The Two-Party Indecision Close

The Two-Party Indecision Close is to be used when there is more than one decision-maker. In this type of situation, you are likely to run into a situation where one is ready to go ahead and one is not. This may be a husband and wife or it could be two business partners. When you reach what looks like an impasse, use this strategy:

Phraseology: “John and Mary, when two people are involved in making a decision, it’s often impossible to find one simple solution that satisfies both of them. So life then becomes a matter of compromise. Now, the measurement of the decision becomes this: Does it satisfy most of the wants of each of the parties?”

If it does, you’ve just closed the sale. If it doesn’t, you’ll at the very least uncover an area of concern that you haven’t fully addressed. Grab hold of that concern and handle it properly, then go for the close again. Remember, the average sale is not closed until after five closing attempts are made.

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (

Learn even more closes from Sales Closing for Dummies.

Financial Services Guidelines for Asking Questions

Three Guidelines for Asking Questions

Because asking good questions is such an integral part of good selling I’ve given the matter a lot of study and thought over the years. I’ve boiled down all that knowledge into three basic guidelines.

Guideline #1. Establish a bond before you attempt to control the process with questions. Establishing rapport is essential because people want to do business with people they like and trust. They’ll never get to the trust issue if they don’t like you. There’s no need (or reason) to attempt to become “best buddies” on the spot, but it is important that your prospect comes to like you very early in the process. This is one of the reasons for the brief chit chat that takes place before the selling begins. [Read more…]

The Inflation Close

As much as we all hate the idea of entering a period of inflation, indicators are showing that there is very likely going to be one in the not-too-distant future. I don’t want you to be caught by surprise or to wonder how to make sales during an inflationary time. The recent Great Recession has been tough enough. Let’s be well-prepared to sell during the projected upcoming inflationary times.

The Inflation Close is used to help people rationalize parting with their money for something that either earns a greater return than the inflation rate (such as certain investments) or to improve their lifestyle with products and services whose investments are likely to increase. [Read more…]

The Alternate of Choice Close

In my sales training, the Alternate of Choice question is usually used to get a date or time commitment to visit with a future client. The Alternate of Choice is a question with two answers — either answer is an agreement. The key is to give two solutions that both lead toward the sale.

Another great use for it is regarding a location for a meeting or to deliver product. By giving two choices, one or the other is usually chosen. This is much better than what happens when you give one choice and the only other option is “no.”

The Alternate of Choice can also be the most simple close you will ever use.

Phraseology: “John, you’re really a whiz with that new software today. Would you prefer to train your staff yourself, or shall we provide the training?”

Either way, he needs to own the software in order to train, doesn’t he? [Read more…]

The Competitive Edge Close

If you’re faced with a client who doesn’t want to make a decision about your product, service, or idea, you can tell a competitive-edge story to help them along. These stories don’t need to be elaborate, and they’re not meant to talk your clients into anything they don’t want or need. The stories just remind clients that they have competitors. So if you’re not telling them anything they don’t already know, what’s the appeal in competitive edge stories? In a word, survival.

“John, remember that many of your competitors are facing the same challenges today that you are. Isn’t it interesting that, when an entire industry is fighting the same forces, some companies do a better job of meeting those challenges than others?

My entire objective here today has been to help provide you with a competitive edge. Gaining a competitive edge, no matter how large or small, makes good business sense, doesn’t it?”

To read all of my closes, get a copy of Sales Closing for Dummies. To listen to them delivered and learn how to write your own, listen to my audio titled, Academy of Master Closing — available in both CD and MP3.

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (

Qualify All the Time

While the qualification process is critical in making an initial sale to clients, it’s not something you can do once and forget about it. In challenging times, you may need to continually re-qualify existing clients. When anything changes, think of them as if they’re new clients all over again. The key element is what they might want or need to change about their current situation. You can never assume you know whether or not they remain highly qualified candidates for your product or service.

