The Skill Builder: The Probability Close

By steven s. west

If I could single out just one technique that has dramatically improved my personal sales performance, I am sure that technique would be The Probability Close.

This close is one of the important new advancements in professional selling. Here’s how it goes:

When the prospect gives you that famous, “I want to think it over” or some variation of that objection, try saying, “Mr. Prospect, that would be perfectly fine. I understand your desire to want to think it over, but let me ask you this – when I call you back next week, what is the probability, in percentage terms out of a total of 100, that you and I will be doing business?” Then pause, and don’t say another word until the prospect speaks.

The prospect’s response can generally be divided into three possible categories:

1. More than 50 percent but less than 85 percent. If your prospects respond in this range, try to ask them what the remaining percent is against, then pause and don’t say another word.

When you become skilled in this technique, you will actually see prospects blink as they focus on their real objections.

Many times, we hear that prospects want to think things over. It is not because they want to delay the decision, it is because they don’t fully understand what is bothering them. The Probability Close permits your prospects to focus in on their real objection. Once you have a real objection, you can then convert that objection with a persuasive sales argument.

2. Above 85 percent but not 100 percent. If they’re in this range, you recognize that there is a minor probability against you, and you might want to say, “As it is almost a certainly that we’re going to be doing business together, why wait until next week? Let’s go ahead right now, and if you decide in the next couple of days that you want to change your mind, I’ll gladly tear up your order. But let’s get a running start on this project together.”

When prospects indicate a very high percentage of probability, you can use their own statement as a lever to push them over the top.

3. Less than 50 percent. This is a signal that there is little, if any, chance that you will ever close this particular sale. The only appropriate tactic is to go back to square one and start the reselling process. It is amazing how many professional salespeople take a look at a closing situation and expect the prospect to say 80-20 as a probability in their favor, and instead hear “80-20…against.”

The Probability Close permits prospects to focus in on their own objections. It allows the true, or hidden, objections to surface. You’ll soon realize that the more prospects fight you and the less candid they are about the probability of closing, the less likely they are to buy anything.

The Probability Close can do wonders for your closing ratio and convert mystery into momentum.

Exerpted from the book In Search of Sales Excellence: The Fifty Greatest New Sales Techniques You’ve Probably Never Heard About Anywhere Before by Steven S. West.