How to close

Good morning Predictable Revenue community,

I sat down last night with a founder from the community to give him some feedback on his pitch. He’s built a pretty interesting product for a well defined niche but hasn’t been closing as many deals as he’d like. I took a few notes during our conversation and thought I’d share. 

I knew it wasn’t going to be a perfect call when he insisted on pulling out his deck. Personally, I hate sales decks. Professionally, I understand there are occasionally times when they can be helpful. The biggest reason slide decks suck in a sales conversation is they are built on the assumption that the person putting the deck together knew exactly what you wanted to see ahead of time. 

This is never the case. 

The best part of talking to a salesperson is you get a bespoke experience. A good rep will have a deep understanding of the problem space, ask questions to understand your circumstances, and only share relevant information. 

Great salespeople are great problem solvers. We are the catalysts that bring the benefits of our products to the customer.*

If you want to be a catalyst, you need to start by asking questions and you absolutely need to listen more than you speak. A slide deck puts you into presentation mode. 

*thanks Darius, I stole these words from our conversation yesterday. 


Step one to closing a deal is understanding the progress the prospect is trying to make. If you lead off with a 15 minute presentation, at best you’re delaying the start of the real sales conversation. At worst, you’ve already lost the sale because the prospect turned off their video and started checking their email. 


Step two in closing a deal involves determining whether your solution can help the prospect with their desired progress. If you’re not going to be able to help, it’s best to find out before you’ve put too much time into the conversation. Working a deal is hard work. So be honest with yourself and your prospect, it’ll let you focus your energy on deals that have a better chance of closing. 


Step three in closing a deal involves making the business case. There is only one reason a business does anything, profit. There are three slightly higher order reasons that all lead back to increasing profit: 

  • Grow revenue → sell more things 

  • Decrease costs → lower the cost of the things I sell 

  • Decrease risk → lower the probability of losing future profit 

If you cannot tie what it is that you do to one of the above, you’re going to have a very hard time getting deals through the door. 


Step four in closing a deal is overcoming the inertia of doing nothing. Making a change in an organization means more work and political risk. If your Champion is going to take on that risk, they’re going to need to understand why their company will lose X in profit for each day they hesitate to pull the trigger. 

There are no magic words.

When I first got into sales, I remember reading books furiously to find the magic words I needed to say to get prospects to buy. I found many books that claimed to know the words but they were about as useful as a parachute made out of forks. What we’re putting together in each of the steps is a logical argument for doing something now. If your logic is good then people will buy. 

Try on this shirt.

One thing I think many salespeople get wrong is they think of prospects as adversaries. Objections need to be overcome, negotiations need to be won, and closing is something we do to them. It’s less fun this way. I prefer to team up with a prospect to assemble the logical argument together. At the end of each step, I’m summarizing what we’ve learned and asking the prospect to try it on and see if it checks out. 

Here, let me sell you on reading my newsletter using this process. I’ll pretend we’ve had a few conversations and gone through the steps. Here’s a rough summary I’d share at the end of each of the conversations. 

Progress: It sounds like you’re a founder responsible for revenue and you’re looking for guidance on how to find more customers. You’ve built a great product, have some good early traction, and are trying to figure out how and when to invest in growth. What did I miss? 

Fit: We talked about how you like to learn and it sounds like reading around 1500 words every week is the right amount of time you want to invest at this stage. Did I get that right? 

Profit: You are currently selling N units every week and by reading these 1500 words it sounds like you might be able to capture an additional unit every week. This means you would increase revenue by an additional Y this year. Is my math right? 

Urgency: You mentioned that you either need to show a profit by August or raise another round. If you’re not on track that’ll mean cuts to your team and a lower growth rate for the year, which would make raising cash more difficult. How am I doing so far? 

At this stage, you can feel if the rock is rolling uphill or downhill. If it’s rolling downhill, they’ll be asking you about when they can get started. If it’s rolling uphill and you’re losing momentum, then chances are you’ve missed something. 

How’d I do? Will you buy a subscription to my newsletter? You get 1500 words, delivered right to your inbox, every week, for 12 easy payments of zero dollars. 


PS - I wrote this immediately after a conversation with Darius from MEDDIC Academy. He’s the master of finding urgency in a deal and I’m interviewing him about it on my podcast in a few weeks. If you want to listen in to the recording or set up a Q&A with Darius, hit me back and I’ll see if we can set something up.