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Ninth Inning Stretch: How to End the Deal Like an MLB Closer

October 16, 2017 / by Connor Hewson




Being a closing pitcher probably seems like the cushiest job in all of major league baseball to an uninformed sports fan.

On the surface, it looks like all a closer really does is lounge around for eight-innings in the bullpen with their pals on a warm summer night, chewing sunflower seeds and bubble gum until being called out for a measly inning of work.

And at the end of it all, they get to cash in on a nice million-dollar cheque after barely breaking a sweat all year.

Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?


If your answer is yes, well, I hate it break it to you, but you're wrong.

Being a closer on a baseball team is easily one of the more pressure-filled roles on the team, night in and night out. As a closer, you are tasked with holding onto your team's lead against a late game onslaught from opposing players and fans, all with only an inning or two of work to do so.

If you blow the save, it will be your name in the headlines of newspapers and in the mouths of angry fans ranting on Twitter and talk radio. If you succeed, you will be considered an ace and an invaluable member of your team, just like legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who in June 2016 was gifted a plaque in New York's Monument Park by the team because of his years of greatness.


In sales, being a closer on a team closely mimics that of baseball, almost eerily so. Sales closers are tasked with getting a deal done and simply can't take no for an answer. They are the last line of defense and the final push for a deal.

They are also the individual that a sales team relies on most when it is all said and done.

A closer must bring their best stuff to the pitch every time they step out onto the mound or into a boardroom, no questions asked.


Listen up closers: here are three tips to help ensure that you close a deal out like Mariano Rivera.

1. Use emotion

MLB closers are known for using their emotions to create energy and pump their teammates up for the big ninth inning push. Jose Valverde, the former Detroit Tigers closer, is perhaps the best example of that, as he was known for his fiery personality and signature on-field celebrations after getting outs during his 12-year career.




In sales, making a human connection is one of the most important aspects of closing out a deal, especially in the early stages. You should create rapport with your prospects and make them feel like you really care.

Sending personalized emails or asking mundane yet important questions on the phone are small yet important measures that could help push the deal over the edge. Emotion and human connections are ultimately what close out the deal, use this to your advantage.


2. Make use of your executives

When a closing pitcher steps on to the mound, they have the luxury of having eight capable players behind them to help finish out the game. If the batter pops it up behind home plate, the catcher is there to snag it. If the ball is hit to deep left field, then the left fielder is there to make an acrobatic catch if need be.

Every player on the field has a role and should utilize it to help the closer get the results that they need. When closing a deal, don't be afraid to lean on your executives for advice or help with the phones.


3. The quicker, the better

Ask any major-league closer what the most important aspect of their job is and odds are they'll say efficiency. A good closer will come into the ninth inning and be done in 10 minutes or less every time he or she takes the field. That way, they keep their arms fresh and opposing hitters guessing about what they might throw next game. If a deal or a sale drags out for a long time, it's probably an indication that something just isn't clicking.

Make sure you are as efficient as possible when trying to close out a deal.




In baseball and in sales, the closer is arguably one of the most important players on the team. Every championship team throughout history has won with a great closer on its roster, from the days of Babe Ruth right up to Aroldis Chapman and the Chicago Cubs last year. Being a closer on a great sales team comes with a lot of pressure and stress, but it really is rewarding when all is said and done.


Topics: Sales Enablement, Sales Training & Coaching

Connor Hewson

Written by Connor Hewson

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Digital marketing specialist at LevelJump, sports fanatic and ‘70s soft rock enthusiast. Formerly a digital content editor with Rogers Sportsnet and freelance content author with Huge Inc.

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