Changes that are impacting just one of your clients could be making an impact on all of them. Fastco manufacturing might be a good client when they’re running three shifts each day. But with any change in their production, such as cutting out a shift, or running 24/5 instead of 24/7, their needs may change…and your services may need to change as well. Maybe they’re no longer an ideal candidate for product X that you offer. Getting in there and truly working to serve their needs might show that they’ve become a better candidate for product Y. If you had just let them ride along with product X, they may have been tempted away by a competitor who pointed out a different solution to their needs. [Read more…]

Understanding People’s Natural Fears


Think for a moment about what the greatest enemy is to the process of helping people come to a decision that’s truly good for them and getting an agreement for them to own your product or service. What is it that jumps in and brings presentations that were previously sailing smoothly along to a screeching halt? You may think it’s the competition or maybe the financial aspects of your proposal. Perhaps you think it’s the prospective client’s inability to make a decision.   Well, if you think any of those things, you are right. But, with selling being what it is — a bottom line business — let’s dig deeper and find the bottom line of what lies between you and your ‘future client’ coming to an agreement.   If you look at all the enemies you and your associates can come up with, you’ll find they have a common denominator. That common denominator is a thing called FEAR.

Fear is the greatest enemy you’ll ever encounter as a professional salesperson. Your fears, the prospect’s fear, market and trend fears and so on.   What do we fear? As salespeople, we fear saying or doing things that may halt a potential sale. Hopefully, you’ll learn to recognize and conquer your fears through continual education, practice, drill and rehearsal of strategies and tactics that will keep you ahead of the pack.   A tough part of our jobs as salespeople is in helping others understand and overcome their fears so we can earn the opportunity to help them make decisions. Fear is what builds that wall of resistance we so often run into. You must master the skills to either climb over or break through those walls.   When you recognize your potential clients’ fears as barriers to giving them excellent service, you are then ready to learn how to dismantle that wall, one brick at a time, thus gaining their confidence and trust. Your goal is to get them to like you and trust you by serving them with warmth and empathy. The first step in accomplishing this is to show them you understand and offer reassurance and a bit of education.   Here are some other common, normal and potentially paralyzing fears that many people face in decision-making situations and what you should do about them.

1. Your prospective client is initially afraid of you.
This is simply because you are a salesperson. I think you’ll agree with me that most people do not generally accept salespeople with open arms. Even if you are going to help someone you already know — a friend or acquaintance or even a relative — when you get down to business, certain fears will arise. It’s bound to happen in 99% of your presentations. (I’ll give you a 1% non-fear situation with your parents or grandparents, simply because in most cases they’ll believe in you and trust you no matter what role you play with them.) What do you do about the others?   Accept it. There are some people who are going to be afraid of you just as there are patients who are panic-stricken when they have appointments with doctors or dentists. What you need to do to conquer the fear of salespeople is to master the skill of putting people at ease. Learn to use a relaxed manner and tone of voice. Use rapport-setting comments and questions that show them you are interested in the people who own the home, not just in moving product.

2. They have a fear of making a mistake.
We all have that one, don’t we? We’ve all made decisions we’ve later regretted. Perhaps we relied on someone when we weren’t sure of his or her knowledge on the matter. When you are the salesperson, your prospective client must recognize you as an expert. You know this business. You should have knowledge about aspects of your product or service that they haven’t even considered. To help people overcome the fear of making a mistake, you need to lay out all the details they require in an easy-to-understand manner. Once they gain confidence in their knowledge, making a decision will be easy.

3. They fear being lied to.
Face it, the selling profession is still suffering from the antics of those less-than-scrupulous folks who used to be known to say anything to ‘close the deal.’ This is where your literature, testimonial letters and referrals come in. People are more likely to believe the written word than the spoken word so let them read the good news about your product or service for themselves. Let them see how happy the people you currently serve as clients are with the product and your service in particular.

4. They’re afraid of owing money
Most people have a tremendous fear of debt. If your product or service requires financing of some sort, you’ll have to be ready to address this concern. Covering the financial details very carefully is key here.   You’ll also encounter those people who will try to haggle with you over any investment. Most people wouldn’t attempt to negotiate with a company or financial institution so you need to address financial details by referring to the lender once you reach that point. Be ready, though, for those who will try to negotiate with you about your fee. This challenge may appear in many variations, depending upon the negotiating skills of your clients. They may go at it in a roundabout way such as saying, “Another company we talked with will charge a lot less.” When you hear that remark, here’s what I recommend you say, “You know, I’ve learned something over the years. People look for three things when they spend money. They look for the finest quality, the best service, and of course, the lowest investment. I’ve also found that no company can offer all three. They can’t offer the finest quality and the best service for the lowest investment and I’m curious, for your long-term happiness, which of the three would you be most willing to give up? Fine quality? Excellent service? Or the lowest fee?” Most will respond that quality and service are of utmost concern, which overcomes the concern about the fee. Your next move would be to re-iterate everything you will do for them. Again, sell the value of the service you and your company provide.

