Closing is for Outside Sales Knuckleheads

An observation from the sales minefields… salespeople and sales managers that make “closing” a super priority, tend to talk to too many prospects that won’t buy, or will buy too little or buy at too small a profit margin.

Salespeople and sales managers that have a steady stream of qualified desired prospects that buy a lot with healthy profit margins…. hardly ever discuss “closing.”


Hello? Top salespeople that sell a lot don’t pay a lot of attention to “closing,” yet the great unwashed run around crazy for too little money crowd are constantly thinking and chanting “close, close, close.”

Want to close larger more profitable type accounts? The last thing you should be thinking about is the “close.”

For most companies and individuals the issue is not closing.

Issue #1 is that you spend far too much time and financial resources talking, marketing and selling to prospects that you shouldn’t be wasting three seconds or two cents on.

Issue #2 is that when you do speak or meet with qualified decision-makers you are typically so focused on the “close” that you skip all the necessary preliminary foundation steps necessary to close.

Some examples…

Typically with companies I work with I do a client analysis. They give me a list of their top accounts and I do an analysis of accounts and build a profile by SIC code, revenue range, sales volume of their typical desired account. I then run counts and provide lists of the companies that fit that profile in the geographic area they are selling in.

It is highly probable that your future great accounts will tend to look like your current great accounts. You have a choice. Invest sales efforts among that group of targets that looks like your current best accounts… or don’t.

It is typical… let me repeat, it is typical… that companies discover two things when this analysis is done. First, that 60%-70% of their prospecting efforts are focused on lower probability targets… that fall well outside of the profile of what a good account tends to look like. Second, that the group of prospects that look like their current good accounts are usually large enough to keep them busy for a minimum of six month or a year.

Ah, but some of you might be thinking…. “I’m not going to limit myself,” “I don’t want to miss anybody” or “You never know. I have some great accounts that wouldn’t be on that list.”

If that is you, ask yourself these questions….

Why am I approaching companies that typically buy less when I can easily identify and approach companies that typically buy more?

Why am I spending 50%, 60%, 70% or more of my time trying to sell to lower probability targets when I could spend the next six months or a year selling to much higher probability targets?

What can I do to increase my conversion ratio?

Rhodes Scholars of selling… if they have choice of marketing and selling into a group of suspects that look a lot like their best accounts… wouldn’t make a conscious decision to sell into a lower probability group.

For many individuals and companies, that situation creeps up on you.

The 2nd issue is that when you do show up to sell, you skip steps in the sales process and don’t lay a proper foundation for the prospect to say “yes.” You leap at the quick sale. You pitch too early. You don’t get information you need. You don’t ask good questions or good follow-up questions. You don’t communicate value. You don’t communicate credibility. You don’t do the things necessary to build trust and respect.

You pitch, pitch, pitch and close, close, close… and wonder why your conversion rates, average sale size and profit margins are too low.

When you prospect to the right companies…
gain access to the top decision-makers at those companies… and lay the proper foundation for a sale…
…sales happen.

Your emphasis on “closing” isn’t going to help you if you are prospecting the wrong companies, meeting with lower-level decision-makers and short-circuiting an effective sales process when you show up to sell.

If you are a salesperson not doing those things as well as you should… the consequences are significant. If you are a CEO or VP Sales of a salesteam the direct result on your bottom line is monumental.

Best wishes for sales success,
Scott Channell