Timing your close
By Harry Mills
| "I always win. You always lose. What could be fairer than that? "
You've been making concessions. So has the other side. But now you're getting close to your limit. How do you judge whether the other side is ready to close?
Watch for body language clues
Judging when to close is always difficult. Start by looking for signals in the body language of the other party.
- The chief executive of a food store chain, sitting arms crossed with locked ankles, uncrosses his legs and leans forward in the chair and moves closer to the senior partner of a legal firm who is presenting a proposal to take over the company's legal services.
- The manager, who was slouching and appearing bored during the debate over research and development expenditure, suddenly sits up and appears interested.
- The buyer, who appeared indifferent and was fidgeting as the salesperson talked, stops and listens attentively.
- The owner of a private company starts focusing on the finer technical points of a management buyout proposal.
- The purchasing officer for a large industrial hire firm repeatedly tests the demonstration front-end loader.
- The project engineer keeps going back to the sample component and picks it up looking for possible defects.
All of these can be signals that the other party is close to agreement or has made up their mind.
You should also listen closely to the other party's words for indications they are ready to close. Listen out for questions such as:
- Can you have your auditors in here by April 6?
- When can I get delivery?
- When do we have to pay for it?
- How could we extend the warranty from 18 months to two years?
- What is the minimum order required for the binding machines?
- When could you begin training our staff?
These often mean the other side has already mentally agreed and is ready to close.