closing the deal

Charm can be an amazingly effective tool in sales – and in life. Charm can build a person up. A charming person can make another’s day better and create a fond memory (if one is lucky). At its essence, charm is about making people feel better, because happy people are easier to deal with. You could imagine it as a sort of defence mechanism, I suppose. It can be a way of anaesthetizing people into a state of calmness and joviality. Essentially what we are doing is learning how to sell—but we must always remember there is a line between charm and manipulation.

The difference between bettering yourself as a salesman and trying to force action from other people is a big one, if thinly divided. If your goal is to manipulate, then your charm will never blossom the way it could, and people will be able to taste that in your speech and action. Charming salespeople mean well and progress through obstacles the best way they can. Manipulative people back customers into corners and cut their throats when all other avenues are exhausted. This type of behaviour is identified quickly, and if the obvious moral dilemma isn’t clear to you, then you should at least remember that it will absolutely obliterate your referral rating.

Most of us will attain charm through bold and funny conversation, for just an instant, then shrink back into ourselves and watch how the people around us are reacting. It is in this action that we lose it, and in this moment we are, again, “not charming”. The reason for this should be obvious if you’ve taken the time to observe the steps carefully.

Confidence is the key: freedom from inhibition—or, more accurately, freedom from self-imposed social restraint. Charming people are not worried about how they come off, while at the same time they hit each and every polite and fun social cue correctly. They do this because it is who they are. It appears as if politeness and correctitude are coded into these people’s very genetic makeup; they have a somehow preternatural sense of what is and is not pleasing behaviour. They do not shake hands firmly and laugh at jokes and maintain eye contact because they are worried about you not liking them or because they have been taught that is how you make friends. They do it because it just makes sense; it’s instinctive. That is why we are usually so wary of charming people. They just don’t seem real enough.

When it’s done right, words like art and beauty leap to mind, as opposed to attempt and failure, and sleaze. When a person has managed to analyze the world around them well enough to mirror back all the positives and very few of the negatives—really and truly incorporate that into their personality—it is a wonder to behold, and I’d recommend it to anybody. We must keep in mind here that we are not talking about changing who you are. We are talking about the way that you present yourself and the effect you have on the people around you.

It is important to remember the key to selling is honesty, integrity and a balance of charm. Put yourself in a buyer’s mindset the next time you do a sales presentation. Sell to others the way that you want to be sold.

Closing is (arguably) the most important stage in the sales process. It is your Grail, your target, the meaning of your quest. It is the undertaking that you strive for.

After all, what is a sale without the close? Simply put: it’s non-existent.

I once watched an orientation video featuring the great story Glengarry Glen Ross, in which they outlined their foolproof tactic for directing a sale as follows: ABC

Or, in more detail, Always Be Closing

This is not the right strategy at all.

If you are always closing, you are clearly not listening. Closing is an end-stage proposition, not a state of mind you can expect to carry you throughout. It is a place you want to arrive at, not a country whose flag you secretly harbour at all times. Trying to end a sale at every juncture is rude and transparent, and your customers will not only quickly realize your plan of attack, but they will be offended by your lack of interest in their needs.

However, it’s the right idea. They even got honourable mention in the movie Jerry Maguire. Their idea is based around always driving toward the end, and that could not be more accurate.

You must think of a sale (and especially the close) as a bicycle. The rear wheel is the salesperson. It is the all-powerful “creator of velocity”, from which all sales and income effuse. It discharges money and prestige and traffic. Simply put, the bike doesn’t roll without this driving force.

This brings us to the front wheel, which would be the customer. He will roll if you push him correctly. He is there to be directed; his very function is to be propelled by the back wheel. The front wheel believes itself to be in control, because it decides which direction to take—what to buy, for example, and for how much. But the back wheel can and does guide it—this is your job.

You should think of the sales tools and tips in this blog as your pedals. If the bike flows seamlessly, and each part does its duty correctly, there is very little evidence of where (or even if) the accelerating force originates, and centrifugal force is assumed. This is also true with a sale; allowing the customer to believe that he is in control, while silently directing his motion, is the higher plane you are striving for. Once you can do that effectively, you will find the things you want shockingly close at hand.

Do you ever find yourself stumbling through a sales pitch?

Many sales reps use enthusiasm and charm to sell a product, but in today’s competitive market you really need to know your stuff.

Here is a helpful way to remember how to stay focused throughout the sales process in 3 easy steps:

•          Feature,

•          Function,

•          Benefit.

These three words will keep your sale on track and keep your customer engaged throughout the sale.
When doing your sales presentation, remember to include these points in your discussion.

