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I often hear sales leaders complain that their salespeople “can’t close.” But this is a presenting problem, not the root cause.

Closing business is relatively easy and straightforward. You simply say something like, “I believe that we’ve done enough together to move forward. Can we get started or is there something else you need from me first?” Nothing to it. As long as you’ve done a lot of things right before you ask for the business.

Here’s the root cause of closing problems:


You can’t–and shouldn’t try to–close unqualified prospects. But pipelines are full of unqualified opportunities.

Mercilessly disqualify. You don’t have time to spend with prospects who can’t buy, won’t buy, or don’t perceive massive value in what you do. Look at your pipeline now. Delete what isn’t a qualified opportunity.

Poor Process

Much of the reason salespeople struggle to close opportunities is that they don’t follow their sales process.

Follow your process. Ensure that you create value for your prospective client at every interaction, and especially focus on where they are in their buying journey. Don’t skip steps or stages, and instead ensure you achieve all of the necessary outcomes at each stage of your process.

Build a compelling case for change. Help your client build the case for change and help them build consensus. Spend more time in the process and more time meeting the stakeholders and decision-makers.

If you are simply responding to RFPs, you shouldn’t expect a very high close rate. That process doesn’t allow you to create value. That’s why it isn’t your process.

Failure to Gain Commitments

There is a delicate dance we engage in with our clients. We follow their process, or we sell them on following ours. Your process is a better process, and it helps your client make a better buying decision.

To ensure you follow your process, you have to ask for and obtain a series of commitments from your prospective client. These seemingly smaller “asks” are more important than the final “ask,” the close. Without gaining these commitments, you can’t get to the final close.

Ask for the information you need. Ask to meet with the people you need to meet with. Here is a list of all of the commitments you need.

Dealing with Obstacles

There are almost always obstacles that must be overcome on the way to a deal. If you can’t overcome these obstacles, you can’t get to a close.

Deal with the human obstacles. If someone opposes your solution, go find out why. Ask for help understanding what they might need to support you. Get help from the people who support your efforts. Whatever you have to do, get help resolving their concerns.

Deal with the solution obstacles. If you need to make changes to what you do or how you do it, figure out how to make those changes.

If you want to massively improve your ability to close, you have to massively improve everything you do on the way to that final ask. The more effective you are through the process, the more certain your close. Learning to ask for the business is useless if you don’t fix what’s really broken.


Why are you really struggling to close?

Have you done enough to deserve what you are asking for? Have you earned it?

Have you followed a process that creates value for your prospective client at every stage?

What is your client’s compelling reason to change? How do you help with that?

Do you have the support of everyone on your prospective client’s team?


Sales 2014
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 14, 2014

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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