Post-Close Closings

The Sales Close

This is a step that should occur the minute you observe that the "sales close" has occurred, or in any case, as soon as reasonably possible. It is also the first of what I have termed the "post-close closings."

The sales close is the most familiar and recognizable of the various types of closings. It is simply the final step in a gradient series of steps that are designed to approach the closing in a comfortable manner. Done correctly, it is as easy as taking the final step up a flight of stairs. It is a win for both buyer and seller, leaving each with the feeling that he has gotten what is needed and wanted from the exchange.

This is where the salesman now has to recognize that he must "close the close." If he doesn't, the sale can slip from his grasp with mercurial and devastating swiftness. He has arrived at the point where the sale can be closed and has succeeded. That point of awareness has been reached when both parties involved in the sales process are aware of and satisfied with the mutually beneficial agreement that has been reached. The sales closing process should be ended at that point.

To push it further, and continue any purely selling activity beyond this point, the salesperson runs the risk of alienating the prospect. The prospect will tend to put up resistance, where before none existed. The salesman can unwittingly create doubt where previously there was certainty. The prospect will begin to question aspects of the product or service with which he had no problem earlier. This, in turn, leads the salesperson to believe that he must continue the selling process.

Unfortunately, this leads to an even worse dilemma. The prospect begins trying to stop the salesperson from doing more selling, and the salesman, sensing the withdrawal, starts to dig in and sell even harder. Thus, the more he pushes, the farther away the prospect retreats, initiating a vicious circle.

Sometimes a botched sales close can be repaired by directing the prospect's attention back to the earlier point when he was first sold, thereby rehabilitating the comfortable atmosphere and feeling of commitment that existed at that time. But the best solution by far is just not to have made this error in the first place.

It is far easier to observe, recognize and acknowledge the characteristics in the prospect that signal that he now understands what is being sold and has become enlightened as to how it can benefit him or his interests and is prepared to move forward. At that point, the selling procedure should come to an end. You have achieved your sales close, and now you should conclude it.

So, the proper procedure for closing the sales close is simply to:

1. Observe that a close is possible.
2. Recognize when a close has actually occurred.
3. Acknowledge that this close is the end of any purely selling activity, and that to continue trying to sell past this point could compromise the whole process.

Now, if only that were the end of the overall process, we could just leave and collect our commissions. But, alas, there are two more post-close closes that must be achieved.

The Legal Close
This sometimes dreaded step involves activities of other individuals, behind closed doors, looking over the legal and contractual aspects of your sales close. These are mostly professionals who are dedicated to and paid for finding what is wrong with this contract, often to your detriment. You will rarely, if ever, get to talk to them directly, and they are not there to be sold, in any case. As this step is inevitable in corporate selling of any size, it is better to accept that it will occur and work through it as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Most often, it is best to have your legal department deal with the clients' attorneys on contractual language due to what has been called the "lawyer to lawyer communication rule." That is, from a lawyer's viewpoint, he can always communicate better with other lawyers. Whatever the reason, this rule seems to exist, so we might as well use this knowledge to our advantage to get the job done.

A definition of the legal close, then, is offered here for descriptive purposes: "Actions taken by legal professionals that result in a legally binding, written contractual agreement representing the mutual understanding and satisfaction between both parties, completed in a timely manner."

The legal close is important and not to be taken lightly. The overall sale can be lost at this point due to various elements. It is sometimes used to grind down either the price or the terms to a more favorable level. Taken too far, this grinding can disfigure the agreement you worked so hard to reach earlier, to the point that it is no longer viable or even recognizable. But hopefully, through vigilance, skillful communication and persistence, you will prevail in the manner desired.

It should not go unnoticed, however, as in the previous step, that you have to observe, recognize and acknowledge the completion of this step so that the contractual elements are handled conclusively. Occasionally they will accept your contract as is, but usually they will draft one that their lawyers are familiar with and incorporate the necessary elements. In any case, this is a legal close and should be ended when the mutual agreement is finally contained in the contract and is legally binding on both parties.

Unfortunately, it's not yet time to celebrate, for there is another dangerous foe equally capable of scuttling your commission. The administrators await.

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