Narrow the Close

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.

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