<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1581599555431982&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

The Myth of Closing The Sale

What is "Closing the sale"? 

Every night in formerly-smokey bars across the country, insecure salespeople stuck in the 80's get together after work and brag about how they "closed the sale" that day.

Or they talk about how they didn't close the sale.

Or they reminisce about the whopper of a sale they closed back in the day.

But why do we call the transaction whereby a buyer hands over money to a seller "closing the sale"? 

"Well Wes, if I have to explain it to you, you must be a rookie at this selling thing."


Ever since I resigned my commission as a Captain in the Air Force in the early fall of 1997 with a wife of barely two years, a 5-month old son, and another son on the way, I've put food on the table for my now family-of-nine as a salesman, and yet I learn something new every day.

I've sold investments and insurance as a proud investment advisor with my Series 7, 65 and life licenses, and still listen to podcasts daily.

I've sold mobile homes off a retail lot working 7 days a week earning a $345 per week draw against commission, and still read blog posts daily on how to get better.

I've sold recruiting services to the likes of Rubbermaid®, 7-Eleven®, and National Instruments, and still pay mentors and consultants big bucks to help me improve.

I've sold 7-figure technology deals to Google, $635,000 in sales training to Dell, and $15 books on sales and marketing to trade show attendees, and work on my own presentations on a weekly basis.

And after all those years of being in sales and doing big deals, small deals, face-to-face deals, and virtual deals, and owning a sales training company since 2006, I've never really understood the origin of the phrase "close the sale."

In fact, years ago I had my own business card coin created (inspired by Jeffrey Gitomer) and I had the following inscription placed on the back:

"Learn to open relationships vs 'closing' deals to grow."

Close the sale coin by professional sales trainer, Wes Schaeffer.

Jeffrey Gitomer - The Sales Podcast #267

"Well Wes, maybe you're just lucky at sales since you're not a hard-nosed closer."


But again I ask, what is the origin of the phrase "close the sale"? Where did it come from and does it apply to every industry selling anything to anyone at any price?

So tonight I busted out the old digital dictionary and looked up the phrase "close the sale" and most of the meanings seem to be negative as it pertains to what I think it takes to have longterm success in sales.

For instance, "having or forming a boundary or barrier." Does that sound like something you want to experience? Would you want your grandmother to hit a "boundary or barrier" when she's looking for a new car, or a new water heater, or a new roof?

Next is "brought to a close; concluded." Okay. I can live with this. I can see negotiations being concluded and an agreement reached. So we're one for two.

Then we get to "not public; restricted; exclusive." Do we like secrets when we're selling to our customers? (If you're dropping your pants and giving away the farm I bet you want that kept secret, but you don't do that, right?) Do you want your neighbor's grandmother to get a better "secret" deal than your grandmother got?

When it comes to verbs, the first one is "to put (something) in a position to obstruct an entrance, opening, etc.; shut." So there's that getting in the way connotation again.

That is followed by "stop or obstruct," then "to block or hinder," and it goes on from there.

So maybe I'm not crazy in thinking "closing the sale" is a bit of an odd phrase as it pertains to helping or serving your customers, right?

The #1 Job of a Salesperson

I've written about the #1 job of a salesperson before so I won't belabor it here.

Your #1 job in sales is not what you think...

But suffice it to say "Frank Rizzo's" style from the Jerky Boys won't cut it today.

Rizzo: "I grabbed some guy, he's ahh, you know, he don't know if he wants to buy, I push his face right in the f___ing hood; you know, 'You buy this f___in car or I'll break your f___in head.' I had problems over there Paul."

Neither will Alec Baldwin's "Blake" character in "Glengarry Glen Ross"

Blake: "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted! You hear me, you f___in' f_____s? A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!"

But it's these quotes and these movies that live on for all eternity, it seems, and encourage new and/or weak salespeople to continuously misbehave and give sales a bad name.

Is "closing the sale" the ultimate goal?

I linked above to what your real #1 job in sales is, which is not collecting the money. However, collecting the money is obviously a crucial part of the sales process. But inexperienced sales people are making another mistake when they think that is the end goal.

Over the last several years I've created, tested, verified, and perfected what I call the ABCDE Sales and Marketing System™ and it looks like this:

  • A—Attract
  • B—Bond
  • C—Convert
  • D—Deliver
  • E—Endear

I talk about my ABCDE Sales and Marketing System™ in more detail here, but as you can see from the quick review above, the transaction, i.e. the close, is only the midway point.

Professional salespeople understand that just because someone says "I'll take it" doesn't mean they'll pay for it or keep it.

In fact, the pushier, cheesier, and more old-school, hardcore closer you are with your prospects, the greater the chances your prospects will simply give in and "agree" to "buy" just to get away from you, knowing they will cancel the charge or stop payment as soon as they get back to their computer.

Focus on opening well

Besides, you and I can't force someone to buy something they don't want or need. Sure, we can play some mind games with people, throw in a little NLP, crowd their personal space, challenge their manhood with "the stare," and otherwise bully polite, non-confrontational, and/or weak prospects into buying but are we following the Golden Rule when we act like that.

What we can control is how we meet and greet, how we sort, sift, and separate, and how we open with those we identify as truly needing what we have to offer, which is done through our experience and professionalism.

Selling and Selling Well

Like George Strait's song "There's a difference in living and living well," and there's a difference in selling and selling well.

Sell well. 

If you'd like a little help, support, and encouragement along the way, check out this free group.

Join The Implementors for free sales and marketing help from Wes Schaeffer, The Sales Whisperer

Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.