Alternative Close

by Jade Handy on September 9, 2010

On Tuesday, I talked about eliminating the middle ground and forcing a false dichotomy.  Today, let’s talk about using this approach to close more deals.  Sound good?

OK, here’s the deal, sometimes you’re going to have to give people a choice between two options.  Why?  Because that’s how people operate.  Black clothes, white clothes.  Yes, no.  Here, there.  Go to in laws, stay home.  And it doesn’t have to be opposites.  It could be as simple as option A, option B. 

Not in sales, so you can’t relate to what I’m saying?  How about in, or seeking to be in a relationship?  Do you want to be right, or be happy?  1 child and live high on the hog, or 4 children and guarantee grandchildren.  1 lump (of sugar in your coffee as in Looney Tunes) or 2?

Just like anything, excessive use of this technique is too much.  Along the same lines, so can unnecessary use.  For example, if you already have rapport, and you and the person you are persuading are on the same page and headed in the same direction (a desirable action,) then you can just suggest one option. 

For example, in a recent sale, I closed on the payment, not with “would you like to pay me now or next Wednesday,” but with “I’m ready to take payment for the work I’ve done so far.”

Much more of a soft close?  Yes.  And effective at maintaining a healthy customer relationship.  Notice I said “maintaining.”  This presupposes an existing relationship.

If I don’t have to worry about maintaining a relationship, like during the cold call phase, I’m more effective with an alternative close.  In the above example, I said “would you like to meet on this Saturday or next Wednesday.” (BTW, I preferred next Wednesday)

And my final parameter around alternative close is an elaboration on “worry about the relationship.”  This is where the wiggle room comes in.  If you have a close enough relationship, you don’t have to “worry” about it.  Therefore, there is a little wiggle room in using it with people with whom you already have a relationship. 

But, the rule about “excessive use of this technique is too much” still stands.

So, test both, not using an alternative close and using an alternative close and see what works better for you during different parts of the influence process.


You’ve got to ask yourself a question, “Do I feel lucky?”  -Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry (3 min YouTube link with “lucky” ending as opposed to the video below)

Photo Credit:   By Gabriela Camerotti No real name given on Flickr

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