There are hundreds of books and recordings available on closing the sale. So why doesn't the average salesperson perform to his or her potential?

Maybe they're falling back on various myths, which I'll address in future columns. One such myth is that big discounts close the sale; look for a future column titled “The Big Drop Is a Big Flop.” Another? Two-step closing; look for a column called “Getting Out of Step and Losing the Sale.”

A third: so-called “special” pricing; to be covered in a column titled “Let's Make a Deal,” about that decidedly dated concept.

IN THE REAL WORLD Now, how about the realities of selling? Closing is less of a mystery when you understand this statement: “Closing the sale is the natural conclusion to the satisfactory completion of each step of the selling process.”

That's why many sales are lost before you even get into the prospect's home, such as over the phone by unwise qualification processes, at the prospect's door by inept opening statements, or by failing to allow sufficient time for a “walk around” or needs assessment.

More reality: Where are you getting your statistics and information regarding how to sell more with the same number of leads in the same amount of time? Customers' buying methods, values, and attitude about salespeople are changing daily. Your sales method must be built on this rather than on your personal values, philosophies, and opinions.

In short, the prospect/customer is the key ingredient in a sound sales methodology. How the prospect thinks and feels has to be the major consideration in the development of a sales system, or that system will not produce the results intended.

ANALYZE YOURSELF Now some self-analysis. Is your presentation becoming longer and inclusive of more information, while resulting in diminished customer interest? Does your presentation book start out with your company name or product instead of what the customer may need? Do you really know how to do a “walk around/needs assessment”? Do you quote price before you've sold value or hold the belief that your brand, reputation, or a sizeable discount will carry the day?

Stay tuned for answers about what you should do. —Dave Yoho is president of the oldest, largest, and most successful consulting group serving the home improvement industry;;