Don’t get left at the altar

by on April 25, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Top Sales Dog

June is right around the corner, and that means it’s wedding season.

Which always makes me think of the final scene in one of my favorite movies: The Graduate.

You know it: Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) shows up at the church at the very last minute, with tears in his eyes and undying professions of love, and swoops Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) from beneath the very nose of her nerdy husband-to-be (whatsisname).

Everybody roots for Dustin Hoffman. But I feel bad for whatsisname. He did all the hard work. He seems like a solid guy. And he had every right to think he had a done deal.

Sooner or later, most salespeople experience the commercial equivalent of being left at the altar: the customer who says yes to your proposal, only to bail at the last minute when the ex pleads for one more chance.

I can’t advise you on your personal life, but I might be able to offer some help when it comes to sales. There’s a simple technique called the Post-Close. It can help you lock down your new buyer’s commitment and make them less likely to leave you standing at the altar.

It happens right after you’ve closed the sale. “Let me ask you one more thing,” you say to your buyer. “What do you think your current supplier will do when you tell them they’ve lost the business?”

The idea is to get the buyer mentally prepared for that difficult conversation. Because you know the other supplier will probably make a big dramatic gesture to keep the business. “Oh, they’ll probably ask for another chance, and maybe offer a price cut.”

“And if that happens, what will you do?” you ask.

What you want to hear is that the buyer knows exactly why they need to make a change. “I’m not interested in a price break,” the buyer might say. “I need to change vendors because they dropped the ball one too many times/can no longer meet our needs/don’t understand our business/etc. etc.”

If the buyer isn’t 100 percent committed to the change, now’s the time to remind them why they decided to switch. Get them back in touch with that pain.

Whatsisface, for example, should have sat down Elaine right after she said yes, and asked, “What do you think Ben will do when he hears you’re about to be married?”

“Oh, he’ll probably show up at the church and beg me to run away with him.”

“And if that happens, what will you do?”


Um? That’s not what a fiance wants to hear. Either he has to work harder to seal this deal — by reminding Elaine just how miserable she was with Ben — or think about a new deal. Either way, better to know now than at the altar.

If he’d used the Post Close, maybe Elaine would have left the church with him. If she had, I’ll bet they both would have been happier. And maybe we’d remember his name.

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