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Sales and Interviewing: The Modified Negative Close


Robby

If you’re trying to win some business (or you’re trying to win the business of you getting a job) you need to “close the deal.” This is a big conversation among sales experts. One technique is the modified negative close. But hang on, we’ll get there in a minute.

Handshake
© Flickr User www.franchiseopportunities.com/

Let’s begin with the basics:

The Standard Close

One of the main reasons people don’t get jobs or get sales is that they never go for the close. That is, they never ask for the sale. This is called the “standard close” or the “positive close.” It goes a little something like this:

“You’ve seen the demo. Would you like to place an order?”

“Thanks for the chance to speak today. Are you planning to extend me an offer of employment?”

“I’m glad you like it. Shall we draw up the papers?”

The great thing about the standard close is that it is direct. You are almost certainly going to get an answer. But the problem is that the answer you are going to get is very rarely going to be “yes.” People don’t like to make verbal commitments. They are going to say “I need to think it over” or “I have to talk to my boss” or “It’s likely” or “We will be in touch.” If you can get a yes, it’s great. But it’s hard to get a yes.

The Negative Close

This is a technique where you paradoxically take the offer away.

“Our products aren’t right for everyone. I appreciate you taking the time to look at them.”

“This was a great interview. I appreciate your time, but I don’t know that I am a good fir for your firm.”

The negative close throws people off their game. Individuals aren’t expecting it, and it changes the pattern. You’ll sometime see them clamoring to come back.

Of course, the negative close is hard to say. And also, you may upset the other person, or they might just agree with you!

The Modified Negative Close

A mix of the two goes like this:

“Based on what we’ve discussed today, is there any reason you wouldn’t consider me for this position?”

“Now that you’ve had a chance to check out the product, is there anything that takes us out of the running?”

It is controversial. One writer calls it a bad idea. But there are four key benefits:

  • Imagine if he tables were turned, and the prospect was asked if there was any reason they wouldn’t consider the company. A candidate should appreciate this question. It gives them a chance to highlight any red flags before going further. The question shows a genuine potential for partnership.
  • It’s true “wouldn’t consider” does bringing potential negatives to their mind. But that’s a good thing. The real world has positives and negatives, and if they can’t think of a reason to eliminate you, that’s in your favor.
  • You aren’t usually going to hear why you’re disqualified. But there are a host of perfectly legal reasons that might come out in an interview: maybe you’re too expensive, maybe what you’re offering isn’t a good match.
  • If you have the confidence to ask something like this in an interview, you have the confidence to stand up for yourself farther down the line.

The modified negative close takes practice. But it’s worth it. Give it a try!

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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