Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 42: Q & A with James Muir Best-Selling Author of The Perfect Close


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Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron RossJosiane FeigonMeagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at and subscribe on iTunes.

Our guest this week, referred by Deb Calvert, is James Muir.

Hear about

1. Fear of asking to0 early or being pushy.

2. Fear of the “No”.

Both of these involved in feeling manipulative or moving the process too fast. You need to have an idea of your ideal outcome of the meeting, but you should also have a couple of positive alternatives.

Catch this full episode for more tips and check out James’ site –

Matt:  All right, awesome. Well thanks Paul. Thanks everyone for joining us. Another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Catch us every week live 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific every Thursday. We cover the gamut of the sales pipeline, the entire pipeline from engagement to lead generation, to opportunity creation and close.

And we are super excited to have you here today. For those of you live, thanks very much for joining us. We are a week away from Thanksgiving as we record this, cannot believe that. I was in Starbucks this morning and they’ve had Christmas stuff up for a while but I don’t know when they did it but really this morning they were playing Christmas music and you know what? I was okay with it. We are close enough now, if we are week away, if I need to start worrying about when to thaw the turkey I think it’s okay for me, that’s my personal justification that I can start listening to Christmas music.

So wherever you are, whatever your holidays, I hope you are planning on enjoying some time the next few weeks with family and friends. But what that means is we are towards the end of the quarter, we are towards the end of the year, we are trying to hit that final number for 2016 and accelerate ourselves into 2017. And what better way to talk at the end of the quarter, at the end of the year than the author of the book, The Perfect Close.

So excited to have the day with us as our guest on Sales Pipeline Radio James Muir. James thanks for joining us.

James:  Thanks! It’s exciting to be on the show.

Matt:  Oh, I really appreciate you taking the time. I know you have been out and about all year not only sort of running your business as an author, a speaker as an advisor to a number of companies but want to talk a little bit about the book – The Perfect Close: the Secret to Closing Sales – Best-Selling Practices and Techniques for Closing the Deal.

And maybe first, just start by your career and expertise covers a wide variety of sales topics. This book talks about the end of that process. Talk a little bit about why you chose this angle as the topic for your new book.

James:  Well I am actually an accidental salesperson myself. I started out as an operations person in the family owned revenue cycle management business and I would very often go out and help sales reps and sales calls. And then we acquired a business in another region and we ended up meeting and operations person who could also sell. So I ended up getting drafted for that.

And so I suffered a little bit myself from not knowing what to do at the end to advance a deal or advance a meeting to the next stage. And then later as I became a trainer, I noticed this problem with, especially domain experts or people that were sort of not always in sales, they weren’t full-time salespeople, they actually confessed to me that they actually hated that part of the job. And so I created this method as an output of… or an outcome of my own personal experience in trying to have these folks basically wrap up their business or help them advance their sales.

Maybe I should couch that just a little bit. Statistically what happens in most cases is no question is asked to advance the sale at all. And it depends on the industry but it’s about 50% and 90% of sales meetings and without any person asking for any sort of commitment at all so it’s a big problem; the problem of not asking at all is actually quite a bit bigger than asking the wrong way.

Matt:  So it’s interesting, we’ve got sales reps and many experienced sales reps and many successful sales reps that it seems like when you ask them what are the parts of the sales process that you like the least, it’s the beginning and the end, right? It’s the cold calling, it’s the outreach, it’s the initiating that cold conversation. Even if it’s a referral, even if it’s an inbound lead, I mean you haven’t talked to them so that initial conversation, your call reluctance comes from that. And I am always shocked to hear the percentages of people that don’t ask for the deal. I mean what is it in the psychology of sellers, the psychology of people that keeps us from asking for the business, asking for the close at the end of a meeting or when the time is right?

James:  Well there is actually a bit of science along that on the closing side of it. And if I just boiled down to it without going through the data, it would be that if salespeople aren’t comfortable with the method that they’ve been taught to close; they say they feel like it’s manipulative, then what happens when it comes to time to actually advance the sale or get any kind of a commitment, even a partial commitment, well since they don’t feel comfortable with the way they’ve been taught, they don’t do it at all. And so that’s the reason that nothing is happening is essentially they feel like it’s manipulating.

