"THE CLOSE" is sales jargon for the bit where you ask the customer to make a decision or to place an order. However, it doesn't always relate to sales. Many people feel uncomfortable when they ask someone to make a decision.

The reason people find it difficult is that they hate the word "no" or hearing someone say: "I don't want to do it" or even "I'll think about it".

They take it as rejection and most humans just hate rejection.

I am reminded of the salesman whose wife asked him how well he had done that particular day. "I got three orders today," he replied. "Get out, stay out and don't come back."

If you have done a good job of finding out a potential client's needs and presenting how your product, service or idea meets his needs, then closing will be a natural step in your dialogue.

The goal in closing is to reach an agreement with the other person on the appropriate next steps. It might be about signing an order, or arranging another meeting or a demonstration of your product.

You close when:

* the customer indicates that he is ready to move ahead, either verbally or non-verbally (that is, he gives you a buying signal);

* the customer has accepted the benefits you have described. He might say: "I like the sound of that" or "That looks OK to me." They may even be smiling, nodding or looking expectantly at you.

1. Review the benefits.

When you presented the features and benefits of your product or service, you should have checked that the customer accepted these benefits.

Now is the time to review these benefits. You might say: "As we have discussed" or "Let's go over what we've agreed so far".

2. Propose the next steps.

This is where you ask for whatever the objective of your call was, that also fulfils your customer's needs. You are asking the customer to make a commitment. However you are also making a commitment to satisfy the customers' needs.

You might say: "If you produce a purchase order, I can put it through today" or "I'd like to arrange for our engineers to familiarise your people with how this machine will cut your costs".

3. Check for acceptance.

This may sound fairly obvious and logical, but it is the final part of the closing process and many people avoid it like the plague -primarily because they hate to hear "No".

You could say something like: "Can you arrange that?" or "Is that acceptable?" or "How does that sound?"

You are either going to get a "yes", a "no" or a "maybe" when you ask your closing question. If you get a "no" or a "maybe", then you will need to deal with your customer's resistance - but that's another story!