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Why Closing Gambits Don’t Work on Large Sales

Posted by James Muir on Wed 25-Mar-2020

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The Perfect CloseJames Muir is the best-selling author of "The Perfect Close" - a book that leverages the latest science to show why applying the old counter-productive closing tactics are holding salespeople back. I'm delighted that James has agreed that I can republish the following article as a guest post.

James explains why the traditional crude closing techniques taught in conventional sales training, far from improving our chances of winning a deal, are actually counter-productive in complex high-value B2B sales...


Proponents of closing gambits would have you believe that these approaches can be applied effectively across a wide spectrum of sales—everything from rocket wreckage to everlasting Gobstoppers. Research suggests otherwise.

What does the data say?

Neil Rackham discovered in his research that closing techniques can indeed be more effective when the scope of the sale is small.

What the study found is that when the value of the goods being sold was small, use of closing techniques both speeded the transaction time as well  as the number of transactions resulting in a sale.  The study showed in selling low-value goods, employing closing techniques improved performance by 4%.

4% Increase

However, as the value of the goods being sold increased, success in the transaction reversed and closing became counter-productive.  So while attempts were up and transaction time was speeded in the study, overall success dropped measurably in the high-value goods arena.

High-Ticket Items

Why does this happen?

Rackham describes the phenomenon this way, “The psychological effect of pressure seems to be this. If I’m asking you to make a very small decision, then - if I pressure - it’s easier for you to say yes than to have an argument. Consequently, with a small decision, the effect of pressure is positive. But this isn’t so with large decisions. The bigger the decision, the more negatively people generally react to pressure.”

Rackham went on to observe, “By forcing the customer into a decision, closing techniques speed the sales transaction.” And that, “Closing techniques may increase the chances of making a sale with low-priced products. With expensive products or services, they reduce the chances of making a sale.”

An important point

This is an important dynamic to be aware of when planning your efforts to close sales.  With expensive products or services the use of closing gambits reduces the chances of making a sale.

What is the threshold?

So what is the threshold? At what price point do closing techniques become counter-productive? Amazingly, in Rackham’s study it was only $109.

While your situation may be different, all of the people I work with sell goods and services with values higher than this level. So if you are selling a lot of stuff lower than $109, maybe now is the time to whip out the Double-Reverse Close. On the other hand, if your solutions are somewhere north of this, the idea that using closing gambits is effective is not only wrong—it is counter-productive and will sabotage your closing efforts.

Closing Tip:  With expensive solutions using closing gambits reduces your chances of making the sale.

About the Author

James Muir ResizedJames Muir is the founder and CEO of Best Practice International and the bestselling author of the #1 book on closing sales - The Perfect Close. James is a 30-year veteran of sales having served in every role from individual contributor to Executive VP. His mission - to make the complex simple. James has extensive background in healthcare where he has sold-to and spoken for the largest names in technology and healthcare including HCA, Tenet, Catholic Healthcare, Banner, Dell, IBM and others. Those interested in learning a method of closing that is zero pressure, involves just two questions and is successful 95% of the time can reach him at PureMuir.com.


I'd like to thank James once again for giving me permission to republish: his original article was first published here. You can follow James via his website, LinkedIn and Twitter, and you can buy his book on Amazon UK here.

Topics: Closing, Value Selling System