Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

The Lost Art of Closing - A Modern Sales Classic

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Nov 01, 2017

This post is a review of Anthony's excellent second book, The Lost Art of Closing.

The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need is Anthony Iannarino's excellent first book, (see my review on Amazon), but it turns out, it's not the only sales guide you'll ever need. You'll need at least two more.

Anthony Iannarino in our Value Exchange workshop at Centrify FY2018 Kick-off

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He has another book project in the works and we look forward to reading it.

The "Lost Art of Closing" title harks back to the age of Zig Zigler, David Sandler, Brian Tracy, Neil Rackham, Mike Bosworth and Tom Hopkins and a period of prolific output for experts advising on the pre-Internet science of selling and the "art of closing".

This book is not one of those, although I predict Anthony Iannarino, Jeb Blount, Jill Konrath and MileWeinberg and the Authors of the Challenger Sale and Challenger Customer will become equally well known to this generation sales professionals as their forebears were.

The Lost Art of Closing is clever title as it examines the micro-commitments in the sales process required from the prospect to advance with the salesperson to the next step in the buying process.

This is a complex B2B buying process for a considered purchase, with many stakeholders, requiring a consultative or value-created selling approach. This is where buyer dysfunction means that most "buyer-led change-opportunities" do not progress through the buying process to a purchase. This is caused by:

  • fear and risk of failure,
  • too many stakeholders,
  • too many choices, and
  • rapidly changing technology

Iannarino correctly posits that the cause of low quota achievement in sales is that salespeople fail to bring sufficient value to the table for the buyer commit to the next step. "Opening is the new closing", according to Iannarino and the reasons why salespeople struggle to get meetings with prospects is that they suck at getting first meetings, i.e. they fail to bring sufficient value to a buyer in exchange for the buyer's precious time - and when they do get initial meetings they fail to create sufficient value to warrant a second meeting. "The Value Exchange"

Trading Value

This is such an important concept. I get hundreds a crappy emails from vendor salespeople every week, invariably wanting 20-minutes of my time. 99% of them are rubbish; most, thankfully, are trapped in MimeCast and don't make it to my inbox and the rest are deleted based on pattern recognition with 1-2 seconds. The same with Linkedin InMail, although I do at least read InMail.

The example of a weak value exchange in the book when asking for an appointment goes "I'd like to stop by and introduce myself and my services and learn about your business". The description of the value the prospect gets from this is hilarious, an opportunity to see a slide show with pictures of head office, list of customers etc., while you teach me about your business

What I love about this book is that Iannario provides examples of value exchange verbiage for each of the ten steps in the buying process that can be lifted directly and with a little modification, immediately applied to increase the first meeting hit rate of your entire sales team.

Instead of the prior weak example, how about this?

"Im calling you to schedule a time to share with you the four trends that are going to impact your business over the next 12 -18 months and some ideas about the decisions these trends might require you to take. Even if you never work with us, you'll ask your team different questions, and you'll have some ideas about what you need to do"

Wow! This is a better value proposition, bringing insight to the table, an opinion that they can act upon, even if they never see you again.

This principle underscores the 10 commitments required to make a sale, which are:

  1. The commitment for time
  2. The commitment to explore
  3. The commitment to change
  4. The commitment to collaborate
  5. The commitment to build consensus
  6. The commitment to invest
  7. The commitment to review
  8. The commitment to resolve concerns
  9. The commitment to decide
  10. The commitment to execute

 Both of Iannario's books, his daily video vignettes and weekly sales blogs are excellent and you can subscribe to his feed here

Topics: consultative selling, anthony iannarino, the lost art

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