Thus they cannot come back tomorrow, when the price will be higher.

Show how this is the last day of the sale.

Say that you need to make your numbers by tomorrow so you are decreasing the price more than you would otherwise.


I should get approval to do this for a customer, but hey, my manager is out.

This is the last one on the sale. They have been selling so well.

If you sign today, I’ll give an extra 2% discount.

We are only in the area until the end of today.

Take it or leave it. This is your only chance.

How it works

The Now-or-never Close works by hurrying them up with a one-off deal. With less time to reflect or seek alternatives, they have to choose, and the thought of losing out will push them towards deciding now.

Ownership Close


Act as if they already own what is being sold. Talk about ‘your’ product and what they are going to do with it. Discuss how it already fits into their lives. Admire it.

Do not talk about whether they are ready to buy or have already bought it. Just act as if it has always been theirs.


Now where will you put your new wardrobe? What will people say about your car here?

What do you like most about your camera? You’ve got a really lovely picture here.

How it works

The Ownership Close uses the assumption principle, acting as if they already owned the product. This seeks to create mental closure on the principle of already owning it.

Price-promise Close


Promise a refund if they find the product elsewhere at a lower cost.

The refund can be the whole price (and you take back the product).

It is often the difference between the two prices, so they effectively get it at the lowest price.

Sometimes, for emphasis, it is ‘double the difference’ (although you have to be particularly careful with this, of course).

Put boundaries on the offer, for example ‘only valid for other shops in town’, ‘within the next two weeks’, ‘internet offers not valid’.


Never knowingly undersold. If you can find the same product cheaper locally, we’ll refund double the difference! Our price promise to you is…

How it works

Many people when they are buying fear finding somewhere else afterwards where the product is cheaper, and hence do not buy. The Price-promise Close eliminates this fear.

In practice, extremely few people take up on this type of offer, because the difference is small, they are embarrassed to ask for money back or the confidence it gives them actually stops them from looking at other prices!

Quality Close


Emphasize quality over other factors, particularly price.

Talk about how other people will be impressed by the quality of the product.

Talk about how quality products last longer, wear less, require less maintenance, etc.

‘Sell on Quality, not on Price’


For a one-off payment you get non-stop quality.

The quality of this shows really who you are.

This will last for ever.

Once you try this, you will never want another brand.

This product is far more reliable.

How it works

The Quality Close works by appealing either to the other person’s vanity or to their sense of longer-term value. For vanity, you are associating their identity with ‘quality’. For value, you are reframing price across time.

Repetition Close


Achieve the close by repeating a closing action several times.

Show them the product, then other products, then come back to the product, … and repeat this three or four times.

Tell them several reasons why they should buy.Ask several questions that remind them about the product.

Tell them about several different other people who bought the product.

When they refuse, go back to the product several times.


Look at this…you could try that…but this is good too…and another…but this…

I know you’re not going to buy, but I just want to show you one more thing…

How it works

The Repetition Close works because many people need to repeat things a few times before they ‘get it’. In a shoe shop, for example, they may have to pick up and put down a pair of shoes three times before they decide to buy.

Many people have a certain number of times they need to repeat things before they achieve personal closure. If you can find this number (often around three or four), then you know how many times to repeat your close.

Repetition is a very fundamental pattern that affects us in primal ways.

Standing-room-only Close


Show how other people are all queuing up to buy the product.

Indicate that the other people are known to or are like the other person.

Hint at how they may be left behind by others or even seen as slow and backward by not buying the product sooner.

Combine it with hints of scarcity, showing how the product is so popular you may run out soon.


I had six people in here yesterday and every one of them bought several of these.

Other departments are applying. I’d get my application in quick.

They are jumping off the shelves like hot cakes, sir.

I don’t know how many more people will be here tomorrow.

How it works

The Standing-room-only Close works by the Evidence principle, where the evidence of other people’s interest in the product socializes it.

It shows that the person is not an early adopter but runs the danger of being in the late majority or even seen as a laggard.

Summary Close


Summarize the list of benefits that the other person will receive, telling them the full extent of what they are getting for their money.

Make it sound impressive, using full phrases and attractive words.

Go into detail, separating out as many sub-items and features as you can.

But also fit the description into a reasonable space of time. You goal is to impress them with what they are getting, not to bore them with excessive detail.


