My Favorite F-word

3 min readJan 11, 2024
If I had a dime for every time a salesperson tried to finish a sales call with “What do you think?”, I’d own a yacht!

In this story: How to finish a sales call by asking the right closing questions.

Written by Maria Edelson, Founder & CEO of Edelson

It’s the most iconic Hollywood sales moment: Alec Baldwin’s “ABC: Always Be Closing!”

But life’s not like the movies. In real life, salespeople hardly ever close, even the best ones… sometimes especially the best ones. The problem is they don’t ask the right closing questions.

The right closing question is a yes-or-no question, like this:

“Do I have your agreement to ________?”

What goes in that blank is your selling objective.

Here are some good finishing questions:

  • If the selling objective was to get a pilot or test: “Do you agree to start the pilot or test on January 1st?”
  • If the selling objective was to get an order: “Are you ready to order today?”
  • Or maybe the objective for this call is to move to the next step in a longer process that involves connecting with the Operations Manager. In that case, the closing question is: “Are you ready to move forward to the next step with your Ops team?”

Suppose they say “yes.”

Good, but beware: once the customer has said “yes” to that question, you need to follow up with a validator. This helps you avoid what we call “twirling” — the customer said “yes” but they didn’t really mean it, so they take no action and nothing happens. The point of the validator is to make sure that when the customer says “yes,” they mean “yes,” and they move on to action immediately.

A validator is a request that demonstrates skin in the game. You are requesting that the customer takes an action or provides some information which confirms they’re serious.

Here are some examples of closing questions followed by validator requests:

So, are your salespeople closing? Are they doing my favorite f-word — finishing? If not, why not? And then, are they taking the next step to ensure the customer really means “yes” by validating they have “skin in the game”?

Now, what if your salespeople are asking a good closing question, but the customer doesn’t say “yes”? What if they say, “I’ll think about it” or “Let’s talk about it in a month”?

Feedback is a gift. Let us know what you think about this story in the comments below.

This is part 7 of Sales Bites, a 12-part series of stories from 35 years of sales experience with P&G and from training 13,000 sales executives globally. Follow or Subscribe below so you don’t miss the next story.

Next Up: No’s in Disguise




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