What’s so bad about old closing techniques?

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There it was again.

Another update on LinkedIn by a sales consultant bashing some other (imaginary?) sales consultants who still talk about old school closing techniques.

Have you see this?

Some guy trying to sound smart warns you not to listen to people using techniques from the 1960’s.

It’s sad to think that this is how some need to differentiate themselves – by proclaiming that they are better than some imaginary archetype who still talks about techniques from two generations ago.

But hang on a minute…

We’ve seen a resurgence of copy writing techniques from well before the 1960’s effectively reformulated for email campaigns, and persuasion techniques from the 1980’s re-popularized in the internet era.

Even that pre-millennium (stone age?) sales tactic of “mirroring” has been recast as NLP – so maybe there is something to say for resurrecting the classics with a modern twist.

In other words – when you think about it (and more importantly, IF you think about it) – what’s so bad about those old closing techniques?

Let’s look at a few seemingly moldy-oldies that have been adopted and/or still make plenty of sense well into the 21st century.

 

The Puppy Dog Close

Remember this one – the closing technique with the cute name?

The illustration for this one was the pet shop owner who sees the family looking at the puppy with a mixture of desire and uncertainty. The clever shop owner suggests the family take the puppy home for a week to see how it goes, and if it doesn’t work out, they can bring him back for a full refund.

Of course most of the time the family falls in love with the puppy and never comes back (other than for pet food), which is the genius of the idea.

So is this an old crusty technique that shouldn’t be used?

Next time you see a free trial on a software or digital product, just think about it as the puppy dog close and you will recognize that the concept still works, no matter what you call it.

 

The Ben Franklin Close

This golden oldie suggested that the salesperson use a decision making technique supposedly used by the wise old Ben Franklin himself – even telling the prospect that Mr. Franklin used to use this technique to help make a hard decision.

The idea was to list all of the reasons to buy on one side of a note pad and the reasons not to buy on the other side. Of course the salesperson helped with suggestions for one side and not the other – but that’s a different story…

These days, how many times do you see comparison tables on web sites? Same idea – a comparison of benefits – right?

Whether or not Ben Franklin is mentioned, the concept is still a good one – no matter what you call it.

 

The Alternate Choice Close

This is a simple technique, and like most can be executed well or in full sleazy-cheesy style, but the core concept itself is a good one.

In the old days, the idea was to present two choices, both of which were affirmations of the sale.

  • So, would you like that in red or blue?
  • Cash or credit?
  • Paper or plastic?

Pull that off poorly and you might get slapped – and deservedly so – but how natural (and common) is it to say something like:

Well, if the payment is too high we can break it up over a few smaller monthly payments.

Same idea, different execution. Still a good idea no matter what you call it.

 

Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

If you want to be successful in sales, you’ll probably benefit from the ability to think on your feet and to think for yourself. When someone tells you that some old thing doesn’t work, ask yourself why – have people really changed so much?

The words we use, the way we communicate and many other superficial things have changed, but core interpersonal dynamics, logic and persuasion are less fickle.

So consider carefully the wisdom of those who tell you that only their new thing works now. While in some cases it’s true, more often then not, sales consultants who use this argument look a lot like someone using a sleazy old sales technique to me.

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