So as well as the basic product, you are getting free delivery, a five-day exchange assurance plus our comprehensive guarantee.

This comes in an easy-carry box and includes a remote control, with batteries included, of course!

How it works

The Summary Close works by repeating what has already been agreed. Putting it all together makes it seem like an even bigger package.

Testimonial Close


Use a happy customer to convince the other person.

Show them letters from happy customers. Have the letters on the wall.

If you are using the name of the happy customer, make sure they agree to you doing this. Otherwise you will have to use an anonymous reference, such as ‘satisfied customer from Birmingham’ or ‘major airline’.

Persuade happy customers act as references, that the other person can either call up or they can visit. Reward the happy customer with appropriate thanks, which may range from a simple letter to a small present to a discount. Be very careful here to ensure the customer feels valued and does not feel they are being bribed.


I regularly receive letters from happy customers. Here are a few.

XYZ Corporation are regular customers.

We have several customers who are happy to act as reference sites for us. Would you like me to arrange a visit for you?

How it works

The Testimonial Close works by providing evidence from a credible source. If they do not trust you, they are much more likely to trust someone who is similar to them.

Treat Close


If you are selling something that you know they would like but cannot justify to themselves that they should buy it, then persuade them that they deserve a treat.

Point out how hard they have worked and that this would be a good reward.

Find out if they have given things to others. Point out that they need to be good to themselves as well.

Give them the excuse they need. Give them a reason they can tell themselves why it is a good thing to buy now.


I can see that you like it. You know, I really think you deserve it. Go on, treat yourself!

You have worked hard all your life. Don’t you think you could do with some reward?

Look at all the things you have done for other people. Don’t you think it’s time to do something for yourself?

How it works

The Treat Close evokes the need for fair play, showing the other person as needing something to make up for other things they have done. It leverages the exchange principle with the other person as the deserving recipient.

Trial Close

A Trial Close is not a normal ‘closing technique’ but a test to determine whether the person is ready to close.

Use it after a presentation or after you have made a strong selling point. Use it when you have answered objections.

The Trial Close may use other closing techniques or may be a more tentative question.

Ask ‘If…’ questions.

Ask questions that assume they have already bought the product.

When you have asked the Trial Close question, as with most other closes, be quiet, watching and listening carefully for their response.

‘ABC’ is a common abbreviation: Always Be Closing. It means that you should always be heading towards a close, although you must also be careful about over-doing this. If people are nowhere near ready to buy, this will just annoy them.


It looks like you really like this. Is that true?

If you took it home, would you be proud to own this?

Do you prefer the larger or smaller version?

How would it look on the shelf back at home?

How it works

The Trial Close works by putting the idea of closure into the person’s mind. Their response will tell you whether they are ready or not.

Business Skills: 2 Views to Improve Your Judgement

 a.k.a. Exchanging the Wide-Angle Lens and Microscope

You may have heard the phrase “Seeing is Believing”.
The other side of the same coin is that until you believe you sometimes don’t see.
So I think you might be with me when I say that two people looking at the same situation may see it different

So how might we use at least two ways of looking at situations to improve our judgement?

Let’s first look at “lack of judgment”.
Think about the times you’ve accused of someone of “a lack of judgment”.
Did it fall into one of these two, opposite categories.

Situation # 1: Missing the Bigger Point ( No Wide Angle Lens)

You know the saying, “He can’t see the wood for the trees.”
That represents a lack of judgment: Being so focused on the details that larger issues are lost.
You will have seen presenters who will, “If it kills me”, plod through each and every PowerPoint slide, regardless of the interests or needs of the audience.
You will have seen software writers who are determined to add that ONE MORE FEATURE, until a market window is utterly lost.
The list goes on and on.
Sometimes it is, indeed, that the devil and damnation is in the details.

Situation # 2: Missing the Finer Points ( No Microscope)

Then there is the opposite problem. There are people who can’t see the trees for the wood.
You might get the occasional big, broad idea from them, but it will be without understanding what it takes to achieve the idea.
We’ve all seen the senior executive spouting The Big New Management Directive.
They are usually clueless about what balls will be dropped in pursuit of this shiny new object, or as a result of it.
Nineteenth century economist Frédéric Bastiat used this idea in distinguishing between bad economists and good economists:
“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one:
The bad economist confines himself to the visible effect;
The good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”

So What is the Formula For Good Judgment?

