Possibly the worst sales maxim is also the most common: "A.B.C. -- Always Be Closing." Customers don't like it when sellers hammer away, trying to close, close, close.  Despite the maxim, nothing creates resistance faster than the old hard-sell.

Here are the 5 "hard sell" closes, and why they don't work.

1. The Assumptive Close

This method entails asking the customer to make a meaningless decision that assumes that the full buying decision has been made.  For example, "Do you want that in the hunter green or the hunter orange?"  Theoretically, the customer will state a preference and then you can ask the customer to sign on the dotted line.  Unfortunately, what usually happens is the customer looks at you like you’re crazy and says, "I didn’t say I was going to buy anything."

2. The Flyfish Close

The idea here is to promise something valuable that's only part of the deal if the decision isn’t made right now.  Example: "If you act now..." However, rather than being spurred to buy, most of the time the customer sees right through this approach and realizes that the salesperson is probably fibbing.  And, in fact, these "special offers" almost always remain on the table, even if the customer doesn't immediately buy.

3. The Puppy-Dog Close

Also known as "the free trial." You let the customer try the product for free in the hopes the customer will fall in love with it.  Usually this takes the form of, "We’ll give you the product free for your evaluation and only charge you if you don’t return it."  The problem with this close is that insults the customer's intelligence.  If the product requires any effort to learn or install, the customer (unless very unwise) will realize it's not really free.

4. The Reverse Close

This is a textbook 1930s-era sales technique. You ask a customer who’s saying "no" a question intended to elicit a "no" that actually means "yes."  For example, you might say, "Is there any reason that you wouldn’t do business with our company?"  If the customer says "no" and you say "Great! Sign on the bottom line."  Unfortunately, customers haven't been that stupid for decades, if indeed they were ever that stupid.

5. The Yes Man Close

Another golden oldie.  You ask a series of questions that naturally elicit a "yes" answer, building momentum to get the final yes.  Example: "Do you expect first rate service?" "Do you believe that you deserve the best?" "Do you always try to find the best value?" "Are you going to take this opportunity to get the best value and best service?" Since this approach is patently obvious, it's a good way to get thrown out of the customer's office. 

Closing can no longer be just another tactic. You need to let a closing opportunity arise naturally out of meaningful conversation and questions with your prospect.

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