You’ve been with the customer for close to 40 minutes. From your perspective, the meeting has gone well. You got through all your recommended products and background and the customer seemed engaged throughout… she even asked some really great questions. All seems positive and optimistic.
And then you say… So, what do you think our next steps are ?
And then she says… Give us some time to get our direction and budgets aligned. Maybe in the meantime you can write some of this up and send it to me?
And just like that… it all goes away. Once again, you’ve ended up in the friend zone. You’ve had a polite, inoffensive, inconclusive call that will not lead to any kind of business commitment. It didn’t have to be this way.
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What if instead, you’d asked… So, Jen, based on our discussion, will you recommend this program to the client for $800K and a Q1 activation?
She might still have said something like… Well, I don’t know yet. We’re still waiting to see what the budget will look like.
And then you could have said… Can you tell me more about the budgeting process? How are you feeling about it this year? Does the client seem like he’ll be thinking expansively?
Or… If the budgets come in at a reasonable level, can you tell me how the decision to move on this would happen? Who’d be involved in making that call?
Or… I know there’s more work to be done. How do you feel personally about the idea? Is it something that you think makes sense for the client?
The initial closing question – the one about $800K in Q1 – may sound abrupt to the ears of the average seller. This may be because of Impostor Syndrome — not feeling like you deserve to ask it. Or because your meeting was just a recitation of your company and your products and there was really nothing to ask for.
But it may also be because you misunderstand the real purpose of closing. We don’t ask a firm closing question because we expect the customer to say yes. We ask it because we want to get to all the other questions… the ones that qualify the opportunity… that help us understand the decision process… that identify other decision makers… and that give insights into the opinions and motivations of the person across the desk.
There’s always one more question to ask. The quality and value of your sales calls depends on how they end. That’s why they call it closing.