The Dirty Dozen Closes (part 1)

by Michael D. Hargrove     


These are the twelve most commonly used closes in the sales industry.

Now, don’t ask me what research firm did the preliminary data acquisition work or what market segments were included, or was a control group used, etc. As far as the “top twelve commonly used” is concerned, I’m guessing, okay? Actually, I was just stumped for a good “opening grabber line” and grew tired of just sitting here, so sue me.

These are just a few of the most common closing strategies shared at the workshops we’ve conducted all across North America. Please keep in mind that nothing works all the time, and no one thing will work for everybody. Each of these strategies, of course, need to be tailored to the individual user, to the specific customer, and the particular situation. Also, this is by no means the definitive work on closing and it’s not intended to be. Heck, some of these things are older than dirt and some of them (in my opinion) deserve the thick dust that’s resting on them.

But don’t let my personal bias sway you at all. Just because something would never work on us is no reason not to have it in our toolbox. Remember, if all we have are tools that would work on us, then all we’ll ever do is close people who are like us. That’s the quickest way to an income rut that I know of. Besides, some very talented salespeople have told me that they make these strategies work for them. If they can use them successfully, then so can we. So here are the first six.

Red Herring Close
1. Keep a minor request from the customer as a bargaining chip in reserve.

a. “I’m not sure we can get the CD changer installed before delivery, Mr. Customer. But let’s come back to that later, okay?”

b. Then as the negotiations progress, we keep the issue in our pocket, casting doubt as to whether or not it can be done until the end. As a final win for the customer we ask them: “Mr. Customer, if we could get your CD changer installed while we finish up the agreements, would that seal the deal for us?”

Secondary Question Close

1. Follow a primary closing question or statement with a secondary question.

a. “Now in purchasing this car today exactly how do you want it registered?”

b. “Good news! The manager is going to throw in the floor mats! Now did you want to pay with a personal check or a company check?”

c. “Just OK your purchase right here. Do you want to use your pen or mine?”

d. “With just two thousand dollars to start, the monthly investments will be $652. Now, while they finish up the agreement let me get you something to drink. Did want coffee or something cold to drink? Coke or Pepsi? Diet or regular? Want it in a cup or just out of the can? Do you want to open it or should I? etc.”

e. Using a control question as the secondary question is the most effective way to close with this one.
1a. When they answer the either/or question, they’ve bought.


Sharp Angle Close
1. Answer a question with a closing question.

a. “Will the manager do that?” we answer: “Do you want it if he does?”

b. “Can I get a car cover included?” we answer: “Will you buy it if we can?”

c. “The rest of my down payment is coming from my father. Can I put the rest down in four days?” we answer: “Benny, normally they like to get it all up front but if I can get the manager to wait a few days can we go ahead and wrap this thing up?”


Lost Sale Close
1. Look defeated and talk slowly and quietly.

a. “Mr. Customer, this is how I feed my family and my livelihood depends on my performance here. I’m sorry for my ineptness for if I had done my job well you would be driving home in your new car right now. Just so this won’t happen to me again, would you please tell me what I did or didn’t do that turned you off?”

b. We then apologize or overcome the objection and continue.


Affirmative No Close
1. List the reasons why they wouldn’t buy, ending with price.

a. “Mr. Customer, just to clarify my thinking, why is it you’re not driving your new car home today? Is it not the right color?” “No.” “Well is it not equipped the way you asked?” “No.” “Then is it the store’s reputation?” “No, that’s just fine.” “Then is it my integrity you question?” “No, of course not!” “Mr. Customer, could it be the price?”

b. Eventually our customer will decide to buy or realize what we’re doing and come out with the true objection.


Similar Situation Close
1. Relate a similar situation with either a sad or happy ending to create urgency or to close.

a. “You know, something just like this happened a few weeks ago. I had a customer, Jody was her name. She had worked all school year to get her grades up from a C- average to an A- or above. Her parents had agreed that, if she succeeded, they would buy her the red Prelude she had always had her heart set on. Just like the one your thinking about owning. So she studied, she went to summer school, quit her soccer team to study, studied weekends, took extra tutoring, you know…everything she could. Anyway, she ended up graduating in the top twenty in her class with an A average. So, like you have, they went to several different dealerships looking for the perfect car. Finally they found it here. Jody ran right to the car! She was so excited! We drove the car and worked out a good deal, just like you have and were ready to drive it off when her father said that they should just take night to think about it. Well, that night…the red Prelude was sold. When they came back the next morning Jody ran right to where the Prelude last was. When I told them what had happened she actually cried a little. Well, not wanting to go through the hassle of starting the shopping process all over again, they ended up taking the white one we had left. Jody was still happy but that initial excitement was gone. Folks, I’d hate to see that happen to you. You’ve worked hard and you deserve to reward yourselves! So let’s wrap it up right now and while they’re finishing the agreement let me get you something to drink. Would you like coffee or something cold to drink?”

b. People love stories, so have fun with this technique.

c. We can make it more or less believable and humor works too!

© Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc.

e-mail Michael Hargrove

Sign in to Friend Michael

View Michael Hargrove's profile on LinkedIn