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  • Bob Burg

“[Burg] has demonstrated that adding value to people's lives is the way to climb the ladder of financial success.”

~ Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame Quarterback and Founder/CEO GoSmallBiz.com

A “Helpful Close”

November 1st, 2010 by Bob Burg

After a recent speaking engagement, one of the attendees, brand new to the profession of sales, confided in me that he felt he needed to get better at doing a “harder close.” I suggested that, instead of a harder close, it might be better for him to reframe it as a “helpful close.” (Of course, even better would be a helpful open but let’s take it one step at a time.) 🙂

Often, those who’ve never before held a professional sales position equate sales effectiveness with high-pressure closing. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

“After all,” I asked, “do you tend to buy from someone who ‘hard-closes’ you with lots of self-serving pressure?”

“Absolutely not!” he replied.

“Why then,” I responded, “do you feel anyone would want to buy from you that way?”

I could see he was relieved, as a high-pressure, hard close was not in alignment with his personal value system. He had simply accepted the pre-conceived notion associated with sales being this way.

Keep in mind; people buy because they perceive a worthy enough benefit to owning your product or service and how it will meet their needs (fulfill a desire or solve a problem), not because you need the money or are pressuring them to make a decision they feel would be wrong.

Sure, every so often a high-pressure salesperson makes the sale, but he or she typically cannot maintain the relationships with their customers that earn them steady referrals. And that is one difference between the average and the super-successful salesperson.

Question for discussion: Have you ever known someone who progressed in sales after reframing their thoughts on sales itself? Did that happen with you? Please share with us. I think those kinds of stories are always encouraging.

11 Responses to “A “Helpful Close””
  1. Amy Wells said at 10:09 am on

    I love your timing, this just happened Saturday:

     A fairly new employee “reframed her thinking” from selling to serving and the results were astounding. “Lorraine” had every ability to be my best employee, yet I saw her struggle by getting irritated when she witnessed a mom and bride “tiff”. And when the bride appeared over demanding, her usually good work additude changed from helpful, to, don’t be telling me what to do. LoL

    Therfore our Saturday morning meeting was focused on some questions I’ve learned from you, Bob. Why does a bride come to our Salon? To find her dream dress. What are we here to do? Lorraines answer was, to sell her a dress. I asked her how she felt about being here to “sell her a dress?” Her answer didn’t surprise me at all. She felt like a tire kicking used car sales person. That must be an aweful feeling… one in which I’ve not had to feel.  Ive heard enough about that phrase that I knew she was coming from a mindset of shame after a close, which was effecting her close ratio. (by the way, I have a cousin who helps people buy used cars, and there is no shame to how he does it. Not all people in the car business have the “used car sales man” mentality or morals. Just sayin! )  

    I asked her to rethink her role, because it is one of a servants heart, not a car sales man. Our bride came here, because she has researched our product and we have something that may work into the vision she has for her wedding. She took the time to arranged for her family and friends to come with her to be a part of the choosing of the gown she will be married in. We “get” to be a part of a girls most important day.

    I gave a few hinters about listening to what the brides needs are and meeting those needs by teaching her what your role is and will be through the ordering process. This also eases some of the brides and their moms anxieties about buying their gown. Which sometimes translates into the demanding and crabby behavior that shook Larraine up. Also, when a bride feels beautiful, she acts more beautiful too, so do what you can to enhance her beauty.      

      I watched Lorraine for 6 hours, as the bounce was in her step and she got to serve. By changing her thinking from selling to serving, she helped four brides and 19 brides maids, purchase their gowns that afternoon.      

    When we reframe our thinking from I “have to sell”, and put up with crabby brides, to I “get to show and teach” the bride how to get her dream dress and ease her anxiety,  The results are astounding. 

    In reality Bob, we don’t get to decide who will buy our product, we get to decide how we serve. After we serve, it’s up to our bride to make the decision of whether or not we “get” to take her to the finish line of something she has set out to accomplish. 

  2. Bob Burg said at 10:16 am on

    Amy, all I can say is…AWESOME!! This, my friend, is why you are so successful. Because of who you are. And, part of that is being able to teach “who you are” to others and help them to be *their* best, as well. Thank you!!

  3. Amy Wells said at 10:34 am on

    So sweet. Thank you Bob and I have to give credit where credit is due. I have an amazing and giving mom, step dad, dad and step mom. Serving came naturally to me through them. Look up Mother Teresa and and you’ll see a portait of my mom. And you my dear Bob have the largest role in the, me learning how to “be able to teach others…” part. I was the worst at training, I would tell them, do as I do, not as I say. LoL Your blogs, tweets and Endless Referral Seminar with Dondi Scumaci in San Antonio, gave me words on how to describe and teach what I do. Thank you isn’t enough…. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Bob Burg said at 10:37 am on

    Sounds like you have an amazing set(s) of Parents! And, as for your kind words about me?…I can only hope you know how much that means to me, my friend!!!!!

  5. Amy Wells said at 10:51 am on


  6. Ryan Biddulph said at 12:34 pm on

    Hi Bob,

    What some seem to forget is that force negates. As you note if we don’t like pushy closers, why would somebody like that type of behavior from us?

    Be helpful. Assist the prospect in seeing how your opportunity can benefit them, then leave the rest to the universe. If you are in alignment with your ideals either the close happens, and was meant to be or the universe has a more prosperous relationship waiting if you can let go.

    Thanks for sharing your insight 🙂


  7. Bob Burg said at 5:40 pm on

    Ryan, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Much appreciated!

  8. Hi, Bob!

    I’m catching up on your blog, so please forgive me for responding more than a week after your initial post–but this entry reminded me a lot of an experience I had a few years ago.

    The music duo I play with was attending a huge convention, and we’d been invited to join a number of artists and crafters who had set up an “art walk”–they would lead conventioneers through several hotel rooms set up with their wares.

    So we would wait in a hotel room until a group of visitors (“potential customers” in the minds of the crafters) came by. To give you an idea of the mindset of some of the artists, when the first group entered, one of the artists greeted them with, “Hi! Come in! Buy things!”

    Well, my guitar player and I just sat back and gave the visitors a chance to look at the wares, then just as they’d glanced over the last of the displays, I’d say, “Would you care for a song? Do you like sweet or silly?” After a song or two, the visitors would notice our CDs, and very few walked out without a whole set.

    At the end of the night, the artists were asking if I had magical sales powers. 🙂 Back then, I hadn’t read your books and didn’t know how to articulate what I was doing, but I hope the crafters picked up on the right approach anyway!

    Thanks so much,


  9. Bob Burg said at 1:20 pm on

    I love it! Way to go, James!

  10. Cathie Heath said at 10:29 am on

    Always the purveyor of simple truth, Bob!

    Although I’ve done videos and written articles on this topic
    before, your post inspired so many thoughts that I found I
    had to write about it again. (mentioned you in it, too! 🙂 )

    Moving in service is one of those evergreen topics that bear
    repeated discussion.

    Thank you.

  11. Bob Burg said at 11:02 am on

    Cathy, what a kind compliment. Thank you! (Please post a link to your new article so we can all learn from it.)

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