Does The Ben Franklin Close Still Work in 2021?

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Jay Fuchs
Jay Fuchs


Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents — an accomplished inventor, a brazen revolutionary, and a Class of 1968 International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee. And I'm not kidding about that last one.

All those achievements are a credit to certain aspects of his personality — his patience, his rationality, his boldness, his bravery, and his fondness for pros-and-cons lists. And, again, I'm not kidding about that last one. He really did love those, so it's only fitting that there's a pros-and-cons-oriented sales closing strategy that bears his name.

Here, we'll take a more thorough look at The Ben Franklin Close, go over the steps you need to take to nail it, and review the pros and cons of closing based on pros and cons.

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This particular technique is generally employed when negotiations are taking a turn for the worse. It works most effectively when a buyer is obviously reluctant to take you up on your offer and seems poised to cut and run.

You need to be able to recognize when your prospect is on the edge of bailing on the deal. That could be them saying something like, "I need to sleep on it," or raising a particularly tricky objection.

All told, it's an excellent strategy to have in the back pocket when deals appear to be going south — here are the key steps you need to hit if you want to do it right.

1. Present the idea of making a pros-and-cons list.

This step takes some touch and finesse. Once you can see that your prospect's interest is waning, you can float the idea of creating a pros-and-cons list with a combination of tact and assertiveness.

Don't just whip out a piece of paper and say, "Here, we're going to make a pros-and-cons list." Instead, acknowledge their hesitance, present the idea of weighing the deal's benefits and drawbacks, and stress that you're going to make the list together.

Say something to the effect of, "[Name], I understand you might be reluctant and want to give this some more thought, and given how important this decision is, I understand where you're coming from. Still, you're going to need to understand whether the benefits of this [offering] outweigh the cons. Can we put together a comparison of those together before you head out?"

2. Offer guidance, but let them come up with the list themselves — for the most part.

Here's where you play some mind games. At this point in the strategy, you're best off not taking the list and writing out every perk you can think of yourself. This is a collaborative process — your prospect needs a meaningful stake in it.

You might have to ask some questions and make some points to set things in motion, but once they're rolling, start to listen before you interject. Let them do the talking, but walk them through the points you'd like to commit to the list.

Try to guide them into answering questions about their needs, priorities, and preferences — then, subtly frame your product or service as a fitting solution for those issues when you write your pros and cons down.

3. Raise other valuable pros they might not have considered.

Once you think you've gotten as much mileage out of your prospect's self-guided efforts as possible, start raising some points they might not have considered. Your ability to nail this step rests on how well you listened in the previous one.

If you paid close attention during step two, you should have a solid understanding of your prospects' values. With those in mind, present some relevant points. For instance, say your prospect repeatedly stressed their interest in the hard, monetary value of adopting your solution but didn't touch on how it might improve customer retention.

You might want to interject with some information on how your solution has historically improved your current customers' retention figures. Then, briefly touch on the financial impact of that trend, and see if they'd be willing to add that point to the list.

4. Ask thoughtful closing questions.

Finally, once your list is set, you'll need to ask some thoughtful closing questions that might spring more points or make them realize your meeting has been thorough in identifying their concerns. For instance, you might ask a prospect, "Are there any major obstacles we haven't considered yet?" or, "Is there any reason not to proceed with this deal?"

Once you've asked these questions, try to keep quiet. Silence is one of the most powerful tools salespeople have at their disposal, and embracing it here is in your best interest. Let them think of any other issues or see that you've already addressed every point there is to address.

You might not close the deal right then and there, but if you nail all the steps, you'll keep the ball rolling — at the very least.

Pros and Cons of The Ben Franklin Close

Pro: It lets you understand your prospect's values.

The pros and cons your prospect comes up with can be very telling into their priorities and principles. For instance, if a buyer consistently references monetary value throughout their list — with points discussing aspects of your offering like your price relative to your competitors and the money they can save long term — you'll see that you should stress that side of your product or service's value proposition if the deal progresses.

Pro: It allows you to address obstacles and reservations you might not have considered.

Sometimes, buyers internalize objections — holding onto roadblocks either subconsciously or, in some cases, deliberately. The Ben Franklin Close can help bring those to light.

Working on a "cons" list with a prospect can reveal obstacles and reservations prospects might have been struggling with but not expressing. That kind of insight can help you more thoughtfully tailor your approach to account for any hesitance your buyer might be having.

Cons: It can shine a light on some particularly overwhelming cons.

Sometimes, having your prospect put their reservations and obstacles on paper can make them realize the gravity of some of those drawbacks. Expressing and facing negative thoughts instead of internalizing them can be overwhelming for some buyers — and your attempts to allay those concerns might not be enough.

Cons: Some pros you present might read as cons.

This point underscores the importance of trying to let your prospects come up with their pros and cons themselves. You're trying to gauge how you can sell to them based on their feelings, perceptions, preferences, and understanding of your offering.

You can't get overzealous about pushing every last positive you can think of. Sometimes, a point that feels like a "pro" might not come across as one. For instance, you might tout what you believe to be your product's low price — only for your prospect to point out that a competitor's price is actually lower.

By no means is The Ben Franklin Close a guaranteed slam dunk. Like any other closing method, it won't resonate with every prospect — and in some cases, it might be tough to come up with a compelling list of pros.

Still, if you can leverage it well enough to make Ben Franklin proud, you'll add another reliably effective strategy to your closing repertoire.

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Topics: Sales Closing

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