Actor, Peter Falk, reminded salespeople about one of the greatest sales closes of all time, “The Doorknob Close.” Tweet This
Mr. Falk played one of television’s most entertaining characters.
For years, he played Lt. Columbo, a bumbling police detective so unusual, he didn’t need a first name. Columbo was a true original. A hunched, slow-moving, law enforcement officer who wore a rumpled raincoat and smoked a stogie.
Columbo always seemed slightly confused—until he solved the crime, usually by getting the perpetrator to talk too much.
The TV detective used a technique that we in the sales trade call the “Doorknob Close.”
Columbo’s version of the close was to finish interviewing the suspect and head for the door. He would reach out for the door knob (as least metaphorically) and then turn around to say something disarming like, “Just one more thing.” (Watch the video below for examples.)
The Doorknob Close works best when the detective or salesperson has given up and is literally saying “goodbye.”
No seller ever plans to use the Doorknob Close, but it can be very useful because it contains the element of surprise.
The “doorknob close”
Let’s say a sales presentation does not go well.
There is no deal and the prospect has not been forthcoming regarding his reasons for not buying. Perhaps the prospect has ended the presentation by saying something such as, “I need more time to think about it.”
The salesperson thanks the prospect for his time and slowly walks to the door.
The seller places her hand on the doorknob and then suddenly turns around and says, “Now that the presentation is over, may I just ask . . . what’s the real reason you didn’t buy from me today?”
The Doorknob Close is powerful because it catches the prospect in an unguarded moment. The question, when posed from the doorway, almost always results in new information, which the seller can then use as an opportunity to reopen the discussion.
Caveat: Do not reward an honest answer by re-entering the room, taking your coat off and asking for another cup of coffee. The Doorknob Close is an extra opportunity to close, but be decent about not trying to force the prospect into immediately reversing his decision.
The Doorknob Close in Action
As with all the closes, there are many variations on The Doorknob Close.
One of my clients, a national retailer of automobile tires, uses what they call a “second effort” to convert the the prospect as he’s walking out the store.
A person who is leaving the store without making a purchase is not likely to return, so employees are trained to re-engage the prospect before he leaves the premises.
This technique can be used on the telephone, too, using verbiage such as “oh, just one more thing.”
The Doorknob Close has rescued countless sales through the years.
Never give up on asking one more question and keeping the dialog open. Sometimes that “one more thing” is the sale.
Every seller should know 22 ways to close
Learn more sales closes from 22 Sales Closes That Work.
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