The Greatest Closing Question Ever

Author: 
Peter R. Adam

A few years ago I was selling medical software to manage cases in vascular labs. I was working on a closing a $2-$3 million deal - the largest deal the company had ever seen – and I was heavy in discussions with the client. The bosses back home had made it clear this deal needed to close and soon.

I’d set up a lunch meeting with the chief of vascular surgery and the office manager to work on sealing the deal. We’d had a large number of phone calls and numerous demonstrations of our software in the previous 6 months. I had spent the morning with the entire vascular unit reviewing processes, features and functions, and concerns from the vascular team.

After some friendly chit-chat, we were leading up to the defining moment that I had been preparing to execute. They fired multiple questions at me as we munched on our sandwiches. In between bites, I returned their volley of objections with nearly the skill of Serena Williams.

The conversation began to slow. So I leaned in, looked at both of them and asked the greatest closing question ever: “Do I have your endorsement to move forward with the project?

Simple and straightforward.

The office manager, who had been my main point of contact up to this point, looked down and away. Even though she had directed many of our conversations and interactions in the past six months, her body language told me the decision was solely in the hands of the chief surgeon.

I looked at him and began contemplating my rebuttals if he said, “No.”

  • What would it take?
  • What would you need to see from us?
  • What is your primary concern?
  • What is holding you back from giving your go ahead?

The chief surgeon sat there quietly for what seemed like five minutes, but was probably closer to 45 seconds. He was deep in thought, and as the tension built, the more intently I looked at him and studied his face. But, I did not break the silence. Tension in sales can be a powerful tool, and I wanted it to build as he contemplated my favorite closing line.

“Do I have your endorsement?” can be a very effective commitment-receiving and closing question for these reasons:

In complex sales, there is typically more than one influencer or key stakeholder. So asking “Can we get this done this month?” may be a difficult question to answer for your prospect, even if your prospect likes you and your product/service - because that person probably doesn’t make the final decision or final call.

“Do I have your endorsement?” is geared toward the individual’s opinion, which in this case is really what I wanted to uncover and a lot safer for them to answer. If the prospect says no or gives a noncommittal answer, I ask, “Why, what’s holding you back?” or “What would it take to get your endorsement?” Once they answer the question and their concerns is on the table, I can work on overcoming the objection.

My question does not have a deadline or a timeframe. I’m not trying to hot box an individual into a corner (or month/quarter), which no one I’ve met likes or appreciates. Once I get the “Yes, you have my endorsement” (or a “Yes, I like you, your company and your product”), then I have permission to advance to the “When, how, and who else is involved?” questions.

Most professional salespeople get it out of order. They ask, “When will you order?” and then try to determine if the buyer is sold on them, their company, and their solution. In my experience once buyers verbally say, “Yes, you have my endorsement,” they rarely go back on their word. They may not own the final decision authority, but you know they are definitely going to be selling internally on your behalf.

Back to the chief surgeon. After what seemed like an eternity the Chief Surgeon looked at me and said, “Yes, you have my endorsement.” Afterward he turned to the office manager and gave a smile that seemed more like a smirk. It took until nearly 4 weeks later to receive the final purchase order; it was worth the wait. But, I knew when I jumped on the plane to go home that I had a very solid commitment and it was only a matter of time before the purchase order was in hand.

Peter Adam is an sales and marketing leader focused on helping software, SaaS and technology organizations grow revenue. Contact him at peteradamsales@gmail.com.