?ÛÏYou’ve got to be success minded. You’ve got to feel that things are coming your way when you’re out selling; otherwise, you won’t be able to sell anything.?۝

~ Curtis Carlson

Myron Cohen was a textile salesman in the New York City garment district in the 1940s. He had an outgoing personality and was well liked and respected by his customers. As a matter of fact, they looked forward to seeing him. He would always begin with a story or joke to set the tone of the meeting before showing his samples. Unfortunately, many times he would leave without asking for business. As he would admit years later, ?ÛÏI could warm them up, I just couldn’t ask for the sale. I was a lousy salesman.?۝ Fortunately for Myron, his humor was so good he became a headline comedian of his day, appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and many of the top nightclubs across the country. Every day, there are sales professionals from all walks of life who set the table but don’t initiate the close. Unless you have a fallback profession, you need to ask for the business.

Why? Sometimes failing to close the sale means not being employed or eating regularly. It’s not uncommon for sales professionals to get caught up with all the details and end the meeting without getting to the point. Closing a sale is a learned skill, like so many others, that needs to be practiced and refined over time. The good news is you can do this!

How? First understand that a ?ÛÏclose?۝ comes in many forms and stages. For example, it could be a verbal agreement to be placed in writing later or a negotiation of details to make the deal work. Often it’s a natural progression of events to a close. It also depends on the industry you’re in. Are you selling a product or a professional service? Learn what the norm is in your industry; it may be formal with a contract, or casual with a verbal commitment to buy. Understanding this is the first step.

You might be thinking, Ok, that’s all well and good, but how do I know when to close? This comes from asking questions and listening to the customer’s response. For example, after you have explained the features and benefits of your product or service and you have addressed the customer’s questions, ask open-ended questions like, ?ÛÏWill this fit with your plans? How would you like to proceed??۝ or ?ÛÏI appreciate your time and interest and look forward to doing business with you. Can we write up an order today??۝

Practice by thinking about and writing out some sample closes that work for you. Ask yourself what has been successful in the past and may work in the future.