Closing Techniques: the Half Nelson Close

the Half Nelson CloseIn the end, sales is about closing deals. Just like football is about scoring. But just like in football, sales is not just about scoring, you have to have a good strategy and you have to understand you opponent or prospect. But when it comes to scoring, there are some incredibly nifty techniques that help you seal the deal. This post discusses one of my favourites: the half Nelson close.

The name of the technique comes from a wrestling technique called the half Nelson, which in turn is named after the British war hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, whereby the opponent’s neck is locked by pulling your arm under his and over the neck.

What is it?

Just like in wrestling the half Nelson close in sales is about gaining the upper arm. A half Nelson close is very similar to a direct close in that sense that you ask directly for the sale. The difference is that you present your prospect with a condition that is favourable to him. The idea is that the prospect is presented with this extra positive information that makes him decide to buy.


A half nelson close usually starts with “would you” and “if” Examples are: “Would you go ahead with the purchase if we gave you a ten per cent discount?” or “Would you consider buying this product if you would get a second one for half the price?” Or even better: If we were to give you a ten per cent discount, would you go ahead today?” or “If I can schedule you in for today, do you want to go ahead right now?”

How to make it work

The trick is to get your prospect to commit to buying straight away. Make sure you phrase your closing line in such a way that your prospect can only benefit from the additional information if he commits immediately.

Now, if you want to use this technique to its fullest potential, this is how you structure your pitch. In you presentation, make sure to get your client interested in your product. Get him excited about the offer, but don’t give away the best aspect (e.g. a special discount offer, or an additional service). This will be the ace up your sleeve. Then ask your prospect what he thinks of the offer. If he sounds excited already, you can easily seal the deal by telling him about the special offer.

If the prospect is clearly unsure, you can use the “ace up the sleeve” to tip the scale in favour of buying. Say something like “If I can manage to get you an extra ten per cent off, can we sign the paperwork today?”

The half Nelson close is very powerful if used correctly. Practice it regularly and master it. If you do, it will definitely help you sell more, I guarantee it!


  • Einar Wus says:

    Good article Tom. A similar technique is the “ask the manager close”. You call your manager to ask whether or not you can get a discount on behalf of the client. Now the other person feels obligated to buy.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Einar,

      The good old fake phone call! I used to use that technique a lot myself when I still worked in direct sales.

      This technique can also be combined with the Half Nelson close; e.g. “If I call my manager and ask him to lower the price by 10 per cent, would you be happy to proceed today?”

      Do you know any other closing techniques?



      • Einar Wus says:

        There are tons of different techniques Tom. What I find works best is to wait for the prospect to say something positive about the product. When they do, I magnify what they are saying, and close.

        Example: Lets pretend I’m selling alarm systems. During a presentation the prospect suddenly say: “We have been thinking about getting an alarm system for some time now because of all the recent burglaries in the neighborhood.” This is a very powerful buying signal, they actually tell me that they are in demand for my product.

        What I do next is that I try to amplify what they are saying to me, followed up with a close. It could be something like this: “Yes, and by installing an alarm system in your house the burglars does in most cases just skip you house alltogether and try their luck on the next house. Luckily our installation team are in this area tomorrow, should I send them over?”.

        Try it! It works like a charm 🙂

  • I love if-then sentences Tom! They are great for isolating objections too.

    E.g. “If the delivery period were not an issue, would you buy right now?”

    If the customer says yes, you know exactly what you have to work on (getting better delivery conditions) , if the customer says no there are other issues you need to address!

    Great post again!

    • Tom says:

      Spot on Wim!

      Isolating and eliminating objections!

      Have you seen the new page

      Would be good to see your profile there!

      I will drop you a line.



  • Loving the comments on different closing techniques….. You guys should be contestants on The Apprentice!