To sell is to close. It is the penultimate conclusion. Selling is of no value unless one can close the sale in a timely manner.

Are you a good closer? If so, you're probably very successful. It is a different story for poor closers. We will devote this column to looking at the art of closing the sale and tips that can make you a better closer.

Closing the sale is a win. Failure to close is a loss. You either go home a winner or a loser. You either progress in your career or you get fired. You stay working or bang on doors having a hard time finding a job. It is all about your ability to close. It's that important to your career. So, let us begin.


Start the closing process when you start to sell

The closing begins, albeit subtlety, when you say hello and shake hands with the buyer. Set your sites on the closing right away. Thinking and acting this way will help you focus and increase your chances of a sale faster. Fill your mind with positive conclusions and allow those thoughts to drive your physical activity.


Create a sense of urgency

A positive attitude always helps, especially as you lay out all the wonderful reasons why the buyer should buy your product or service from you now.

The "now" part is all about creating a sense of urgency in the buyer. Instill in your buyer that today is the day to buy. After all, why not?

Many producers fail to produce more sales because they forget to create a sense of urgency. It is essential to good selling. Check yourself. Are you creating a sense of urgency every time you engage a buyer?


Eliminate all objections

A good seller knows how to adapt and overcome obstacles. Be a good seller and overcome every objection. This talent is a hallmark of a true salesperson.

You must know your product or service thoroughly and apply some panache to erase any obstacles in the buyer's mind that prevent you from closing the sale. Closing the sale means eliminating all objections and making it easy for them to say "yes."


Gain emotional commitment

I love Saatchi and Saatchi's selling philosophy and concept behind their "lovemarks." According to Saatchi and Saatchi, "lovemarks ... promote awareness of the emotional connection between consumer and seller by allowing them to share 'lovemarks' stories.

'Lovemarks' deliver beyond your expectations, they reach your heart as well as your mind to create and inspirational and emotional connection."

The idea behind this concept is the ultimate emotional commitment a seller can achieve with a buyer. Imagine being so good at your craft that buyers have an emotional bond with you, your product, and services.

You may chuckle at this idea, but you must gain emotional commitment to close a sale. No higher emotional commitment exists than the concept of an emotional bond with you and what you sell.

If you practice the concepts already discussed, your buyer has only one answer to one question left. The answer is, "Yes" and the question is, "Will you buy today?"


Closing the sale: true stories from the trenches

This story happened to me a few times in my career and probably in yours too. I am telling the story because it is a testimony to the power of closing a sale on your terms.

I was on a call with a producer to a 200-employee group. It was the first call. My job was to do the presentation, complete with appealing to the fear and greed motivators and all the stuff we talk about in this column. I did. The buying signals were coming in as I talked and quite evident to the producer and to me. We intuitively decided to go for a close on the first call.

At the end of the primary presentation, we employed all the tactics outlined in this article. The buyer was right there on the precipice of signing an AOR over to us. It could have gone either way.

We created a sense of urgency around their upcoming annual enrollment and the need to make a change to us now so that we could make everything smooth for the fall enrollment period. We were closing the buyer and could see the tension in her: "Should I buy now or should I wait?"

You see, we already made the sale. It was ours to lose. We had not yet, however, closed the sale and walked away with an AOR in our pocket. We worked the situation until we felt the law of diminishing returns from our continued selling would kick in. We told the buyer to think it over and allow us to call her tomorrow. We packed up our materials, thanked her, said goodbye and left.

The phone was ringing in the producer's car by the time we made the short half-block walk to his car. It was the buyer. She asked if we could come back to her office immediately because she would like to give us the AOR today and get it over with. We said we would have to think about it - not. Are you kidding!

We did our most professional bee-line back to the office, being careful to slow down to a professional pace as we entered her office. We closed the sale. It took one call.

If we had not been skilled at closing, we would not have walked away with the AOR and possibly could have lost it forever. Closing is the most important part of the sales process. It is the part that puts money in your pocket and secures a new relationship.


Reasons why sellers cannot close their sales

Why do so many sellers experience difficulty closing a sale? We can only speculate, so I will.

* Perhaps, the seller has a hard time asking anyone for anything.

Closing the sale means you have to take that bold step at just the right time and ask for the sale. Are you asking for the sale after the sales presentation?

* Maybe the seller lacks courage.

A lack of courage can be rooted in low self-esteem. The seller may be beat down from rejection and the resiliency isn't kicking in. Who knows? We do know that you have to rid yourself of the wimp factor if courage is a problem.

Asking for a sale takes courage because the buyer might say no. Don't be the cowardly lion. Muster up the courage to ask for the sale boldly and with confidence. The buyer won't bite.

* Some sellers have not been trained to close.

I know this sounds dumb, but it is true. I am hopeful this column gave friends who fall into this category some tips to employ so that they will become great closers.

Remember, start closing the moment you open your mouth with a buyer.

Selling is fun, but making money is more fun. To make money in sales, you have to close. Work at it over and over. You can become a great closer and that's the same as saying you can make big money. The two go hand in hand.

Davidson, CEBS, is founder of futureoffice and He is also on the faculty at the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Contact him at


Benefit squeeze may pinch brokersJoining states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio that are requiring public employees to pay more for health benefits, the New Jersey Assembly on June 23 approved a bill that will require 750,000 government employees and retirees to contribute substantially more for their health insurance and pensions. The trend is designed to prevent additional lay-offs of state workers, who then confront sticker-shock in the individual market, though it may also be drying up funds those workers use to buy voluntary benefits.

The New Jersey law sought by Republican Gov. Chris Christie will also suspend cost-of-living increases to pension checks, raise retirement ages and curtail union contract bargaining rights. A broker in Cherry Hill, N.J., Roger Jennings approves of the bill. "All Christie was trying to do was get them to step up and pay a little bit more toward the cost of [benefits]," he says. "The federal government and the state government and the municipalities don't have the money. We've got to be able to fund these kinds of plans in the future. Whether it's the health care plan or the retirement plan, the money's not there to fund these benefits when they come due."

Jennings reports receiving numerous phone calls from laid off state employees who are looking for individual major medical insurance after realizing they couldn't afford the true cost of insurance under COBRA. "So instead of paying 10% or 15% of $2,000 for a family, now they have to pay the whole thing because they're not working because they got laid off because they wouldn't give," says Jennings. "They're trying to stop this and trying to renegotiate going forward so they don't have this continuing on into the future."

It reflects the trend Jennings sees with his private market clients at Roger Jennings Insurance, mostly small groups of two to 50 lives. He never thought he'd be promoting high-deductible plans and HSAs, "but that's what the employers I work with are forced to do." - Elizabeth Galentine

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