Can’t Close?

Sales TipsA veteran sales professional started a new sales job. He was making a lot of calls, setting up a lot of appointments, doing a lot of sales presentations, but not closing any sales. He was a tad frustrated, and not used to such a low close rate. We talked. I realized he was suffering from a very common issue when starting in a new sales environment. He forgot about the customer.

Learning a new product or industry is challenging. Because of this we often focus our efforts on knowing all we can. We believe this allows us to build our case, make our pitch, and close. But it fails.


In our eagerness to learn and grow in our new sales field, we forget about the customer’s needs. We spend time and energy answering our own questions to serve our needs. When we do this, we’re putting our needs above the prospect’s. We’re soothing our pain, but not the customers. This is devastating to sales.

How do we avoid this trap? How do we balance needing to know our product, but put the customer first?

A simple tip is to make a master list of customer needs in the industry. Take the time to list the pain points – from the simple to the complex. Then, list as many as you can for the particular prospect at hand. This list will teach you more about your product than any manual, seminar, or sales training class.

Maybe your selling organic flea and tick collars for cats. What are a prospect’s pain points around fleas and ticks, and then around traditional flea and tick products? Fleas and ticks are a nuisance. They can spread disease and hurt our pets. These are simple pain points. A more complex, or nuanced pain point, might be that liquid and/or traditional flea and tick collars are loaded with harmful chemicals to both pets and pet owners- and what about kids! This is pain – you need to understand it.

The point of course is that the “Pain List” will help you develop the probing questions you need to ask a prospect so you can truly understand their pain. Armed with this information, now you can target your sales presentation to meet the specific needs of the prospect – versus spouting off about all the benefits of the product. The benefits may be amazing, but the prospect’s pain is more important.

Finally, now that you understand the pain, and present the solution for the pain, you are in a position to close the sale. For my friend, once we broke the sales process down, he realized he was pitching product knowledge versus helping a customer heal their pain. As of this post, he has made adjustments and is seeing better success.

How about you?

~ DH/Theo


  1. that is one freaky looking cat, yo. Good tips to get to know the prospects… And my dog has fleas – thanks for the tip!

  2. Sales Grail Team says:

    Indeed – that’s my Bengal cat – he’s a little hunter, prowling the house for prey (generally goes after my kids – in a playful way – I think, anyway). And yes, getting to know the prospects, and what’s going on with them is the key to helping them solve their pain – and to selling. Thanks Pedro!

    ~ Theo

  3. Seems so simple. But it’s incredible how often this happens. I’m guilty of it too. This behavior occurs less frequently once you have deep product knowledge. So it’s second nature to talk product, therefore focus can be on their needs.


  4. Sales Grail Team says:

    Thanks for your comment, Ian!

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