What would Ben Franklin think of the Ben Franklin close?
The Benjamin Franklin Close (also known as “The Balance Sheet Close”) is one of the
classic old time sales tactics used to close a sale. Never heard of it? Shame on you —
not enough sales training.
The scenario is this: You’ve made your presentation, but the prospect is on the fence,
and won’t make up his or her mind. You’ve tried everything, buy can’t get them to
Then you say, “You know Benjamin Franklin was one of our wisest citizens, wouldn’t
you agree, Mr. Johnson?” (Get prospect’s agreement) “Whenever he was faced with a
decision — and he had some pretty big ones back then — he would take a plain piece
of paper, draw a line down the middle and put a plus (+) on one half, and a minus (-)
on the other.”
“In his genius he discovered that by listing all the positive elements on the plus side of
the paper, and the negative things on the minus side, the decision would become
obvious — pretty sound concept, agreed?” (Get prospect’s agreement)
“Let me show you how it works. Since you’re having a tough time deciding, lets list
the benefits — some of the reasons you may want to purchase. Then we’ll list the
negatives. Fair enough?” (Get prospect’s agreement)
Now you list every good thing about your product or service. Get the prospect to say
most of them. What the prospect says will be the main points of interest to him.
Take your time to develop a complete list. THEN YOU SAY — OK, Let’s list the
negatives, and hand the pen to the prospect and push the list toward him. Don’t say a
word. Usually the prospect can only think of responses having to do with price or
In theory this sounds like a good way to close a sale.
The big problem with the Benjamin Franklin Close — it’s Old World selling that not only
doesn’t work, it annoys the buyer. Try that close on someone who has ever taken a
sales course, and it’s an insult.
The reality of the sale is — the prospect has already made up his mind — he’s just not
So should you just forget it and never use the Ben Franklin Close. Heck no — just use
the Ben Franklin principle in a different way. Do what Ben would have done — figure
out a new way and a better way, and use it.
Here’s a powerful new way to re-use this classic close. Use it on yourself — before you make
the sales call. Use it as a preparation tool. Use it as a strategizing device. Use it to get
ready to make a big sale. Get a plain piece of paper (or your laptop), and draw a line
down the middle of the page.
On the plus side
List the prospect’s main needs.
List the questions you want to ask.
List the benefits and main points you want to be sure to cover.
List one or two personal things in common to discuss.
List the decision makers.
List why you believe they will buy.
On the minus side
List the reasons why the prospect may not buy — and your responses.
List the obstacles you may have to overcome.
Now you’re ready to make the sale, and Ben helped you.
If you use the Ben Franklin Close on yourself, before you go in to make the sale, then
you can ask the buyer intelligent closing questions. For example, question that might
lead with the phrases — What are the major obstacles… or, What would prevent you from, or,
Is there any reason not to proceed with ?
That’s a Ben Franklin close that Ben would be proud of you. So would your boss.
I think it was Franklin who said, “A close in time save nine – objections,” but history
has distorted it for the people who knit. Pity.