The Benjamin Franklin closing technique is as old as the name makes it sound, but is still widely used in the decision-making process by many individuals. Benjamin Franklin is famous for being a United States founding father, however beyond that he helped teach about money management. He also had a few inventions and was an entrepreneur who started America’s first fire company and first fire insurance company. Even with his diversified talents and influences, in his personal life he identified as a salesperson. Continuing, even to this day, his ideas have been sold to many generations, passed on even after he transitioned.
The Benjamin Franklin closing technique it’s a classic way of closing a sale. Used generation after generation by salespeople who found themselves facing a very indecisive client, and no matter how big their efforts, they were unable to close a sale in any other way. In these, what seem to be no win situations, the seller would say: “Ben Franklin is known as one of the wisest men in America, wouldn’t you agree?” “When faced with a difficult decision, he would take a plain piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and would list the positive reasons and the negative reasons for that decision. In his wiseness Ben Franklin knew that by listing all the positive elements on one side and the negative elements on the other side, his decision would become so much easier because the pros and cons were right there in front of him.”
The seller would then take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center, making two columns, one for reasons to make the purchase, and the other column with reasons against making the purchase, hence the name The Balance Sheet Closing. The salesperson would encourage the prospect to remember the conversation they just had and would ask their prospect to dictate to them the positives, recalling all the good things that were mentioned about buying the product, while he would write these things down. Then they would say, OK let’s list the negatives, and would hand the pen to the prospect and push the list towards him without saying a word. They are counting on the fact that after listing all the positive reasons and benefits for buying that product, usually a prospect could only think of negative reasons having to do with price or affordability. Then they would either try to manipulate the potential client into buying by just literally counting the number of reasons in both columns, or they would illustrate how the “cons” spoke only to cost, advising again of the value of the product. If they just relied on the number of pros vs. cons, without an additional strategy or discussion, they might upset the buyer, who would walk away and never look back.
The Balance Sheet Closing technique can be very effective when it’s formulated and strategize in a more intentional and intelligent way. First, you can use the balance sheet technique to help you prepare for the sales presentation, by simply taking a piece of paper or creating a document on your computer, with 2 columns: pro and cons.
On the positive side you can list the prospects’ needs and wants, the questions you will ask, the benefits of the purchase for them, a couple of personal points you have in common to discuss, and you can list why you believe they will buy. In the other column you can make a list of the reasons why you might think they will not buy and include your responses to those possible objections. This way you will be fully prepared for a prospecting interaction. You can create a general balance sheet template with pros and cons for each product or service package that you have to offer, and then personalize it for each client.
You can also use this technique to get your prospective client off the fence, because one of the worst things in sales you can hear is not necessarily No, but I don’t know, and in that case, you want to find out the objections and what holds them back so you can respond to those concerns and turn it into a closed sale.
As an example, let’s say you are trying to sell a treadmill product. Let’s assume you are at the end of your sales presentation and the client says “I don’t know what I should do”, and no matter how hard you try, they still seem unable to make a decision either way. You could always say “OK, why don’t you take a few days and think about it and then we’ll get in touch again to see what you decided.”, but instead, you would use your balance sheet and start writing down the prospects’ pros, saying something like “From our conversation so far you have said that the treadmill will help you save time on your work-out routine, you also said that it’s convenient because it’s at home. You also mentioned that it also saves you money on gym membership and that by using the machine at home you can be closer to the family. You mentioned that you like investing in a warranty covered, long-lasting piece of equipment. We also talked about the size and color of the machine fitting well in your workout room, as well as the fact that you love having a Bluetooth connection available on the treadmill to listen to your music and that you also love the HD screen that comes with it so you can watch your favorite show while you’re working out. You indicated that you like the fact that it can be delivered within a week, and we found a day that matches your schedule best. Am I missing anything? or “can you think of anything else?”.
In response, the potential client will eventually say “No I think that’s everything”, at which point, a reading recap of the pro reasons will take place. Once that is done, you can say: “OK now, please fill out the other side”. This is a specific strategy in which you, as the salesperson, would not write down the negative points like you did with the positive reasons, but instead you will ask the prospect to do it because you want to let the prospect feel free to list all the objections and negative reasons for not making the purchase. This process will help you understand the point of the objections and once you have an objection you can turn it around and find a way to sell the product.
This is the strategic difference between the classical Benjamin Franklin close and the modern Benjamin Franklin close turned into a balance sheet, with the main purpose being to switch the prospect from “I don’t know” to the point where they reveal the true reasons that hold them back. Once you have the clarity of those true objections, now you can decide in which direction you want to go to close the sale.
Author: Sanda Kruger
Sanda is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, health coach and professional dancer. Sanda is an entrepreneur with more than 20-year experience in business development and project management in the fields of life, health and fitness coaching. She is also a real estate investor and a banker, who learned outstanding adapted business strategies, sales and marketing techniques, communication, and goal setting skills, hands-on, through life and work experiences. She is a certified fitness professional and is the creator of two original fitness programs, called BellyCore® Fitness and AquaCor®.