The proper sales process ends with the close. All salespeople should aim for this objective. Unfortunately, not all salespeople are aiming correctly. Without the proper training, a salespersons' aim is off the target from the start, unless they are lucky.

If luck would get the sale a high percentage of the time, we wouldn't need salespeople at all. Actually, a lot of companies have people in sales positions who want to sell but aren't properly trained and prepared to sell. There is a lot of preparation and training needed before one can be a professional salesperson.

A salesperson doesn't just try to close. The correct process allows the closing to happen at the proper time.

All salespeople want to close the sale. Or do they? Some don't want to go anywhere near the close. Yes, there are important steps to be taken after the sale, but the sale itself culminates with the close.

Usually the salesperson doesn't want to close because they don't know how. The novice will talk about a lot of things and tend to wander to avoid the close. Subconsciously, some novices realize they haven't properly prepared for the close so they don't ask for the order.

It is taught that fear of rejection is the biggest obstacle keeping salespeople from closing. Other issues can combine to overwhelm the salesperson and keep him or her from closing. These include fear of rejection, lack of knowledge, lack of skills, lack of training, and lack of control.

Many people enter the field of sales with a false perception. Some think all they have to do is be a good conversationalist. Others who enter the sales field think it is easy and you get rich quick. Both groups of people learn quickly that professional salespeople have lots of training.

This awareness brings on fear because they are reluctant to tell their managers they can't sell because they aren't prepared. This starts the excuses why they didn't get the sale. Usually they say it was lost to a lower price because that is the best way they can explain it, not knowing how the professional salesperson closed over them.

I believe there is another fear that is even bigger than the fear of rejection. This is the fear of inspecting ourselves by doing a true self-examination. One must look inside oneself to be honest about one's desire, preparation, and motivation. This has to be accomplished before one can tackle and successfully handle all the other fears.

Self-analysis reveals a list of things that we need to work on. What we should do is make a list of these items and use it as a training agenda. The true sales professional does this continually and plans a training program that includes getting help from others that have been successful in sales.

Without enough proper training and preparation, the salesperson will continue burning leads and missing sales. Once the salesperson is trained, he or she will start closing more sales.

A professional salesperson is no longer affected by the fear that paralyzes the novice. This is because professional salespeople are trained and prepared; therefore, they are in control and have a high level of confidence. This automatically puts the customer at ease because people sense they are working with someone who knows what he's doing.

The most natural thing in the world to trained sales professionals is the close. This opens the next part of the process - referrals. A well-executed close puts the customer at ease, reduces the buyer's fear, and makes receiving referrals a normal and easy part of doing business.

Guest columnist Mack Heaton has assumed the seminar and consulting practice of the late Tom McCart, No Secrets Inc. He can be reached at 803-318-2383;

Publication date: 12/20/2004