This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

I hope you’ll be entertained by what may be a bit of a rant.

I’ve borrowed the headline for this week’s tip (“Learn TIPS and TRICKS to CLOSING MORE DEALS”) from the subject line of an email I received last week. When I read it, I let out a very loud groan.

On the one hand, I get it. I get the very real desire to figure out how to be more successful as a business developer or salesperson by learning practical actions you can take to cross the proverbial finish line. And I get that someone who’s selling sales training wants to connect with their audience by promising just that.

On the other hand, the subject line in-and-of-itself is a brilliant illustration of exactly what’s so wrong with sales training and sales approaches today.

Your clients love to buy. They don’t like to be sold. And they almost universally hate to be “closed.”

The same is true for you. Think about the last time someone tried to “close” you. It probably left a bad taste in your mouth. And for good reason.

Yet sales lingo continues to focus on closing—that dramatic end point to a transaction, when, in theory, the salesperson overcomes any lingering objections and convinces the client to finally “sign on the dotted line.”

With trust-based relationships, the close isn’t the end or the goal; it’s just another point in an ongoing relationship. Attempts to close actually close down the conversation. They’re seller-centric, not client-centric. They make for really big trust problems.

If you’re reading this, the chances are better than good that you’re not a smarmy salesperson. You’re very likely a professional with good intentions and something valuable to offer. The problem is, if your mindset is off, your buyer is going to sense it—subtly or overtly. If you do or say or think anything that smacks of, “I want to get them to ____,” where the fill-in is about you, you’re screwed.

What’s the antidote? Wrap your head around one simple goal, which is to help your client make a good decision—one that may or may not involve you. That’s it. It really is that simple. Change your intention and all the right behaviors will naturally follow.

Here’s my simple plea: Stop closing. Stop using any variation of the word. Stop looking for “tips and tricks” for how to do it. Instead, make things better for your client, whatever that looks like.

Make It Real

This week, replace closing language with action language—in any conversation, not just a sales conversation. When it’s time to focus on next steps, ask questions like:

  • “Where should we go from here?”
  • “What makes sense now?”
  • “What needs doing next?”

Then have a candid discussion about the answer.

Learn More


Read more about how clients really buy, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or discover five practices to stop closing and start helping in Chapter 16 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

Rant over (for now) …

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).