5. Many people are afraid of losing face.
Have you ever made a poor decision that was big enough that most of your friends and family members knew about it? If you have, you know exactly what I mean here. If not, believe me when I say it can be totally demeaning and embarrassing. Often a situation like that makes you feel like a child again — insecure and powerless.   For that reason, many potential clients will stall making the decision to own your product or service. Knowing that this could be a challenge, your primary goal should be to help them feel secure with you. Let them know they are not relinquishing total power to you. You are simply acting in their behalf, performing a service they need to have done.

6. They are afraid of the unknown.
A lack of understanding is a reasonable cause for delaying any transaction. If your company has national name recognition, that should help eliminate some of this fear. If you work for a local company, I suggest you work with your fellow agents to earn a great local reputation. It will save you a lot of time over the years.   I have long noticed that former teachers often make the best salespeople. Correction, good former teachers almost always achieve champion status when they make the switch to careers in sales. Selling is little more than a matter of educating the people on the benefits of doing business with you. Once you educate them, they will feel confident in making a wise decision.   Some of seller’s most common fears may seem irrational to you, but remember, you are an educated, professional expert. You have eliminated the unknown from being a potential fear through your own education and personal experience in the business. You have already been involved in more transactions in your career than the average person will be in his or her entire lifetime (unless they join the ranks of sales professionals themselves.)

7. Your decision-makers may have had bad past experience with a salesperson or with a product or service like yours.
Have they ever made a decision like this before? If not, it’ll be like going back to kindergarten for the teacher in you. You’ll have to bring them up to speed on exactly what to expect before you can expect them to make a decision.   If they have made a decision like this before, what kind of experience was it for them? You need to ask the proper questions to get those answers. If they hesitate to tell you, you may assume it was a bad past experience and you’ll have to overcome a lot more fear than if they’ve never owned a product like yours before.

8. Their fear may be based on third party information. Someone they admire or respect may have told them to keep their existing product, or to wait for a sale. That third party will stand between you and them until you convince or persuade them that you can help them more than that person because you are the expert. You’ll have to work hard to earn their trust. You may even have to enlist the aid of some of your past happy clients as references.   You must be prepared to do whatever it takes to replace any fears they may have with confidence in the decision they’re making and in the service you will provide.   No one wants to handle a transaction in which the client may be dissatisfied with the result. Believe me, there will be cases where the grief you will get from that client won’t be worth the fee you’ll earn on the product or service. It doesn’t happen often, but you must go into every presentation with a very curious interest in the who, what, when, where and why of the situation. When you’ve satisfied yourself that this decision is in their best interest, then it’s your duty as an expert in your industry to convince them that this decision is truly good for them.  

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (






Barriers to Closing

What are you really doing when you close a sale? There are four issues you are addressing, and, perhaps overcoming.

The first issue is that the client really does want to make the decision to go ahead and they need your help rationalizing it. That puts you in the position of the “rationaliz-er”–the one who validates their emotional decision or backs it up with facts and other evidence that they’re making a wise decision to go ahead. [Read more…]

Asking Final Closing Questions

final closing questionFinal closing questions are part of a topic I’m asked about quite often.

The key point is that after you ask your final closing questions that your presentation is finished. You should not say another word. In most sales situations, whoever speaks first after the final closing question has been posed will own the product. If you speak first, you will likely keep it in your inventory. If the buyer or potential client speaks first, they will likely buy.

After that final closing question the buyer is obligated to answer one of two ways. They either accept the offer you’ve made or they don’t. If they do accept it, you can quickly move onto the paperwork or whatever method you use for completing a sale. If they say “no” or hesitate in any way, hopefully, you can keep the discussion about their needs open. You will then need to discover what about your product does NOT serve their needs (in their minds anyway). If you can keep them talking about their needs and the solution they’re seeking you will have an opportunity to save this sale. If they just say “no” and do not utter another word about the product, you may need to ask for permission to continue to speak with them about your products.

A lost sale is never truly lost. Do not burn bridges with non-clients. If they buy from someone else today, they may be unhappy with their decision. By checking back with them regularly, you may win their future business.

Qualification Defined

If I asked a room full of experienced salespeople how many of them qualify their clients, every hand would go up. If I asked that same group to define qualification, the answers would probably vary to the extent that a newcomer in sales would be somewhat confused. If I then asked these experienced salespeople to deliver their qualification sequence to the group, I’d have to guess that many would not be able to do so. Too few salespeople, even veterans, have proven, practiced methods of qualification. And that’s a sad truth. [Read more…]