Are you shooting for the wrong goal? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard agency owners say, “just get us in the room.”
When you can’t even get a seat at the table, that may seem like a fair goal. But the fact is that getting in the room and having a seat at the table is not enough.
Here are common examples of barriers to closing that occur even when you show up with stellar creative in hand:
Barrier #1: No sales strategy.
You cede effectiveness and control of the process when you forge ahead without asales strategy. Without a questioning strategy to reveal real pain, your efforts can’t do more than scratch the surface. So ask permission to ask questions right up front.
Examples of good questions to ask:
- How long has [this issue] been going on?
- Why did you decide it needs addressing now?
- Is doing nothing an option?
The key to successful sales is presenting to the emotional, not the intellectual. That requires you to get beyond the surface pain and reveal the underlying business reasons, i.e., “the why.” With that, you can make a more impactful, personal appeal by appropriately tackling “the how.”
Remember, the key to building credibility with your prospect is helping them discover something that they didn’t know. Perhaps looking at their problem in a new way. But if you don’t stop to ask questions, you’ll be unable to do that, casting doubt on your ability to solve the client’s problems. Not to mention, you’ll find yourself stuck in the “reactive zone,” at the mercy of the client’s buyers process because you’ve sacrificed equal business stature and are not on a level playing field.
Barrier #2: Over-delivering.
While it may seem like sharing more information makes you look more knowledgeable, it actually makes you look disorganized and lacking strategy. More information is more likely to confuse people, which makes it less likely that you will be able to close. You also risk boring people when you drag things out unnecessarily. Stay focused, be concise, and remember that your prospect should be doing 70% of the talking. If you are sharing so much information, you are probably talking way too much.
Barrier #3: Lacking a pre and post meeting strategy.
This is closely related to barrier #2 because over-delivering is a symptom of not having a pre-meeting strategy. Pre-meeting strategy means all players are on the same page with an articulated objective and defined processes to achieve the objective. The pre-meeting strategy requires research, review, and creation of supplementary materials that may be needed (proposal, contract, presentation, etc.). Most importantly, it requires advance practice.
Perhaps most importantly, post meeting strategy includes an honest evaluation of what went right and what went wrong, and how you can improve for the next time around. But it also can include things like mapping out a plan for implementation and future relationship building. What is the agreed-to next step after the meeting? Post-meeting strategy helps you stay on track to reach the next step without neglecting the opportunity.
When sales skills deficiencies prevent you from closing...
Agencies work with us for one of these reasons — or for all of them:
1). They can’t get access to the relevant prospects who need their services so they can be considered.
3). When they do finally get in the room, they bungle the opportunity by one of the self-imposed barriers to closing described above.
4). They lack the personnel or discipline to follow up and follow through with prospects after the initial meeting.
Notice a theme? All of these are issues of sales deficiency, from lead generation to closing.
In closing, I have found that people who say “just get me in the room” tend to be very undisciplined as salespeople. They often over-deliver on their pitch, offer too much information, haven’t done a good job of qualifying the prospect before the meeting, have no questioning or pitch strategy, and are bad at follow-up. For that reason, shooting for a seat at the table alone is an unrealistic end goal.
Clearly, just showing up for the meeting is not enough.
How can your agency close new business? Perhaps you need some help. Download this case study to see how the Duval Partnership helped a NYC-based agency resuscitate their failing new business program.
- Agency Sales Tip: Talk Less, Sell More
- 15 Steps to Creating a New Business Sales Plan
- 7 Steps to Eliminate Unqualified Prospects for Your Agency
This was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse by Mark Duval on April 21, 2016.