Sales is a difficult area for anyone – trying to convince a customer to part with their hard-earned cash towards your product, while also attempting to sabotage any efforts from competitors to beat you to the sale. Enter the Columbo Close.

As such, salesmen, or “salespeople” if you’re one of those, need to have a few tricks up their sleeve. In the dream scenario, no underhand techniques are needed, and every now and then a sale will run smoothly.

But often, a salesmen will have to dig deep, and pull out something to save the day, whether it be a key statistic, unique selling point, or a sudden light bulb moment.

This is where the “columbo close” will often come into play, also known as the “Hail Mary” moment. Many a sale has been brought back from the dead thanks to the Columbo close, as we see in this article.
The iconic close


The name of the Columbo Close originates from the TV show Columbo, which aired throughout the 1970s, growing a cult following in the process.

The show was about a detective named Columbo, who roamed the streets of Los Angeles, catching criminals. A cunning and clever man, Columbo didn’t get easily outwitted by the miscreants he was chasing.

Whenever Columbo was questioning a suspect, he would seemingly finish his questioning, with the suspect heading for the exit.

But just as Columbo was looking like he was leaving the suspect, he would turn round, and put them on the spot with a carefully crafted question.

He would say “one more thing” when turning round to question the suspect. Just as the suspect thought they had got away from Columbo, the detective had other ideas.

Hail Mary

Moving on to the “Hail Mary” – this is essentially the name given to the situation where a person attempts to save the day with one final action.

To put it into a more visual explanation, it is like when a football team is losing with seconds to go, they go for a “hopeful hoof” up towards the attackers, in one final effort to get the goal.

In either case, the Hail Mary is seen as an act of desperation – something that one hopes not to ever have to do, but it is something that can be done if all else fails.

The Hail Mary is associated with American Football

What Actually is the Columbo Close in Sales?

Putting these areas together, the Columbo Close is when a salesman is on the brink of losing his customer, who is heading towards the exit.

The salesman has provided all the positives, waxed lyrical about the features of a product/service, and glossed over the negatives. Yet still the customer is heading for the exit.

This situation requires an act of desperation, which is where the Columbo Close can come in. This is something that a salesman has up his sleeve, as a key fact that can sway proceedings back in their way.

It might be a fact that makes it impossible for the customer to ignore, or it might be the offer of a price deduction, or perhaps a suggestion that the product won’t be available the next day.

By doing the Columbo Close, the idea is to get the customer to reconsider their decision to leave, and instead complete the purchase – earning the salesman a well-earned sale.

Many a sale has been secured based on the Columbo Close, and it is also a favoured technique for many salesmen to keep up their sleeve.

The Takeaway

As described above, it is best to use the Columbo Close when you are on the brink of losing a customer, and it is time to act desperate in a bid to keep them interested.

Columbo the detective was a highly-successful investigator, and his tactics not only work on TV, but also in real life. Oh, one more thing… don’t forget this close.