And to solve the problem you just do the reverse. If we teach them away that is in alignment with their personal value then it’s not manipulative, then you essentially solve that problem.

Matt:  Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with James Muir who is the author of the best-selling book The Perfect Close. I highly encourage you to check out his content. He’s got tons of great content on his website which I am definitely going to have to spell. It’s Pure you can get a copy of his free report: The Seven Deadly Sins of Closing just by checking out the website so make sure you check that out as well.

I think you outlined a number of reasons why people are afraid of asking for the close and I like that you actually get into asking for the partial close, right? Like what is the next step, what’s the next commitment you can get from a prospect?

And you’ve spent a lot more time on this than I have but with the people I’ve talked to and when I think about this for myself, is the two things I think about are one – the fear of asking too early and seeming pushy and two – is the fear of getting the no, right? And maybe you can kind of break that down, maybe we can talk about each of those separately. Talk about the fear of being pushy, the fear of stop selling early first and then we will get to the fear of getting the no.

James:  Well the best approach is one that the client is ready for; that’s pacing at the rate the client is waiting for. And the problem is we don’t always know that. We don’t always know exactly where the client is at and so if we just phrased our ask in the right way then we can ask them if the timing is right without leading us on emotionally lower ground.

The typical close literally is like 99% of the close techniques that are out there, they are all manipulative and they are all asking the customer to do something. And they are going to close different, it’s essentially a timing question at its core, we are just asking you if it’s appropriate to do something right now. And if they answer no to that, if the client said no I am not going to do your thing, what they said is the timing is not right now and then he would just fall back to one of our other possible advances that we are going to ask them for. But what that lets us do is move forward at a pace that the client is ready for.

Matt:  So what about the fear of getting no, right? I mean this happens throughout the sales process. We talk to a lot of people even in marketing about what of asking the hard questions early which is a different way of saying qualifying that someone is interested and the right prospect for you to move forward. So let’s assume you’ve done all of that and so if you’ve done all of that well, if you’ve qualified the prospect, if you’ve built some mutual value, what are people still afraid of going for the close?

James:  Again it’s because they feel like they might either be manipulating the client or they might moving the process forward more quickly than the client is ready for. And to be candid, if you are trying to move the process forward faster than they are ready for, it’s going to feel manipulative to the customer.

So maybe I can sit back just a second and frame this up a little bit by saying when you go into any meeting it’s really important that you have an idea of what you want the outcome to be. And you should have a couple of alternatives too because your ideal outcome may not come to fruition but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road, it’s not all or nothing. There might be a couple of secondary things that you can do.

And so the way that The Perfect Close is framed is we are just going to suggest that it makes sense to do one of the things that… What your ideal outcome is and there is only two answer to that question; you are either going to say yes or you are going to say no. If they say yes well great, we are off to the races, we’re going to move forward with our ideal event. If they say no which was your question then we are going to fall back to that second question of the two questions which is at its most basic version, well what’s a good next step then? And we can let them tell us what the next appropriate advance is.

There are some variations to that because we prepared in advance a couple of other alternatives we could actually suggest one. And that’s very appropriate and value adding for customers because they may, with whatever you are offering very often in their life, in some cases once-in-a-lifetime. So for you to say other clients at this stage typically do something like this and then suggest that, you are being of service to them. So those are the two questions though of the perfect close; does it make sense to do X? – Whatever your ideal advance is and then if they say no like you suggested, then we are going to either fall back to – well what’s a good next step? And we will let them policy it or we might suggest one.

Matt:  It’s something that’s so simple and yet so elusive for so many people and I think what’s interesting is I hear you talk. I mean as we are talking about the perfect close and getting to the end of the deal. But its efficacy. It seems to me the effectiveness of that approach relies on everything you’ve done to that point, right? You are talking about building rapport, building trust, building credibility with that prospect; focusing on their outcomes, the need that they have. If you do that well, not only have you earned the right to ask for the business but the approach you are taking is far more likely to succeed. Does that sound about right?

