Are High Pressure Closing Methods Ever Justified?


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“Alan, you’ve been a real professional during this process; I’ve grown to trust you, and I honestly like you. You’re going to get this order. That is, if you don’t mess it up at the end.”


It was early in my sales career and I was sitting across the desk from my client, a bank president.  It was a complex solution situation that had been playing out for months.  He was finally holding my sales contract, valued at over one million.  This deal would make my numbers for the year, secure a promotion, and I was replacing a competitive system, making the win as sweet as they come.  As you might guess, my mind set was in “closer” mode.  I was now trying to force my will on him.  I wanted him to sign the contract right then and there in order to make it official.

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NCR Corporation account executives had always been known for their sales ability.  The training received was second to none, and I was now leveraging that education for all that it was worth.  I wanted the deal to close, but my client was pushing back.  Actually, he was trying to coach me.  He was letting me know that an aggressive closing strategy was not going to overcome his objection and make him sign that day, and that I needed to turn the pressure down.  Thank goodness I got the message and made the right adjustment.

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When you’ve been working a deal for months and are moving towards the close it can be difficult to resist the urge to apply some pressure.  In fact, lots of pressure; because by the end of a long competitive sales cycle your brain (and sales manager!) is screaming enough already!  After all, you want to close the sale before something happens to cause the deal to fall through.  Big deals derail all the time and no one fights you harder than a major solution provider who is about to be thrown out.

So, what was the hang up?  As it turned out, the president had decided to bring in a new VP to oversee operations.  That meant he still did not have everything quite lined up the way he wanted.  But I still had fears with that type of objection.  What if the new executive wanted to start the operations review all over again, and in the process change the decision?

In the age of social networking this is where I would normally explain how my online skills saved the day by immediately reaching out to establish a relationship with the incoming executive.  But this situation occurred long before LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.  In fact, Google wasn’t even around.  Then this story is ancient history!  What could we possibly learn from it?  Well, first of all, that this isn’t a story about overcoming objections, high pressure sales tactics or reacting to the introduction of new players during the sales process.  However; it does present a lesson on why it can be useful to establish a solid relationship at the highest point possible within an organization.  Are you building rapport, developing credibility and establishing trust at the highest-levels within your targeted accounts?  If not, you should probably consider it.

So, did I finally get the order signed?  The president didn’t sign it.  He had his new operations executive sign it.

Getting the order signed

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. I think if you have to resort to pressure tactics to close a client, you probably didn’t build enough value along the way. Build enough value in your product and people are going to want to close without you having to pressure them.

    Having said that, I think there’s a place for building an appropriate sense of urgency to get people to move forward, but you there needs to be a legitimate reason for doing so or it’s just pressure tactics.

  2. If you and your client are on the same emotional wave length, and see mutually beneficial value in a deal (recognizing that urgency/time can, in the right circumstances, be a value element), then high pressure will only create disquiet, distrust, and negativity. It shouldn’t ever be needed.

  3. Abraham Lincoln wrote, “A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.” If the goal of the high pressure close is to provoke compliance, it just might work. But, the goal of a long-tern customer relationship is commitment, rarely achieved through a full-court press…just ask your spouse. Great sales professionals rely on building partnerships. If effort has been devoted toward fostering trust and effective mentoring, the reliance on tricks and pressure is likely perceived as defensive overkill. Sure there are prospects who enjoy raising “gotha” objections just to feel a since of power and control over the sales person. But, most prospects today find the hard sell approach of the stereotypical used car sales person to be offensive and rude.

  4. What is business without urgency? Buyers certainly have it, and so do sellers. In the former case, urgency is viewed positively – “motivated buyer.” In the latter, it stinks – “high-pressure sales.” That seems unfair.

    What’s “high pressure” to one buyer might feel benign to another. Sellers should not be shy about asking for an order. After all, most buyers today would be naive to think the sales rep they are dealing with does not have a quota knife dangling above his or her head, or a decent bonus or commission carrot pending. For me, it’s hard to say what’s “high pressure.” In fact, it feels downright weird when salespeople seem blase. “Well, whenever you make up your mind, just get back to me . . . .”

    Much about how people respond to pressure is based on maturity, culture, and personal style. I don’t expect that every salesperson I work with will match the way I approach things. Where there’s friction, I speak up. And when something’s particularly problematic to me, I walk away. Most salespeople understand that. I certainly have.

    I draw the line with ethics. I have never found a situation when there is justification for lying, cheating, or stealing to make a sale.

  5. I think MH is correct. And, in my experience, one of the major reasons why prospects take things slow even if you are creating significant value is you did not listen or question enough. With a great value story there has to be a significant doubt still existing in the prospect or another unspoken obstacle. Maybe the money is not available now but will be in the short term. Maybe an influencer is not convinced or feels left out if the sales person is focusing on the prime prospect.

    Remember that at least B2B buyers are rational and a delay usually indicates that doubts or other obstacles remain. It is the role of the professional sales person to dig out and resolve the remaining issues.

  6. I always push back on heavy-handed sales tactics. I can make up my on mind and don’t need, or appreciate, a sales person’s overbearing tactics.

    I have been in sales roles and are aware of the pressures associated with that. But a forced sale may not lead to future sales for fear of the same uncomfortable process.

  7. Newron’s third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    So for every push, there is pushback.

    Sometimes there is a fine line between a “nudge” or an incentive to act and a push, but once that line is crossed the adverse reaction can be severe. Good for you in knowing when to pull back avoiding a reaction that would have undercut all of your efforts.


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