Archive for February, 2011

To Close More, Ask Yourself Why Things Aren’t Closing

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Julie caldwell

by Julie Caldwell

The anticipation that leads up to a potential big close is part of what supplies the adrenaline we enjoy from having sales jobs!  Closing is a lot like asking someone about their budget.  We get uncomfortable and tend to stumble around the subject.  The truth is, we tend to be afraid to ask for the close because we just might hear what we fear the most…a NO!

If you are honest with yourself throughout all of the other steps in the sales process, the close will occur without having to come to a big climax.  So if you find yourself unhappy with your current closing ratio, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Was this a good prospect in the first place? How much homework did you really do on this company, their industry and what the economic outlook is for them?
  2. Were you clear on what they REALLY wanted to accomplish?  Many times we fail to uncover exactly what is important to a prospect because we are too busy telling them how great our stations and websites are.  The most efficient media schedules in the world will not necessarily accomplish every one of our prospect’s objectives.  Make sure you study the M&A process of how to get a good homework assignment.  Learning to ask the hard questions will save you TIME and MONEY!  One of the best questions to help you uncover what people’s real objections are is “On a scale from 1 to 10, what are your thoughts on whether we can move this to a close?”  I KNOW this seems a little cheesy at first, but it really works, and can give you some real insight into why you are getting a “no.”  If someone says “I would give it an 8,” then they are forced to tell you why!  Push further and ask “Is there anything I can do to make sure we get a 10?”  I love this question.  It works!
  3. Did you know who was involved in the decision-making process? This one is the most common —  I have sat in many “closing” meetings with reps where the meeting ends with “Well this looks great, now I just need to clear it with my boss!”   Arrgghh.  One of the best questions you can ever ask a prospect is, “Besides you, is there anyone else who will need to approve the program?”  Or “Walk me through the process of how your company would make a decision to fund a program like this.”
  4. Is it bad timing? MOST developmental programs take 6-9 months to close.  Are you waiting too late to try and sell certain time-sensitive deals?  Plan your year by quarter and be aware of the sales window versus the timing of the promotion/program.
  5. Are you utilizing ALL of your resources?  Are you asking your managers for help with closing?  Are you utilizing your M&A field consultant? If you need help then ASK!  It always helps to have someone else’s prospective when you are struggling with a close.

Make sure you are not letting the fear of asking the tough questions get in your way of closing more business.  Also, you are wasting your time if you are holding on to clients that you will never close.  But if you are following the steps that you learned from M&A you will certainly start closing more business!  Happy Selling!

jcaldwell@morrisonandabraham.com

Becoming a Category Expert in 20 Minutes or Less

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

By Kathrine Glass

Kathrine Glass

Let’s not kid ourselves, it takes years to become an actual expert, but knowing a little bit about an industry can take you a long way.  ”Talking the talk” is one of the main things that can help you to establish credibility immediately with a prospect.

I like to employ a few simple steps:

  • Wikipedia.  Since it is user generated, you should take the Wikipedia information with a grain of salt but it can provide good key terms and information that you can then use to search even deeper into a category.
    • Say I want to call on Burger King but I don’t know anything about the fast food industry.  By typing in “fast food” in Wikipedia I can immediately get key terms like “QSR/Quick Serve Restaurant” or “fast casual” or “sit-in ratio.”  Many times there are sources listed at the end of the article that can prove helpful in learning more.  Use the insight you gain to help you in the next step….
  • Google it! So simple yet so effective.
    • Look for trade organizations and/or associations. These organizations are often useful in providing information about current issues and policies, recent news and additional resources for the industry.
  • Search for trade websites and publications.  Trade websites and publications are fun to read and can offer information on trends, channels, competitors and include helpful industry jargon.
  • Search for white papers or research done on the industry.  Often these are done by independent research firms and can provide really good information on specific areas of interest.  These can help you identify trends and be proactive in understanding what might be some of the challenges or successes your prospects are facing.
  • If you run across an acronym or word you don’t understand, keep searching until you get a definition.  Don’t worry.  You will find one.  Take for example “OEM.” Let’s say you ran across it in an article as you were becoming an expert in the automotive category.  What does it mean? One search of OEM automotive gives you many sources that define the acronym. It’s Original Equipment Manufacturer, in case you didn’t already know.
  • Once you have identified some of the key players in the industry, review their investor relations and/or franchise information.  Again, this can help you understand how companies are structured, what their goals are and what they see as new opportunities.
  • Search job postings to get a sense of job titles and areas of coverage.  This is also a good tool to use when searching for contact information.
  • IRS.gov.  The IRS has a really good article that can help you understand nuances of running specific types of companies.  There is also a great glossary to help with key terms.  Not all industries are there but it is worth a look.  http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=141373,00.html
  • Utilize the Morrison and Abraham industry tip sheets.  Morrison and Abraham has category tip sheets available for our clients.  You can get a quick snapshot of a category and be on your way, or you can use it as a jumping off point for additional research.

The key is to not get overwhelmed.  See the process much like a treasure hunt and make it fun.  Every nugget of information you uncover gets you closer and closer to a more productive discussion with a decision maker.  At the end you just might find real treasure and put dollars in your pockets by closing new business!

kglass@morrisonandabraham.com