James:  Yeah, 100%. Let me though, add a little bit to that which is if you are in a kind of sale where there is only one meeting then what you said is right on the money. But in a lot of other kinds of sales, there are a lot of small ask, lots of little commitments that lead up to the big commitment. And then the nice thing about this approach is you can use it on every single stage at every part of the sales cycle where you are advancing them through all these minor commitments until you get to the final commitment where you are giving a contract. So in that way we are pacing it. And maybe it makes sense to dissect the question just a little bit because – “asking the question doesn’t make sense,” is not at all the same as “will you buy?” Or “will you do this thing?”

And so if you say hey, will you do this? And the customer says no, well you are kind of back to square one and you definitely at emotionally, a lower state. But if we say doesn’t make sense for us to do this? And the customer says no well they can see that we are just being consultive, right? We are saying okay is the timing right? And so you are emotionally on a much higher ground when they, regardless of their reply to that question when we say doesn’t make sense.

So it’s very… When people first do it, I have trained it a lot of times and they can get it wrong. And so doing it the right way helps us pace it at the way that the customer is ready for and also removes a lot of the anxiety that the salesperson might have in asking the question because we are really just saying is the timing right?

Matt:  Absolutely. Talking today with James Muir who is the author of the best-selling book – The Perfect Close. I definitely encourage you to check out his website at to learn about James, read more about his great content, download his free report The Seven Deadly Sins of Closing.

James I mean you talked about different types of sales, you’ve got your one call close, you’ve got your complex sales and different approaches. Big companies, little companies, are there situations where you would vary this approach any other ways or other industries or nature of business or nature of buying process where there is a variation of this or is this work pretty standard across environments?

James:  It really works pretty good across the board. The only place where I would say it’s not as useful is in opportunities where the meeting and the close all take place at the same time where there… It can still work because even within that one meeting there are some small mental advances that have to take place before you get your deal. But that’s very… You would be dissecting your meeting down into very small chunks if you chose to go that way. It’s really best fit for the opportunities that take two or three or sometimes 10 or more types of visits or advances with the customer. In this way we are able to move forward at a rate that’s with the customer but we are maintaining momentum throughout the whole process.

Matt:  Got it. Great! Well we are going to be right back after a quick commercial break. More with James Muir, we’ll talk about closing strategies and what leads up to that. We are going to talk about what we’ve got coming up here in December and share with you a few other tips and tricks on managing the sales process as we get near to the end of the month and then of the quarter and the end of the year. Back in a couple secs. This is Matt Heinz, we are listening to Sales Pipeline Radio!


Paul:  And now back to Matt and his guest!

Matt:  Awesome, thanks very much Paul. Well I want to thank everyone again for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. If you are listening live, happy week before Thanksgiving. If you are listening on the podcast thanks so much for joining us here. If you want to follow the podcast you can find us on the iTunes Store at the Google play every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is available on demand through our podcast as well as on and we also feature a transcript, an edited transcript at the end of every page here on

Next week of Thanksgiving, we are going to take a break. We are going to be all about family and turkey and football and lather, rinse repeat. It’s going to be a good day. So we are going to take a day off Sales Pipeline Radio, we will be back on December 1. Very excited to have our guest on December 1 – Paul Smith who is the author of numerous books about storytelling and its impact on sales and marketing. He has written the book Sell with a Story, Lead with a Story. And the one I probably want to spend the most time talking about; Parenting with a Story. So can’t wait to talk to Paul Smith December 1.

December 8 we are going to feature Jessica Fewless she runs field marketing for Demandbase and if you are doing anything in the realm of account based marketing, if you’ve heard of it, if you are aware of it, if you are confused by it you don’t want to miss or conversation with Jessica Fewless at Demandbase. We are going to be talking about how account based marketing has evolved, why it matters going in 2017 and how to bring it into your organization today. However we are going to spend a little more time with James Muir who is super excited to spend a few minutes with us talking about his new book The Perfect Close. You can learn more about that on his website Find that on Amazon of course.

