A Rave From The Grave – When Closing Techniques Were Almost An Art Form

The kind of pressure selling styles that came out of post war America took some time to take hold in the UK, but when they did, closing techniques became a specialist subject in themselves, reaching a zenith in the 1980s.


The principle of closing will always be valid. After engaging with, even stimulating, the customers buying motivations it’s critical to bring the process to some sort of conclusion, otherwise the customers’ heightened awareness could be captured by a competitor. Trial closes and identifying buying/interest signal s should always be part of a sales professional’s end of sale focus.

But what about those actual closing techniques? Below we give a quick tour of the 1980s finest, best to worst:

The Direct Close:
Just ask directly for the business, the worst response you can get is a no.

The Alternative Choice Close:
Offer two equally attractive (to you) choices, red or yellow, the decision is not whether to buy, but which version

The Assumptive Close:
Proceed as if the business is already won; ask for the necessary logistical next steps, order number, delivery address, detailed spec etc.

False Negative Close:
Reveal to the customer something that your product/service can’t do that you know the customer doesn’t want or need. This implies that what you offer does everything the customer does require.

The Benjamin Franklin Close:
Make a list of positives and negatives with the customer, making clear the plus side is much more heavily weighted. This is sometimes also called the Balance Sheet close for obvious reasons. You can also choose your famous person to taste – Winston Churchill used to be quite popular.


The Cautionary Tale Close:
This can be delivered either way round. An example of someone who didn’t buy from you and lived to regret it; or someone who did buy to their huge benefit, the caution being your prospective customer will miss the same opportunities.

The Fear Close:
A more extreme version of the previous one. In life insurance this was sometimes known as ‘Reverse the hearse up to the door and let them smell the lilies close’. Buy our insurance, you might die tomorrow.

The False Concession Close:
Give something away that doesn’t cost you anything, or you were going to give anyway, in return for the customers’ commitment.

The Lost Sale Or Hat Stand Close:
First seen in a 1930s sales manual. The sale having been ‘lost’, the salesman (in those days) would reach for his hat and make to leave. The customer begins to relax, the difficult situation now over as the losing salesperson leaves. However, the salesperson uses this as an opportunity to come back with a final attempt. The modern equivalent might be the shut the briefcase close.