What would Ben Franklin think of the Ben Franklin close?

What would Ben Franklin think of the Ben Franklin close?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

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, but can’t get them to budge.

Then you say, “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: “Okay, let’s list the negatives.” Hand the pen to the prospect and push the list towards him. Don’t say a word. The prospect will typically think of responses having to do with price or affordability.

In theory, this sounds like a good way to close a sale.

There’s one big problem with the Benjamin Franklin Close. Its old world selling that doesn’t work AND 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 telling you.

Should you 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, 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 cover.
  • List one or two personal things in common to discuss.
  • List the decision maker(s).
  • 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. Questions 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?

Try this new version of an old classic. Close yourself before you make the sale. Ben would be proud. So will your boss.

I think it was Franklin who said, “A close in time saves nine – objections,” but history has distorted it for the people who knit. Pity.


If you would like a few famous Ben Franklin quotes that will inspire you, motivate you and help you see the obvious in a new way go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor and enter the words BEN FRANKLIN SELLS in the GitBit box.