And James, it’s interesting as we think about selling, we are sort of here towards the end of the year and it’s kind of a nice time to reflect on what’s happened in the year both from our performance standpoint as well as impact of what we see and moving to next year. If you were to write this book again now as we head into 2017, is there anything that would be different? I mean now that we are seeing greater complexity in the buying environment, we are seeing fewer decision-makers you can again unilaterally say yes. CEB now says there are 6.8 members on average of the internal buying committee. People are spending a lot more time buying, people are crazier busy than ever. Does that impact the efficacy of strategies like this? Does it change the way you would approach it?

James:  Well, you would be using the same… The book is essentially about a technique is so you’d be using that technique against multiple different decision-makers within a complex sale like you described. So the 6.8 that we are going to have to encounter; you would be advancing the sale for each one of those independently and of course that’s one of the things that makes a complex sale complex, is so many different buying influences as you go through. So I probably wouldn’t change the book much.

In fact we had to cut a ton out of the book in order to keep it down to 300 pages. So there’s a lot in the book about how to run a meeting and how to make sure that you are adding value to every single meeting and then how to make sure that you are advancing it and keeping momentum going every time you have a meeting within the book. So I don’t think it would change too much, it’s very much evergreen type content in there. The biggest probably aha for many people is that there is a way to advance the sale that’s in alignment with their personal values and that selling is service and that’s a big mindset shift for a lot of salespeople.

Most of the people that experience some kind of reluctance – and by the way this would apply both to people initiating outbound calls during the beginning of the sales cycle as much as it applies to the people at the end of the cycle where we are trying to close, is that if they truly understand that we are actually trying to help the customer, we are trying to serve them, well then most of the anxiety around contacting people completely disappears. I mean a good way to think about it is that when anybody is trying to accomplish something new we all would love to have a coach that would help us move forward towards our goals at our own pace. We would all love to have that.

Well if the customer is trying to get somewhere. In fact if they weren’t, they wouldn’t need you, right? They would need to be having a conversation with you. So they are looking to us to be there coach to help them get to the next level. So that makes selling more than just about persuasion or something like that. It really makes it about coaching or about leadership and so in that sense it’s a much more noble thing. And so once we made that mind shift that we are helping it makes it a whole lot easier to advance the sale as well as initiate a call.

Matt:  So this show ends up getting almost more marketers listening than salespeople and I am super humbled by that because we call this Sales Pipeline Radio but I think it’s particularly important for more marketers in B2B to understand sales, to understand what salespeople go through, to understand how sales works. Even though this book is focused on the close, I feel like it has, I mean as I read through this, I felt like there were a lot of great strategies in here for marketers, even marketers that are focused primarily on the top of the pipeline generating interest and demand.

Talk a little bit about what lessons there are explicitly in this book for marketers to take a way to do their job to provide demand and provide the support that sales needs to be successful.

James:  Okay, well actually I… There is a paradigm in the book that is used for planning for a meeting. And marketers generally are the ones tasked with creating the material that salespeople go to fight with, they go to battle with that content or with that collateral.

And so the three questions that should be asked, again marketers could ask themselves as they develop this content is why should this client see me? That is the first question. In fact let me just say what the three are; why should the client see me? What do I want the client to do? And how can I add value on this encounter? And those three things, the answer on every single meeting.

And so that first one – why should this client see me gets right to the core of the value proposition.  If we don’t have a very solid value proposition of white it’s a benefit for the client to meet with me then you should meet with them, right? And the second question is what do I want the client to do? – is what I was describing before. We should go into every encounter with an ideal outcome as well is maybe some potential other outcomes that may be are not as aggressive as our ideal outcome but still things that continue to move the process forward and that applies to any stage of the sales cycle. And then lastly is what value can I provide on this encounter?

I think marketing is doing a pretty good job of grasping this one which is we need to be able to provide something about the meeting with the client that is inherently valuable every time we meet with them, every time they should be getting… What we are doing is we are training them that we are a value-added resource every time they encounter with us. And what that does is that keeps them engaged with us and looking forward to every meeting with us. And then the classic client going silent and not engaging with us as end after we’ve given your proposal, that won’t happen when they see us as adding value at every given stage.