Combinations of both the wide-Angle Lens and the Microscope.
If you want to develop good judgment learn to use both lenses.
Start with your preferred style, and then consciously and deliberately, swapping the lenses and back again a few times. It’s that simple.

So, if you’re a Microscope person, go ahead and focus on your critical details, but then fit the wide angle lens.
Give meaning and context to the details by asking questions such as:

  •  What’s the ultimate point here?
  •  What were we originally funded to produce?
  • What’s the broader impact of the decision I’m considering?
  • Could anything negative be created by my positive intentions?

Then put the microscope back to “crucial details” and see if you still like the game plan or want to alter it a bit.
Make a couple of microscope / wide-angle swaps until you are satisfied with your thinking.

That’s how good judgment works: you work from Lens  to Lens.

On the other hand, if you’re a wood type person ( Wide Angle Lens), then go ahead and revel in that Wide-Angle Lens, but then click the Microscope on with questions such as:

  • What would be the first, concrete step?
  • What will it take to make this happen, in terms of time, money, and effort?
  • What might we have to STOP doing in order to do this thing?
  •  Who else, or what else, might I affect with this effort?

After you’ve got some of those grimy details in hand, put the wide-angle back on and see if you still like the scenery.
Again, consciously and deliberately, swap the lenses a few times.

It is the only way to move from a vaporous vision to an actionable one – and one that you’ll be proud of when it’s achieved.

Whether you’re a big-picture or a detail-oriented type, if you make the switch enough times, in the end you’ll be able to see the wood AND the trees.

One direction will feel natural to you, but the other you will have to push yourself toward consciously and deliberately.

With practice, good judgement and good decision making will become habit.

How do you get another point of view into your thinking?

Business Skills: The 4 areas where top consultants excel

The 4 Areas where the Top Consultants Excel

You have probably seen the most improbable people succeed in the professional services business.  You may have seen people who are minimally talented, egotistical, or anti-social.

Here’s my opinion of the 4 basic behaviors that separate the best consultants from everyone else.  I know there are others, so feel free to tell me your ideas.

1. Generate Ideas When They Matter Most

Thought leadership? Not necessarily.
What clients want are practical and workable ideas just-in-time, when they need them.
Create ideas and alternatives that clients can use to address the issues they face right now.
They may not ever be defined as thought leadership but your client will think they are and being there at the right time will differentiate you.

2. Aim for “Share of Mind” to get to “Share of Wallet”

Once a consultant is given a revenue target to secure I see a shift in their mindset.  Instead of concentrating on the client’s goals, their revenue goals take precedent and selling comes first and client service second.  Achieving a revenue goal does drive thoughts and behaviours and clients eventually sense this and put the  barriers up.
Top consultants look for innovative ways to open clients’ minds before asking them to open their wallets.  Measure progress and “Share of wallet” but give someone in sales the revenue target not the consultant

3. Commit to Be the best Consultant

Top consultants are subject matter experts and have also mastered the process of consulting.
Most consultants can define and manage a project, but that’s necessary but not sufficient.
Consulting is often creating influence when you don’t have authority and using the skills of others who may not support what you’re doing.
It can also be speaking with total candor when it’s not in your self-interest and sometimes not in your companies interest but always in your clients interest to do so.
Every discipline is part art and science and the top consultants commit to mastering all.

4. Be a Peer to Everyone, All the time

Most consultants are good at managing their relationships with client decision makers and influencers.  Some have a blind spot and fail miserably when they work with support staff and even with colleagues. We’ve all seen insensitive consultants running roughshod over anyone they considered to be beneath them.
Professional Services is a high-touch and human relations business.  Every person, regardless of level or status, deserves to be treated with respect. As a top consultant, you can succeed only if people willingly follow your lead.

What do you think?

What else would you add to these 4 areas?

Sales: Why doesn’t Collaboration work?

Why doesn’t Collaboration work?

I’ve got a problem.  No not that.

About once a week, someone I don’t really know very well contacts me.
Sometimes they use email (easy to filter out, just by waiting) and sometimes by phone.

They say something like: I really like what you and your team do.
I do something very similar. We should talk and figure out ways to do things together.

The problem: This very rarely works.

I wondered if you have a similar problem?

  • Collaborating with work colleagues (cross-selling opportunities ring a bell?)
  • It could be with internal departments wanting to work with you.
  • Associates looking for additional opportunities

It may be worth us both working out why collaboration so often fails and maybe what we can do about it.  Do you want to have a go?