Make sure that you point out all the features that your product has. Elaborate on this section of the presentation and really emphasize your points.

Show the relevance of your product’s features by explaining the function of these features. Demonstrate these functions with your client. Get them excited.

Now that you have presented your product to your clients and they understand the features and the functions, Show them how the product will specifically benefit them.

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself in order to get started:

How will this product benefit their life?
Will it save them time or money?
Is it a safety feature?
Whatever your product’s benefits are, this is your time to shine and make the sale.


To be effective at selling insurance you have to believe that you are protecting your customer from a pain far deeper than the cost of a monthly premium. The loss of a crippling injury can immediately change the path of your customer’s life. You are selling them a life vest that will keep them afloat.

Many sales professionals don’t think of insurance sales this way, they are afraid that if they mention insurance, their customers will only see the bottom line getting bigger and ultimately it will jeopardize the entire deal.

The fact of the matter is that insurance is a crucial part of everyday life.

Statistics show that nearly 13% of YOUR customers will suffer a serious disability. What if YOU were the salesperson that didn’t offer them insurance?

Insurance is critical, it protects our property, possessions, income, and even our credit rating in the case of an unforeseen event.

Many sales professionals don’t see the value in insurance. The best kind of insurance is the one that we will never have to use. However if the time comes that your customers needs insurance the value is priceless. It is our duty as sales professionals to inform our customers that we have creditor insurance products available.

Throughout my career, I was always an industry leader in insurance sales and I had some of the highest insurance penetration rates in the country.

I always believed in fully securing loans, but I learned quickly that many people don’t share the same opinion in regards to insurance.

I found that most of my clients were eager to purchase life insurance however they were not keen on disability benefits.

I was stumped and could not understand why anyone wouldn’t want disability insurance. Even when I would use real life examples of people that I knew who had suffered a disability, my customers still would not bite.

After many months of selling insurance I finally had had an epiphany.

I starting using this story about a fictional character named John and titled it The Man Who Didn’t Die.

I found that I didn’t have to sell disability insurance. All I had to do was give my customers this story, when they finished reading it, suddenly the insurance sold itself.

This story dramatically improved my sales and allowed me to position the insurance sale in a way that connected with my customers.

By using this tool you take yourself and your sales pitch out of the equation and allow the customer to make an informed decision on their own.


John Smith was a family man who worked hard to provide his family with a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. He considered himself to be responsible, so he purchased Life Insurance.

John felt that if he died too soon the Life Insurance would provide sufficient money to maintain his family’s standard of living; the mortgage and other debts would be repaid; Susan, his wife, would not have to go back to work; and Scott, his son, would be able to attend university. John did not, however purchase DISABILITY INSURANCE because he was healthy and didn’t need it.

One day John did suffer a prolonged disability which would prevent him from earning an income for several years!

BECAUSE JOHN DIDN’T DIE, his mortgage and other debts were not repaid. In fact, with no income, his mortgage payments soon fell in arrears and the bank foreclosed and they lost their home!

BECAUSE JOHN DIDN’T DIE, Susan had to go back to work at near minimum wage which was barely sufficient to keep food on the table.

BECAUSE JOHN DIDN’T DIE, the money set aside for Scott’s education was used for living expenses. He now has to find a job with little prospect for continuing his education.

BECAUSE JOHN DIDN’T DIE, he had to watch his family lose the standard of living he had worked so hard to provide. While John didn’t die, there were days he wished he had!

Ultimately, for most of us, financial security depends on our ability to continue earning an income,, and that income requires us to be healthy!

People are justifiably concerned about automobile crashes, home fires and deaths in the family, but statistics indicate that the odds of being disabled are much greater. On average, each year:

– 1 out of every 106 people dies.

– 1 out of every 88 homes catches fire.

– 1 out of every 70 cars is in a crash.

– But, 1 out of every 8 people suffers a serious disability.*

* Source: David Bach, Smart Women Finish Rich (Broadway Books, 2002)

In the last post when highlighting the importance of having a sales strategy I mentioned product awareness. Product awareness, more specifically product knowledge is key to having a successful sales strategy.

As critical as product knowledge is to sales success, it often gets ignored or disregarded even by the most seasoned sales person.

Once a rep has a certain number of years under their belt, they can be seen lumbering into work with the slow, bored, plodding confidence of an old stegosaurus or some weathered alpha-male Savannah cat. This sales rep has seen a few things; bosses, customers, and eager young pups have come and gone through the revolving door, and the only things they know to be constant and put faith in are sales, winning, and themselves. Their confidence is so bolstered by years of success and reaffirmation through achievement that they are utterly competent under any circumstance and will prevail, on the simple basis that they have so far.

