Helping vs. Closing: A Realistic B2B Sales Cycle

I’ve closed a number of deals over my career, but not once have I “closed” a person.

That’s not how B2B sales cycles work.

When it comes to a real person—in this case your buyer—work hard to be helpful.

That means doing legwork, being transparent, and most importantly, being responsive.

When I’m in “help-mode,” I’m not concerned with closing so much as guiding an individual towards their goal.

And that’s the idea.

Closing puts you—the sales rep—at the center of the process.

Helping puts the prospect at the center of the process, where he should be.

If you run a clean sales process, provide value to the prospect, and establish a relationship built on trust, then deals will close (or not) as a function of that process (and your product).

You won’t be forcing customers into a sale that will ultimately not work for either party.

Instead, give prospects a little nudge or an incentive, but only at very specific steps, and never with intense, closing pressure.

If the ideal B2B sales cycle were graphed as a time series, it might look something like this:

Helping is always at 100.

Closing happens at very specific stages of the process in order to move it forward.

Here are the moments in a B2B sales cycle where “closing” happens—but really, you’re just helping the prospect along:

  • You’ll need to sell the prospect on the demo, but then frame the demo around her problems and process.
  • You absolutely should ask for the sale, but then help the prospect get the deal pushed through.
  • And then you might need to nudge a time or two to get the deal signed.

Be in that helpful mindset, and you’ll get prospects across the goal line quicker.

If you’re always closing, then you might be doing it wrong.