The Part of the Sale When Most Customers Turn Off

There is one particular moment during most sales presentations when your potential customer simply loses interest and wants it to end.

During the first morning of our training workshops a large percentage of delegates regularly remark;

“I just want to get better at closing – that’s all I really need. If I could close more sales, everything else would fall into place.”

This is partly true; however, the ability to close sales effectively has never been confined to the last few moments of the conversation.

It certainly doesn’t magically take place at end of the sales process just because that’s where the salesperson has it written down on their agenda, nor does it happen by trapping someone with a clever question or by using a particular phrase.

The fabulous motivational speaker and author Anthony Robbins tells a great story about a meeting with one of his clients, a plastic surgeon. He arrives early and, while he’s in the waiting room, picks up a book that the surgeon has written.

As Anthony Robbins turns the pages, he sees pictures of the most beautiful people on Earth, all surrounded by mathematical equations. This surgeon had actually worked out what it took to possess, and therefore also how to create, the perfect face.

It turns out that if the philtrum (the groove between your nose and top lip) is exactly the same size as your eye, your face is in perfect balance – the perfect face.

One millimetre out and you have an average face; two millimetres out (according to Anthony Robbins) and you’re butt-ugly. One millimetre out! Isn’t it amazing how something so small can make so much difference?

Let’s change the analogy.

Imagine that you’re sailing from Liverpool, in the UK, to New York and your course starts out just one degree off.
This won’t eventually get you a little way outside New York or even in the same state – one degree off sees your tiny boat floating all the way up somewhere in Canada.

And it’s the same with every sales situation you’ll ever walk into.

Take a look at this diagram.

The line across the bottom represents the perfect sale.

You walk in, ask some great questions, show them the solution and they sign on the dotted line – well done you.

The line above that – the one going off at a jaunty angle – is where most sales appointments normally end up heading.

That’s the “one degree out” sales line.

It creates what I like to call the “Commitment Gap”.

The commitment gap is the massive distance between “yes” and “maybe”, and it’s what generates the feeling of distrust that you have in the pit of your stomach when somebody is selling AT you rather than trying to help you make a great buying decision.

It also represents what happens in all those appointments that seemed to be going brilliantly, but when you asked for the business, the prospect ended up saying something like:

“Do you know what? It sounds great, but I’m going to have to think about it.”

Planting the seeds for a commitment gap at the outset means that you will fail to gain the prospect’s unspoken permission – to earn the right – to progress through the next three stages of the sales process.

Misjudge this quadrant by the tiniest degree and by the time you get to your well-practised close, you’ll find yourself miles away from a “Yes”, without even realising that anything had gone wrong.

Simply put: if you don’t earn their trust at the beginning, they sure as hell won’t trust you with their money at the end.


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