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Closing the Deal

Closing the Deal
CASE 6.4 Closing the Deal
Now that she had to, Jean McGuire wasn’t sure she could. Not that she didn’t understand what to do.
Wright Boazman, sales director for Sunrise Land Developers, had made the step clear enough when he
described a variety of effective “ deal- closing techniques.” As Wright explained it, very often people
actually want to buy a lot but suffer at the last minute from self- doubt and uncertainty. The
inexperienced salesperson can misinterpret this hesitation as a lack of interest in a property. “ But,” as
Wright pointed out, “ in most cases it’s just an expression of the normal reservations we all show when
the time comes to sign our names on the dotted line.” In Wright’s view, the job of a land salesperson was
“ to help the prospect make the decision to buy.” He didn’t mean to sug-gest that salespeople should
misrepresent a piece of property or in any way mislead people about what they were purchasing. “ The
law prohibits this,” he pointed out, “ and personally I find such behavior repugnant. What I’m talking
about is helping them buy a lot that they genuinely want and that you’re convinced will be compatible
with their needs and interests.” For Wright Boazman, salespeople should serve as motivators, people
who can provide whatever impulse was needed for prospects to close the deal. In Wright’s experience,
one of the most effective closing techniques was what he termed “ the other party.” It goes something
like this. Suppose someone like Jean McGuire had a hot pros-pect, someone who was exhibiting real
interest in a lot but who was having trouble deciding. To motivate the prospect into buying, Jean ought
to tell the person that she wasn’t even sure the lot was still available because a number of other
salespeople were showing the same lot, and they could already have closed a deal on it. As Wright put it,
“ This first move generally increases the prospect’s interest in the property, and more important to us,
in closing the deal pronto.” Next Jean should say something like, “ Why don’t we go back to the office,
and I’ll call headquarters to find out the status of the lot?” Wright indicated that such a suggestion
ordinarily “ whets their appetite” even more. In addition, it turns prospects away from wondering
whether they should purchase the land and toward hoping that it’s still available. When they return to
the office, Jean should make a call in the presence of the prospect. The call, of course, would not be to “
headquarters” but to a private office only yards from where she and the prospect sit. Wright or
someone else would receive the call, and Jean should fake a conversation about the property’s
availability, punctuating her comments with contagious excitement about its desirability. When she
hangs up, she should breathe a sigh of relief that the lot’s still available— but barely. At any minute, Jean
should explain anxiously, the lot could be “ green- tagged,” meaning that headquarters is expecting a
call from another salesperson who’s about to close a deal and will remove the lot from open stock. ( An
effective variation of this, Wright pointed out, would have Jean abruptly excuse herself on hanging up
and dart over to another sales representative with whom she’d engage in a heated, although staged,
debate about the availability of the property— loud enough, of course, for the prospect to hear. The
intended effect, according to Wright, would be to place the prospect in a “ now or never” frame of
mind.) When Jean first heard about this and other closing tech-niques, she felt uneasy. Even though the
property was every-thing it was represented to be and the law in her state allowed purchasers three
days to change their minds after closing a deal, she instinctively objected to the use of psycho-logical
manipulation. Nevertheless, Jean never expressed her reservations to anyone, primarily because she
didn’t want to endanger her job, which, as a single mother with two children to support, she certainly
needed. Besides, Jean had con-vinced herself that she could deal with closures more respectably than
Wright and other salespeople might. But the truth was that, after six months of selling land for Sunrise,
Jean’s sales lagged far behind those of the other sales repre-sentatives. Whether she liked it or not, Jean
had to admit she was losing a considerable number of sales because she couldn’t close. And she couldn’t
close because, in Wright Boazman’s words, she lacked technique. She wasn’t using the psychological
closing devices that he and others had found so successful. Now as she drove back to the office with
two hot pros-pects in hand, she wondered what to do.
Discussion Questions
1. Do you disapprove of this sales tactic, or is it a legitimate business technique? How might it be
morally defended?
2. Suppose you knew either that the prospect would eventu-ally decide to buy the property anyway or
that it would genuinely be in the prospect’s interest to buy it. Would that affect your moral assessment
of this closing technique? Do customers have any grounds for complaining about this closing technique
if the law allows them three days to change their minds?
3. What ideals, obligations, and effects must Jean consider? What interests and rights of the customer
are at stake?
4. What weight should Jean give to self- interest in her delib-erations? What do you think she should do?
What would you do?
5. What rule, if any, would a rule utilitarian encourage real-estate agents in this situation to follow? What
should the realtors’ professional code of ethics say about closing techniques?

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