What Are Traditional Closing Techniques?
Traditional closing techniques refer to various methods used to secure the customer's affirmation, usually after a presentation is made or right at the heels of an objection. They somehow resemble ‘pick-up lines’, ranging from the subtle to the confrontational and all the way up to those that are pressure-inducing. To illustrate, take note of the succeeding samples. Let us talk about the ‘minor item close’. Here, the salesperson can ask for the color or variant of choice, which implicitly means that the sale must happen for the color or variant to be chosen. Another common practice is the ‘premature negotiation close’, where the salesperson offers a discount or incentive to get the customer to say yes immediately. There’s also the ‘standing room only close’, a technique that uses pressure to get the customer to decide now instead of later. It may go like this, “look, we can only make this offer today because tomorrow, this merchandise will be gone”. Dizzyingly, there are many more.
Why Obsolete?
Nowadays, there has been a marked decline in the effectiveness of traditional execution of closing techniques. Even where success is attained, the cost in terms of customer’s transaction remorse, negative customer experience, and the consequent backlash of long term customer vengeance be-hooves us to relook its continuing use. Execution of traditional closing techniques, usually after a presentation or just in the face of an objection, has been perceived to be artificial, insincere, and a one-sided attempt by salespeople to prematurely close deals. Oftentimes, customer defense mechanisms get triggered and likewise vary in counter tactics from subtle evasion, escape, to downright rejection.
‘Closer’ Analysis
After almost three decades of analyzing sales encounters, from agriculture to high-tech transactions and everything else in between, we can conclude that the ineffectiveness of traditional execution of closing techniques can be attributed to both premature timing and insensitivity of the closing technique relative to the customer’s needs, wants, and constraints. In the absence of a customer-recognized match between value proposition and needs, wants and/or constraints, any attempt to prematurely close the deal comes off as weak and artificial. Moreover, the premature nature and lack of recognized matches also revealed that the very process of ‘present, handle objections and close’ is likewise mistaken gospel!  It now clearly appears that both the process and the technique are flawed. But why did they seem to work well prior to the 1990’s? Apart from hyper-segmentation of markets and proliferation of product/service alternatives, with the onset of the information age, the internet and the new generation of people, dependency on the supplier for information has ceased. Unsurprisingly, this ushered the shift of power from the seller to the customer. Prevalent processes and techniques of those times have perilously lost their previous efficacy, requiring the inevitable shift in methods by the seller.
What is the Alternative?
The consequence of continued use of the traditional execution of closing techniques as part of the process ‘present, handle objections and close’ is detrimental to relationships, dents one’s credibility, and decreases the likelihood of being preferred in subsequent transactions. In other words, leads get burned, customers get turned off, and accounts get lost. The alternative is to relegate the use of traditional closing techniques to the backseat, or better yet, the trunk or with your old tools in the garage. The driver upfront should be a process attuned to the customer’s needs, wants, and constraints, as well as the algorithm by which these are processed. Riding shotgun with the driver should be methods aligned with this client-centric selling process. In other words, given that the customer will be the one to decide based on his or her own reasons, using those reasons in a sequence aligned with the customer’s thinking has a higher chance of success than premature and artificial attempts to secure the deal. Just go natural, not artificial!

Rowen Untivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the country’s leading marketing, sales, strategy, and innovation training company.  Rowen, a veteran of Training, Coaching and Consulting in sales, buying, and negotiation practice, is the pioneering developer of many original frameworks and tools in sales and sales management, selling mechanics, strategic account development, retail sales optimization, tactical and strategic negotiation. While he focuses on training programs tailored specific to companies, he will be holding a Mansmith public seminar on “Superior Selling Science” on January 15 and 16, 2014. Please send your questions, comments, or feedback to mentors@mansmith.net. You can also visit www.mansmith.net.