Based on the types of questions I receive from recruiters, you'd think
closing was some sort of Voodoo ritual, complete with potions, incense
and secret incantations.
To set the record straight: Closing is simply the process of helping
people get what they really want, by facilitating compromises without
sacrificing the basic goals of either party. Deals that are forced,
lopsided or negotiated in bad faith rarely stand up over time.
As negotiators, our goal (the close) is achieved when the parties we
represent satisfy their sincere and overarching needs. Our job is fun
and easy, provided we can accurately assess each side's interests,
priorities and sense of urgency. In contrast, attempting to close a deal
between two warring (or indifferent) parties becomes exhausting and
difficult. And the long-term results of such a close are predictably
The situation in the Middle East illustrates what happens when two
parties simply can't agree to terms (or abide by the terms of a previous
agreement). Despite the tireless efforts of negotiators (Colin Powell
being the latest), the cycle of violence will continue until the subtext
of ancient hostilities is rewritten.
Some Deals will Never Close
That's why it's so important to qualify both parties prior to trying to
close a deal. If you discover that your candidate has a hidden agenda, a
lack of motivation or a fundamental problem with the job he's
considering, you should disqualify the person, and avoid the trauma of
trying to force a deal that's doomed from the start. Likewise, you
should avoid working with an employer who has unrealistic expectations
regarding the ideal candidate's work performance or salary level.
To fine-tune your understanding of everyone's needs during the
interviewing process, you can use periodic trial closes. Questions like,
"Any new developments?" or "Is this the type of job (or candidate) that
looks good to you?" are designed to keep you up-to-date and confirm your
assessment of needs. In some cases, the answers might surprise you-and
may serve to expose inconsistencies that threaten the success of your
Assuming you're working with two qualified parties who are on the same
wavelength, the close is simply a matter of tying up loose ends and
getting a commitment from both sides. When complications or
disagreements occur, they can usually be resolved by applying a little
creativity or asking one or both parties to make concessions without
undermining either side's most critical needs.
If an agreement can't be reached, it's the recruiter's job to dig for
the essence of what each party truly needs to find a win-win solution.
If it's discovered that the parties- goals are in conflict with one
another, that's the point at which prayer, witchcraft or temper tantrums
are usually invoked. Or when recruiters call me for help.
I learned long ago the limitations of "persuasion" as a means of
closing. To me, closing is all about the process of qualifying early and
testing the strength of your deal through a series of trial closes.