What Does Closing Mean in 2016?

Learn a more productive way to think about “closing a sale” for the social selling age with these sales tips.

January 22, 2016


When you think of closing a sale, it’s hard not to think of Blake, Alec Baldwin’s in-your-face “coffee is for closers” character from Glengarry Glenn Ross. It’s easy to conjure up the image of Blake at his chalkboard, delivering his profane rant about the A-B-Cs of sales. “A: Always. B: Be. C: Closing.”

A-B-C might have worked for the high-pressure salesmen of the 80s and early 90s. But as the balance of power shifts from the salesperson to the buyer, high-pressure closes are as much a relic of the time as the personal pager. Modern social sellers know that not only is a hard close ineffective, it’s unethical, and it certainly runs counter to the idea of relationship-building.

That’s not to say social sellers never ask for the sale. When you have a social selling mindset, closing is built into the relationship instead of one last push to get the deal done at any cost.

We have rounded up thoughts from some of social selling’s brightest minds on what closing means in 2016 and beyond. The following sales tips will help you close confidently, based on the mutual trust you build with your buyer throughout the process. 

Closing in 2016 Is... 

Pulling Not Pushing

“When we focus on uncovering their pain, understanding the impact that pain is having, and recognizing we can help, we don’t have to ‘push’ our product or service on the prospect; instead, both parties see there’s a fit and work together to a solution.” Matthew White, President, JoltCMS

The old sales mentality is to throw product knowledge at the prospect, dazzle them with features, then push for the sale. Now, your prospect is already on a journey when you meet them. If you try to push them in a certain direction, they are bound to resist. Nobody likes being pushed around. It’s better to become a trusted guide who can pull them toward the solution that fits.

A Mutual Decision

“High-pressure selling has stopped working because it treats customers as interchangeable piles of money. But that’s not really true. Prospects’ situations and needs are as diverse as the people themselves, and while one buyer might be successful with your product, your offering may actually hurt another.” Dan Tyre, Director, HubSpot

A “don’t take no for an answer” mentality might work for a quick win, but isn’t likely to result in satisfied customers. As a social seller, your goal is to build lasting relationships that lead to repeat sales and referrals. Part of the modern approach to closing is knowing when to let a prospect go. With a low-pressure approach, you can part as friends and keep the door open for future business. Plus, you will spend less time trying to force a sale that is not a good idea for either party.

The Logical Next Step

“Forget that A.B.C. (Always Be Closing) stuff. It’s easier to sell if you think about selling as getting the customer to make series of small commitments each of which follows in logical order. That way, when it’s time to ‘close the deal,’ it’s usually just a matter of saying ‘so, we’re going forward on this, right?’” Geoffrey James, Managing Partner, Geoffrey James LLC

When you build relationships with your prospects, you become less reliant on a single big ask for the close. What’s more, with the knowledge you gain while building the relationship, you can continuously tailor your approach to their buying process. With social selling, closing is simply the next step, not a huge leap of faith.

Still up to the Salesperson

“What if we made the target close date sacred?...Every time we miss a target close date means the customer is losing. The problem they are trying to solve, the opportunity they are trying to address remains. The damage, whether lost revenue, rising expenses, bad quality, poor performance persists. It is something lost forever, never to be recovered.” David Brock, President, Partners in EXCELLENCE. 

Having read the rest of this article, it may seem like closing is no longer the salesperson’s responsibility. If it’s all about a mutual journey through a logical process, is it ever acceptable to exert pressure?

The truth is, social sellers have more responsibility to be firm on the close than a high-pressure salesperson does. We know our prospects’ business inside and out. We know our solution is the best way forward for their business. So it’s our duty to overcome delays and obstacles that cost time and money. Once your prospect has agreed that your solution is the right one, it’s up to you to keep the close date firm and see the deal through to closing.

Social selling has elevated the sales profession to a value-adding role that is light years beyond the stereotypical high-pressure sales person. For greater success in 2016 and beyond, commit yourself to a closing process built on pulling instead of pushing. Respect the buying process, make sure the deal is a good fit for both parties, and closing will be easier than A-B-C.

To find more opportunities to increase your social selling skills, check out LinkedIn’s SSI Dashboard.