Closing scares the hell out of people. It may be the biggest fear in sales. It feels pushy. It evokes the haunting image of the sales stereotype. If you haven’t done it, it can feel mentally crushing. But I have good news; it’s no big deal. Easy to say, I know, but it’s true. As you do it more it’ll get easier and this will become more obvious to you. Remember that people expect to be closed. They entered into a sales situation. There is no mystery about what you guys are doing together; they’re looking at a product, and you’re trying to help them figure out if yours is the right one. Everyone knows this. At some point you’re going to move on from the investigation phase and they will make a decision. This is a surprise to no one. Even better, there are ways to soften the process of asking for the close. I’m going to tell you the simplest, most stress-free way to close that you will ever learn, and I want you to commit to trying it. Here it is: “So, what do you think?” Ta-da! You’ve tried to close a sale, and you didn’t break out in hives. There are probably thousands of ways to close, and you can find many dozens of books with advice on this topic. I am a fan of softer closes; they just feel less jarring to me, and they fit with the sales culture at Fog Creek better, but there are certainly harder closes you can employ, and there are times when these make sense. “Harder” in this context means more direct, not aggressive and obnoxious, by the way. Here are some other soft closes you might try. “When should we talk next?” “What’s your deadline for making this decision?” “Is there anything at this point that would stop you from proceeding?” “Have you heard enough from me to make a decision?” I don’t think any of those are too terrifying to try. To employ a slightly harder close you might say, “If I’ve answered all of your questions about the product, can we discuss pricing and how to proceed with the purchase?” In the sales books you will probably run across something called the “presumptive close.” The presumptive close assumes the sale, and usually goes something like this, “So, who should I address the invoice to?” Please do not ever do this. It’s terrible, it reeks of the sales stereotype, and it will tend to generate stiff resistance because you’ve just become the guy with plaid jacket, toothy overbite, and dual gun fingers.