Are any of
the advertising or sponsorship opportunities in your pipeline stale? Do you
have deals that you thought would close months ago, yet somehow they havenít?
By Kevin Graham
Most sales professionals suffer from challenges related to
opportunities that never seem to close, or prospects that just donít seem to
take that final step. Itís time to stop suffering and start closing those
deals. Here are the top 10 ways to accelerate a deal to close (in reverse
aggressive sales management. Itís not ideal by any means, and thatís why it
ranks at the bottom of the list; but many a successful sales manager will
proclaim that deals would never have closed if it werenít for micro-management.
(On a more upbeat note, sales contests and other sales rep incentives fall
under this category, too).
advertiser/sponsor incentives. This, too, is a bit of a last resort because
compressing the sales cycle by way of a "fire saleĒ typically only results in
reduced profitability, not to mention the accompanying sales rep frustration
and customer anguish.
#8 Gain a
bona fide customer commitment to the timeline. Granted, the road to hell is
paved with good intentions, and commitments are not always fulfilled. But
galvanizing the key decision maker(s) to a timeline really does work wonders.
consensus of the management team. Agreement does not always equate to
action, but having every stakeholder nodding "yesĒ is an important element when
the decision needs group consensus. Solution selling is complex; think chess,
not checkers. Not every decision maker has to say "yes,Ē but just about any one
of them can say "no.Ē Getting everyone on the same page can be time consuming
and costly, but it does lead to agreement and action.
#6 Be persistent
with follow-up. Ah, the basics. Professional, value-based follow-up is
magical. Out-of-sight is out-of-mind, so stay religious with your real
opportunities and youíll reap the rewards of focused activity.
#5 Align your
proposal to a strategic objective. Whether itís at the departmental or
corporate level, if your opportunity helps the advertiser or sponsor achieve
their stated goals, chances are itís closer to the fast lane. Even better,
align it to an objective that is part of the decision makerís compensation or
a personal win (gain) for the key decision maker(s). Itís important to
understand the difference between a professional objective (see #5
above) and a personal objective. Uncovering the personal
ambitions and desires of the individual(s) is a powerful method to get the potential
advertiser/sponsor to take action.
your proposal to one of the customerís market opportunities. Show how your
proposal will enable your advertiser/sponsor to provide an increased service
level that will yield them (incremental) revenueóor shield them from losing
(decremental) a current revenue stream.
a strong return on investment (ROI).
The best way to support this is through customer data. If the advertising decision
maker recognizes that the department or company is losing money by not reaching
your associationís target audience, itís a no-brainer to get moving sooner
rather than later.
And finally, the number-one way to get a deal accelerated to closure:
your proposal to an impending event, trend, or regulation. Nothing is more
motivating for an advertiser or sponsor than an impending event, trend, or
regulation that they can capitalize on if they act in a timely manner. Show
them how connecting with your association can get them on the front end of all
Many of these recommendations relate to customer intimacy. Remember, the customer is not buying an
advertisement or a sponsorship; the customer is buying a solution to their
problem. Zig Ziglar once talked about Home Depot selling 1 million quarter-inch
drill bits per year. Yet, none of the customers actually wanted a quarter-inch
drill bit; the customers all wanted quarter-inch holes. The same dynamics
applies to your proposal, which you should learn to think of as a "solution.Ē
Graham is managing director for Empowered Sales Training and author of The Top Ten Ways to Accelerate a Deal to Closure.