Archive for February, 2012

Narrowing the Close

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

by Susan Novicki

I have been traveling to markets each week over the past month and have been on some great sales calls that my clients have scheduled. In each of the needs analysis meetings, we have walked away with clear objectives and homework assignments and many times with big budgets disclosed.   We have set up a follow up meeting to present the ideas and will create a proposal from that call.  But the question becomes “How do we narrow the close?”

First we have to make sure that we have truly listened to the client and not made assumptions that make sense for what we are trying to sell, whether it is an event, a mobile app, or promotion that the station has created. I think it is always great if a manager is on an important call with a rep. And it’s great when we are in town to go on calls with our salespeople as well. Why? Because you have an additional set of ears to hear what the decision-maker is truly saying. So many times in a conversation there are small references that we may miss because we are “broadcasting when we should be listening”. With an additional set of ears, we tend to catch those subtle references. Once we recap the conversation and create ideas that are narrowed down in the next meeting, we create a proposal that is focused on the objective that was determined in our needs analysis conversation. The concept that is created and how we will make it happen through an integrated campaign as well as the net investment all must go back to the objective that we heard during the needs analysis.

It is critical that we ask for the close when we present the proposal to the decision-maker. Many times they will tell a sales rep that it looks great but “let me review and get back to you in a few weeks”. Too many times the rep walks out of the meeting proud as a peacock that the call was “awesome” yet they haven’t asked for the sale. After reviewing the proposal, have the contract ready for the decision-maker to sign. If they can’t sign it do you ask “why”? The most important question in narrowing the close is “on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 you signing where do you see this?” If the decision-maker says a “7″ you ask “what has to be done to this proposal to get it to a 10?” The more information you have, the better chance you have of closing.

Also make that follow up appointment – don’t leave it to “I’ll get back to you in a few weeks”. The more conversation and follow up calls, the better chance of narrowing the close. But it all starts with a great homework assignment from a great needs analysis meeting. Make the decision-maker a partner with you in reaching the desired objectives.

Who Do You Know?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

by Kathrine Glass Kathrine Glass

I just read an interesting blog post from SurveyMonkey. They are the world’s leading provider of web-based survey solutions. SurveyMonkey broke up into small teams and spent 26 hours working on any project they wanted, to help make their products or job better. New features, tweaks of existing features, new internal tools, workflows — anything was fair game. Besides some really cool ideas, I imagine what also resulted was a camaraderie among people who may have only given a polite hello to each other before and a renewed excitement about what, as a company/team they could do and most importantly, a better understanding of what each department did.

While this may not be an exercise that can be implemented at your company as a whole, you can do a mini version just for yourself. Do you know the people in accounting or programming or traffic? I mean really know them and what goes on in their daily work routine? Do you understand their challenges, their perspectives, what they deem successful? If not, you may want to spend some time getting to know them. Treat the exercise like a new client call. Go gather information. Use your interviewing skills in a new way.  What new ideas might you uncover?

There are many reasons why this is important. As a manager, one of the main lessons I learned was that my job was to remove obstacles so that my team could flourish. As an AE, your job is to help your clients flourish. You can’t do that if you don’t understand how things work within your organization or even who to ask for help. You can’t problem solve if you don’t understand the mechanics and the politics. You can’t break barriers and old ways of doing things if you don’t have an understanding of the past. And most importantly, you can’t get buy-in from others if they don’t trust you. Getting to know people on a real level and being there to help them, being a resource to them, is key, too.

When I was responsible for business development at a newspaper, besides a fantastic team, part of my success was driven by my ability to cross departmental lines and also partner with other organizations for the mutual benefit of both.

For example, I had a huge promotional package that was to be executed for Cadillac. During a meeting with the agency, we discovered there were some snags. I was able to pick up the phone to the printing plant, talk to a key player and have it fixed…immediately while still sitting in the meeting – a moment that we will both always remember. I love being able to have made her a hero to her clients. I helped HER dreams become a reality and I could have never done that had I not developed a prior relationship and trust with the printing department. I knew who to call, what it would take to get it done and how to help the plant help me.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, make yourself a deal this year…meet a departmental leader in each of your company’s departments. And that doesn’t have to be the manager! Sometimes the strongest leaders, the ones that can get things done, the ones that can help you the most, are not the ones that have the best parking space. Sometimes it’s the guy that understands more about how “that” works than the manager. And when you are trying to problem solve, you need someone who really understands what you are trying to do.

Challenge yourself to look at things with a new perspective. You will find that you can be a better resource for your clients and also a great resource for your fellow company-mates.