In this sales climate, in this economy… is that still enough?

If you looked at old stegosaurus’ sales stats for 2010 the answer would be very clear.

In a world where the customer has access to endless information on the product they’re (hopefully) about to purchase you can no longer skate by. Your customer’s have likely spent a serious amount of time reading product reviews, consumer report and surfacing the web. They’re spending their hard earned cash; they want to be armed with enough information to make an educated purchase.

If you seem unsure, they will pickup on it, if you don’t directly answer their questions they will wonder if you really do know what you’re talking about.

Ask yourself this: if the customer knows more than you do, are they going to trust your guidance?

I don’t think so!

More importantly, if the customers think you led them on or lied to them, they will feel insulted and overlooked. Now that doesn’t exactly promote closing a deal, does it?

Product knowledge is never static. It’s a constantly evolving repertoire that you must have ready at any instant. Product knowledge is often overlooked and ignored as a formality, because nobody bothers with the “fine print” anymore.  In the age of facebook, twitter and google we live in a world of fine print and guess what, your customer has access to the “fine print” at anytime. It’s no longer hidden away in a mirage of indistinguishable verbiage.

It’s irrelevant what industry you’re in. Companies spend landslides of money generating product-knowledge training tools and materials for their employees, because they want to be absolutely sure you know what you’re talking about. They create seminars and Internet courses, they write literature—they do everything they can to fill your head with that knowledge and create avenues for you to better yourself while grimly expecting you not to. They flood you this way because they know they have to; if there is information everywhere, you’ll have to pick some of it up as you go, the same way that if you walk through a freshly painted business office you’re bound to get a couple dashes of taupe number five on your elbow.

What is the mystical secret to product knowledge mastery? Open your eyes and ears and pay attention.

Stay Connected

Sales Survival

Your complete guide to a career in sales, including effective communication, sales techniques, customer retention, marketing strategies, and becoming the professional salesperson.

About the Book

Selling is simple, but in today's marketplace many sales professionals complicate the process. Sales Survival is the tool that every sales rep needs for a prosperous career in sales. Author Gordon O'Neill has laid out the key selling strategies that have made him successful and is sharing them with the world for the first time.

You will:

* Learn key selling strategies, proven sales techniques, and ways to effectively communicate with your staff and customers.

* Master the art of marketing strategies that will attract new customers, increase sales, and promote customer retention.

* Discover how to build rapport and make lasting impressions, using the fascinating real-life strategies Gordon has laid out in this book.

* Become a master on the phone and attract new clients to your business.

Sales Survival will also give you the tools needed to close every sale. You will learn how to "recession-proof" by succeeding in unique markets and becoming an expert in your field. Sales Survival will teach you the key points you will need to become that expert.

You, too, can become a master at selling and can achieve your career goals.

Managing your team to success is critical in today's sales environment, and Sales Survival will give you the framework to identify coaching opportunities and to optimize your team's performance.

This book will become your reference guide wherever you sell-guaranteed!

Gordon O’Neill

Gordon O’Neill is one of Canada’s leading sales and marketing experts in the financial services, insurance, and commissioned sales fields.

Through speaking engagements, Gordon has captivated thousands of sales professionals in these fields.

Audiences find Gordon to be motivating, inspirational, and thought provoking. By drawing lessons from fascinating real-world examples, he educates and empowers decision makers. As a certified life coach and expert in neuro-linguistics programming, Gordon easily provides the necessary knowledge to make the best business decisions, utilizing his proven sales strategies.

Gordon was born into business and started his sales career at a very young age. When he was only 18, he started a career in automotive sales at a large Chrysler dealership in Toronto, where he joined a team of more than 20 salespeople and quickly went from young upstart to top salesperson after just one month. Gordon maintained top status until moving into management.

Gordon’s unique career achievements include automo-tive sales and leasing, business management, financial services, insurance, tool and die making, construction, wholesale manufacturing, retail, and landscaping. His background has provided him with the rare oppor-tunity to relate to many different business fields.

Gordon also holds certifications in Project Manage-ment, Lean Management, and Six Sigma (Black Belt).

As a manager, he was rated in the top one percent of all business managers in Canada.

Gordon is married to the love of his life, Shannon, and resides just north of Toronto in the heart of cottage country. He is active in his community as a volunteer firefighter and is involved with a specialized search-and-rescue unit. He has a passion for living life to the fullest, and for anything with an engine.

Gordon’s background and career experiences have moulded him into the sales expert that he is today, and he has helped transform the careers of many very successful salespeople.

Featured on