Closing Techniques: The Use Whenever with Whomever Close (Part 2)


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If you remember from last week, what I finally decided I needed was a single, all-purpose close, granddaddy of all closes, a close I could use at any time with any buyer. So I sat down and I pondered, then I wrote and pondered some more. I’d role-play, write, rewrite, ponder and role-play again. Finally, after trial and error, minor success and major failure, I struck the mother lode, the ‘use whenever with whomever’ close. Here it is:

“Have I proven to you that we have what you want to buy?” That’s it! Believe it or not it really is that simple. If the answer is yes, you proceed to an agreement. If the answer is a no or a maybe, you’ve opened the door to a discussion of what the buyer needs to see to be certain you have what they want to buy.

So, it turns out we don’t need a book to learn how to close. It is as easy as posing that one, simple question. It is the logical conclusion to both the process of selling and the process of buying.

Don’t get me wrong. I do get why people have written entire books on how to close. It is absolutely true that closing can be very uncomfortable for both buyer and seller. Unfortunately, the solution in the past has been the use of techniques that deal with the symptoms instead of the real problems. Rather than addressing the cause of the discomfort associated with closing, we’ve been taught to try to disguise our closing questions. We have been taught to hide them or sneak them in, or we have been taught to ask questions for which the answer is virtually meaningless. Questions like “Do you think we have met your application?” and “Do you think our company is capable of providing the level of service you require?” tell us little or nothing about what our prospects will ultimately buy. Worse yet, In some cases, the discomfort for the sales person is SO great, they actually fail to ask final closing questions at all.

First of all, not asking a final closing question is totally unacceptable. How are we to know whether or not our prospects are taking ownership of our position if we don’t ask? In order for a sales professional to do their job they have to know where they stand relative to their and their prospect’s objectives. Secondly, by trying to hide or disguise closing questions we run the risk of not getting accurate or valid responses, or the effort to mask is so transparent, we ultimately harm our credibility.

So you can thank me later.

“Have I proven to you that we have what you want to buy?”

I just saved you a lengthy ordeal with an 800-number call center, an endless series of ‘upsell’ attempts and the wait for your book to arrive.

You now have everything you need to ‘close.’

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Nicols
Bob Nicols serves as Founder and CEO of AXIOM. He has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN.


  1. Okay – so this guy is on track but it could be done better. Asking "Have I proven to you that we have what you want to buy” is a yes or no question. I want a yes, or “yes if you…..” response.

    You should ask “What would have to happen for you to move forward with us today”. This is very tasteful and will grab a response. This question gets one of two responses 1) you get the sale 2) you get the objection, if one exists. It also forces them to present the REAL objection so you can answer it and close the deal.

    Learn more about my process at

  2. Great observation, Mike, and I have no problem with the question you suggest. As a matter of fact, both your question the one in the blog are intended to determine where you and the buyer are relative to your mutual objective. If a prospect or customer gives you an audience, it is always with the objective of determining whether or not you have something they want to buy. As a result, by default, the salesperson’s objective is the same. That’s why we spend time qualifying opportunities. “Have we proven that we have what you want to buy?” isn’t in questionable taste nor is it a ‘closing line.’ It is the natural conclusion to the buyer’s decision process. With or without us asking, they will eventually have to answer that question. If you ask it, it will always ‘grab’ one of three responses: ‘yes, no or maybe.’ A ‘yes’ should result in an order. A ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ opens an opportunity to uncover ‘real’ objections or conditions under which the buyer would proceed to an order. The truth is, “What would have to happen for you to move forward with us today?” would be a great follow-up question for a ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’ response. If you choose to ask it first, the conversation just takes a different route to the same conclusion. If a buyer gives you a list of things that need to happen, the first thing you would have to do is determine whether or not you could do those things. If you can, that answer represents a ‘Yes’ if the buyer moves forward with an agreement. If you can’t do some or all of what the buyer asks and their decision is contingent upon your ability to do so, or they say there is nothing you can do, you have a ‘No’. If you are uncertain whether you can do what the buyer wants, you have a ‘Maybe.’ “What would have to happen for you to move forward with us today?” becomes a disguise for the real question. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed countless reps who jump through hoops to do what a buyer says needs to happen to ‘move forward’ and still not get an order simply because the words ‘move forward’ are ambiguous. If you want to avoid ambiguity and be certain you know where you are relative to the buyer’s true objective, “Have we proven that we have what you want to buy?” is as direct a route you can take.


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