Closing A Sale

In sales terminology, a sale is "closed" when customers sign their names to whatever documents are necessary to approve the transaction. In real estate it happens when a buyer signs the offer to purchase. (Do not confuse this with the "closing" that takes place later when all legal documents are signed and the ownership of property is formally transferred.) There can be no argument as to the importance of the closing step in the initial sales process, because without it, the commissioned salesperson never makes any money. There are, however, basic philosophical differences among those in the profession about how salespeople should conduct themselves in working with customers in reaching the critical buying decision.

The most prevalent theory, encountered in almost all sales training programs, is that folks need to be helped along in the decision-making process. To do this, a whole series of closing techniques have been devised, named, cataloged, and taught. Each is designed to facilitate the process as you guide your prospects smoothly and efficiently toward the major close by achieving a series of "minor closes" (less important decisions the client makes along the way).

Here is one overly simplified technique, but using a setting outside of real estate. It is called the alternative-of-choice close. Assume you are in a store looking at suits. After some time the clerk asks, "Do you want the blue suit or the brown?" Either choice is acceptable to him, when in fact you may not want either one, or for that matter, anything he has in the store. Books on real estate and training programs routinely cover closing techniques as though there was no argument about whether they fulfill the spirit of the agency relationship, or whether they are ethical.

Those who question the appropriateness of procedures such as this do so on the grounds that they are manipulative and hence unprofessional. They maintain that the only acceptable closing technique is to provide people all the information they need to make an informed choice, and then permit them the courtesy of reaching their decision in their own time.

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