Intent is Necessary but it’s Not Sufficient

I’m glad people want to collaborate with me.
After all, collaboration is the new co-opertition. However intent alone won’t do it.
I need to cancel or get out of meetings based on goodwill and good intentions.

A Clear Vision is Necessary but Not Sufficient

Some very wise people said
“The wind never blows in the right direction for the sailor with no harbour to aim for”.
” If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”.
So clearly you’ve got to be clear. But clarity alone is worth not much.
Thought alone will not move matter.

Action Steps are Necessary but Not Sufficient

Before lots of our workshops someone important usually says, “What our people really want are tangible action steps they can begin using the very next day.”.
Our experience is that just Telling people to do something means their critical filter kicks in and they’ll tell themselves why that won’t work.
So part of the process needs to be a Co-Creation step. That’s consultant speak to get them to tell themselves what to do.
That way they’ll do it. Why wouldn’t they ? It’s their plan.

Conclusion : If you’ve only got one of these three factors working, you have absolutely no chance of making collaboration work

Two out of  Three won’t work either

Often though you may have two factors working but one missing.
Here are the “Two out of three” Scenarios and the symptoms of why they won’t work either

Spinning Wheels.

  • You’ve got Intent and Vision, but no Action Steps.
  • You will get no traction.
  • You keep on talking, but it’s always to the same people, and you are all already convinced.
  • You need some action steps with owners, timescales and measures.

Grinding It Out.

  • You’ve got Intent and Next Steps, but no Vision.
  • You’re all processes and metrics and execution and best practices.
  • You never get anywhere, because you never figured out how to create a compelling connection.
  • You need to do the Vision thing.

Passive Aggression.  

  • You’ve got Vision and Next Steps, but no Intent.
  • Your team is talking the talk, but excuse making behind the scenes.
  • You’re all brains and no heart.
  • You’re stuck in a military strategy game with little in the way of truth-telling.
  • You need some positive Intent.

So What do I now do with those people who call me up and offer to work together?  They are Wheel Spinning

  • Wheel spinning:
  • Intent and Vision but no action.
  • Maybe that is why so many emailed collaboration initiatives die just by waiting for someone to call?
  • The solution, I’m finding, is to say “Can you come up with one great Action Step, and I’ll buy lunch?  Until then, let’s not “do lunch.”

How about if you work in a grind-it-out group?

Do you work in a Passive aggressive group?

  • Passive Agressive
  • Vision and Next Steps but no intent
  • Go and discover your Intent.
  • Get an answer to “What’s our Aim? Why are we here? What’s our pupose?
  • Share it with the team. Even better get the team to co-create it

What do you think? What does it take to make collaboration work for you?

Sales Training: Ask Don’t Tell # 2 : Questions for when the sale has stalled

What questions can you ask when the sale has stalled?

In today’s economy, there are lots of sales conversations that go on and on without ever going anywhere.
You become a stalker or at least feel like one.
Your client has to find ways of avoiding you.
You may be able to get out of  “The Maybe trap” by asking a series of questions that help you verify if the conditions for a sale are present.

The first condition for a sale is that there must be a significant perceived problem or opportunity.
If there isn’t, why would anyone hire you?

To ascertain whether a truly significant problem or opportunity exists, you should ask questions such as these:

  • What is this costing you right now?
  • If you don’t fix this problem, what will the consequences be?
  • What do you think this opportunity is worth to your organisation?
  • What other issues is this causing for you?
  • Would you say this is one of your top two or three priorities? Or not?
  • And so on.

A second condition is that you must be speaking to someone who owns the problem and is empowered by their organisation to fix it.
In big companies, there are always lots of problems—and plenty of people willing to talk about them.
However unless you are talking to the owner of the issue, that’s all you’ll do—talk.

Questions you can use here might include:

  • Who owns this problem?
  • Are you responsible for fixing this?
  • Who would authorise an expenditure to address this?
  • Who needs to be involved in the solution?
  • Who would lead the implementation of a solution?

A third condition is that the buyer must have a healthy dissatisfaction with the current rate of change or improvement.
Your client may have a problem, and it may be significant, but they will not bring on a new service provider or supplier unless they are unhappy with progress or current solutions.