And so marketers can really help salespeople with all three of these things, they can help educate them on the kinds of insights, they can make sure that there is value given on every single stage every single meeting.

In terms of what we want the client to do that’s mostly a planning function. There is an exercise in the book where you can plan what are some typical advances that we might do. And so maybe marketing could help at each given stage suggesting some logical advances that might be appropriate for a given type of buyer. And then back to number one – why should the client see me? This just means communicating to the salespeople in a very strong way, what’s the value proposition for this particular client?

And once clients… In fact you want to know my advice Matt is during the on boarding process, new salespeople should be taken to a client or at the very least have a meeting with a client either be it via WebEx or a phone call so the client can actually describe to them how it is that they used the product and why it’s so valuable. When they experience that firsthand, they believe. And so all the processes that happened later, all the outbound calling, all the advancing, because they understand it really does create value they don’t hesitate.

In fact, for my company we have an on boarding program where we do an internship and we put them out at a client site for two weeks so that they can experience first-hand what the value is that the client gets and once they get out into the field, talking to a prospective buyer they can say well when I did my internship we did this, this was the value that we got. Maybe that was a long-winded answer but that was the three things I think marketers can do to help sales.

Matt:  That’s really helpful. Well we are wrapping up here with James Muir who is the author of the best-selling book The Perfect Close. I highly recommend getting a copy of this on Amazon. Check out his website, we will have a link to that in our call notes and in the notes of the podcast and you get a free report – The Seven Deadly Sins of Closing.

As we wrap up here James, we appreciate your time. What do you do to stay on top of your game? I mean obviously I think you’re out and about talking to customers; a lot of your insights by expect would come from the field. But for the sales and marketing professionals that are listing today, what are some of the other sources of information, what are the other publications that you are looking at to continue to feed your learning as well?

James:  Well I think that continuous education is absolutely a requirement today. And so I listen to a lot of podcasts. I have listened to every one of your podcasts to date, it’s excellent material. You are giving a good crosscut across the entire pipeline with your podcast and there’s a lot of others out there and they cost nothing. All they require is identifying which ones are the good ones and then getting onto that. And salespeople in particular think are very good at… Enjoy listening to information and so that’s a great resource.

I also have a couple productivity hacks. I have software that reads things to me and it can read PDFs, it can read almost any kind of document; a website or anything and that’s very valuable if I am trying to understand material that would never be available in audio form, having that software be able to read it to me allows me to absorb that information while I am going down the road or why I am in an airplane or any of those sort of less accessible reading material. So we can do a whole session on productivity but those are two that I need to know.

Matt:  What’s the name of that tool real quick before we wrap up?

James:  Well for android, which is what I use, it’s called Easy PDF Reader and it can read any PDF of any kind. If you are a kindle person you can also have your Kindle book read to you instead of reading it so that makes… If you are a person that through a paperback book in a flow way then you can use your Kindle and have it just read them to you.

What I would recommend in both cases is that you invest in a better voice than the voice that comes with your phone typically. And by the way, there’s apps that do the same thing for your iPhone; my wife uses it for hers.

Matt:  Where there’s an app for everything now! It’s a brave New World, is exciting. Well thanks very much, that was really good – Easy PDF Reader for android and of course with Kindle, sometimes a lot faster. And I appreciate the plug for Sales Pipeline Radio, that was not rehearsed or planned but it’s checks in the mail regardless so thank you for that.

I really appreciate our time today with James Muir who is the author of the best-selling book The Perfect Close. Check that out. We will have links with that available in our notes for the broadcast.

Thanks very much for joining us for Sales Pipeline Radio. Make sure you catch all of our past episodes at, catch us through the podcast at iTunes store and Google play. Taking a break next week for Thanksgiving, hope you enjoy the week, a long weekend with your friends and family. We will be back December 1 and throughout December as we wrap up the year, wrap up a great first year of Sales Pipeline Radio so that’s very much for joining us. This is Matt Heinz, thanks again, this is Sales Pipeline Radio!

Paul:  Well once again you’ve been surfing on long as Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing rides the sales pipeline right here on Funnel Radio Channel.


Visit – Free report – 7 Deadly Sins of Closing

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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