finish lineAn effective sales conversation moves the buyer along the sales process as you match your solution to their problems, opportunities, wants and/or needs (POWNs). Salespeople spend a LOT of time and energy in preparing for and working through their sales conversations.

And then things stall.

Most likely the meeting ended with a promise from the buyer to review what you provided and a request that you give them time and follow-up “later.” This sounded positive and off you went.

Then, your follow-ups began:

  • “Hi, it’s Michael and I’m just following up to our meeting from last week.”
  • “Hello, it’s Michael and I said I would call you this week to check in on our conversation from two weeks ago.”
  • “Good morning, it’s Michael. You had asked for time to review the information we discussed three weeks ago and thought I’d see how your review was going.”

Sound vaguely familiar? What happened? Assumptions.

Without clear actions, commitments, and time frames at the end of the conversation, there is nothing specifically actionable-no finish line in sight. The buyer did not make a decision or commitment to something specific at the end of the sales call.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, use the 3-Step Finish for all your conversations.

Check for their decision readiness. Are they ready to make a decision? Even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase decision, what is the next decision you want from them (a meeting scheduled, introduction to another person, a product demo with technical people on your team, etc.)?

Confirm the value of how you and your solution will address their problem, opportunity, want, or need.

Then Ask them for a specific decision or commitment to action.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Check for readiness:

How does the solution we discussed fit with your marketing objectives? (their response is affirmative)


You will be able to reach your target market with our software’s ability to easily segment your messages.


Should we sign the contract today so we can begin planning for implementation? or

Would a meeting with your IT technician to review the implementation on Tuesday, March 18th at 10 a.m. work?

Closing sales doesn’t just ‘happen.’ Successful closings are the culmination of a conversation (if we’re lucky) or several conversations that have advanced a buyer through the process of making a decision to do or decide something.

Following the conversation through to the finish line ensures that you, and the buyer, skip the assumptions and have clarity on the next action with a specific decision or commitment. 

Your Turn! What happens that keeps you from finishing your conversations productively each time? Leave a commentg and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of the Conversations That Sell book.