Questions that can help to ascertain this include:

  • Would you say this is a minor irritant, at one end of the scale, or something you’re truly fed up with, at the other end?
  • Why do you feel that now is the time to put extra resources against this?
  • What solutions have been tried already?
  • How effective have your own efforts been to address this?
  • Why or why not? 

The final condition is that the client must trust you are the best resource for the job—better than your competitors and better than internal efforts.

How do you determine this? This is harder than the other preconditions because it’s difficult to ask someone point-blank if they trust you. More likely, you’ll sense a hesitation or reluctance. Nonetheless, you can ask questions such as these:

  • What other solutions are you looking at?
  • How do you view our capabilities in this area?
  • How do you see your alternatives right now?
  • Do you have concerns about us or our approach?

The prospect you are talking to may have had 10 other meetings on the same day.
Be memorable and be bold about asking incisive, thought-provoking questions that help you ascertain if the client is truly ready to buy.

We cover this and other topics on our Sales Training if you are interested email us on

Let us know how these techniques and questions work for you and if you have your own ways of un-stalling a deal…
Good Selling and Rainmaking


Rainmaker Training: Ask Don’t Tell #1: Questions to build Peer to Peer Relationships

Ask, Don’t Tell: Questions that Build Peer to Peer Relationships

It often can feel like your buyers have the upper hand.
They have many service providers to choose from.
Everyone calls on them and aggressively pitches for their business.
Start-up firms and sometimes those desperate to bolster flagging revenues may offer to do the same work as you for significantly lower fees.
It not only makes it hard to get a sale, but it’s discouraging.

One CFO defiantly told a client of ours, “If your company went out of business tomorrow, it would make no difference to us!”

Ooooh that’s got to hurt.

We think that a few well structured questions can help you manage this kind of situation.

Let’s take a look at how questions can create a Peer to Peer Relationship.

To begin with, your behavior and demeanor at the outset have to telegraph that you consider yourself a peer.
Remember, if you don’t believe that, why would your client?
And if you’re not peers, how will the client ever accept you as a trusted advisor?

There is a great scene in The King’s Speech where speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) meets the future king, Prince Albert (Colin Firth) and is a wonderful illustration of the importance of this. When Prince Albert tells Logue to address him as your Majesty, Logue shoots back, “I shall call you Bertie,” which is the Prince’s childhood nickname.
Prince Albert is outraged, but he acquiesces.
Logue’s point is that during therapy, they must be equals.

So you must skip the “Oh, thank you so very much for meeting me.
I know how valuable your time is and how busy you are!”
With your head held high, walk in as a peer, an equal.
Remember you are enough.
You can cope with all they throw at you.

Psychologically (and indeed if you can physically)  you want to put yourself on the same side of the table as your potential client.

These questions we suggest might help you to do that:

  •  “I view this as a chance for us to get to know each other and understand each other’s business.   
  •  We may potentially be able to identify an issue of mutual interest where I could add value to your business.   
  •  From your perspective, what would be the best way for us to use this time?”

The question has the effect of making the client come up with their own reasons for having a conversation with you.
You have managed to set a very broad agenda, and then you turn it over to them.

On a similar vein

  • “I’m curious about what in particular interested you in meeting with me?” 
    Somewhat cheeky?   However if asked at the right moment it can shift a client from sitting back and commanding “OK, impress me”.
    To leaning forward and telling you why they think you might be able to help them
  • “You’ve defined a coaching program as the solution here, but in my experience there are other interventions that may possibly work better. 
  •  Can you talk about the underlying goal or goals you’re trying to achieve?”

Challenging the client’s framing of the problem and the proposed solution is not only the right thing to do, but it quickly puts you on even footing with them.

  • “How would the final decision on a project like this be made? 
  • Who would the ultimate executive sponsor be?”

    This seems like a very basic question about the client’s decision-making process.
    However it’s more than that. It shows confidence. It demonstrates a degree of worldly-wiseness.
    It also communicates you’re not just an order-taker.
    A follow-up question might then be
  • “Can you organise a meeting between the three of us?”
     This establishes you as someone who doesn’t just take orders (in both senses of the phrase!) from feasibility buyers.

The prospect you are talking to may have had 10 other meetings on the same day.
You want to be memorable, so be bold about asking incisive, thought-provoking questions that demonstrate you are a peer .

Let us know how you get on and if you have any other leveling techniques…