Any techniques on "closing the deal"?
Sorry guys, looking back on the recent posts here, I realize that I am really the only recent poster... Well, it gives us something to talk about, at least :)
I have recently taken my business in a new direction, and I am cold-calling potential new clients. We have had several clients that are very interested in our services, but that's about as far as it goes, INTERESTED.
We have been playing phone tag with several clients that agree that the product is a great idea, and would LOVE to implement our products into their businesses, but again, that's as far as it goes.
I am sure that most freelancers have run into this problem. The problem being that no one will actually commit to the production. Are there any techniques or selling methods that anyone else has used to get to the point of actually being able to show up with cameras and lights in hand?
Are there any tried and true ways to get that potential client to the status of REAL client?
I am scared to bombard the clients with phone calls and/or emails. I don't want them to think that we are desperate for their business... Which in a sense, we kind of are :)
I know that this is a VERY broad question, but any stories or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks again, you guys are really a great asset!
Owner, Meijin Media LLC
The number one rule for cold calling is to get a face-to-face meeting. Get the sit.
If the potential client is out-of-state and a face-to-face meeting is not possible, then get a phone call meeting with whoever is in charge of the checkbook.
At the meeting, ask for the sale (a couple/few times if you have to). Once you get a "yes" shut up and get out.
Go back to the office and put together your estimate/bid with the terms clearly stated. No matter what, get a down payment for new clients.
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC
Unfortunately, there are way too many variables for anyone to honestly and accurately tell you how to "get the sale." Here's some examples:
1. Prospect's Attitude
- Prospect is skeptical of the value your service will bring (in terms of ROI)
- Prospect is skeptical of you
- Prospect is on board, but has an army of mid-high level mgrs. to convince
- None of the above, Prospect just needs some prodding
2. Prospect's Budget
- Economy has caused budget to wither
- Budget is there, but a question of how much
- Huge budget, but client will only work with top-tier provider
- Prospect loves you, but other issues are in the way
- Prospect is skeptical that you can get the job done
- Prospect doesn't feel your value proposition is strong enough
Obviously this list could go on and on. YOUR job is to discover what is holding the client back from saying yes, and address those concerns. If you have any sort of dialogue with the prospect, you should be able to ask, straight up, what their objections are and then address them, one by one, until there is no valid reason left for the prospect to say no.
In fact, a successful salesperson will need to think through the myriad objections a prospect might have, in advance, and develop prefabricated responses to those objections so she isn't caught without an answer in a client meeting. In order to do this, you need to do some solid SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) and compare yourself against the competition. This requires a high level of honesty on your part or you might miss the reality of your standing amongst your competitors. Once you've done this, view the results through a prospect's eyes and see where you stand, and what needs to be addressed.
You also need to do a more general analysis of what your prospects are going through, what are THEIR SWOTs, and address those head on. For example, in this economy many, many businesses are concerned about their survival. Marketing budgets are almost always the first to go when a company pulls in the tentacles and hibernates through an economic winter, so that is a major issue you will need to overcome. Showing raw, undeniable value and return on investment is key to getting these companies to play ball in these times. Every prospect will face their own unique challenges based on their industry, client-base, the overall economy, technological advances etc. Know your prospect's business, and address their unique needs directly. They will see you as "in tune" with their particular situation and it will put you head and shoulders above the competition.
Even if you do an excellent job as a sales person, bear in mind that the sales cycle on high-dollar, B2B sales is long. No getting around that, it's just much harder to separate a company from many thousands of dollars than it is to convince a consumer to buy an iPod. My experience is that most jobs can take up to 2 months to close.
Its AWESOME that you mentioned SWOT. ALL of the clients that I work with are also part of a consulting firm that teaches the SWOT analysis. All of my clients are in a very VERY small niche, and I have been a part of this niche for over six years, really shooting and producing nothing else.
They do not question my ability or knowledge to get the project done, because as stated above, I have been working with them on other projects concerning the same subject matter for quite some time. That leaves me to the conclusion that it comes down to money and the economy. All of my main clients are in the service business themselves, and not only is it a service business, but this service is considered a "luxury" by most. So with this economy, luxury-expenses are a hard sale.
I have several phone meetings coming up with my prospects, and I will implement down-right asking for the commitment. We require a 1/3 payment upon booking, and I will try to get that once they say that they are, in fact, willing to go forward.
Thanks everyone for your help, I will do my best to implement the techniques as mentioned above. I will let you know how everything goes down.
People don't want to be sold stuff. I hate selling stuff, I'm not good at it. What I think I am good at is discussing needs and coming up with a solution to a problem, with reasons why it will work. People don't like to be sold BUT... People do want a problem solved. I always approach this kind of thing as that I'm the guy with a way to solve your problem. I'm bringing you something of value. I don't want them to decide to be sold, I want them to decide they want to buy what I have, which is what they need. If you don't need what I have, I'm not going to bother you in the first place. I'm here to help people solve a problem. I just happen to get paid for it as well.
As to the bad economy excuse from clients, the best time to make a bigger marketing effort is when the competitors are all hiding out. You get the stage to yourself, your company has the opportunity to build a huge lead in mindshare and brand, usually at a fraction of the normal costs compared to when there are more competitors doing the same thing. By the time the others come back out to play, if you've stayed out the whole time banging the drum, you should really own the market space. If you don't chicken out.
It's not an expense, it's an investment.
I totally agree with your comments about stealing mindshare while all your competitors are hiding out. I feel the exact same way. Most companies seem to think they are keeping their powder dry when they reel in the marketing, but when you are short on customers why would you EVER stop trying to attract new ones? It's nonsense, but it seems to be the conventional wisdom in terms of recessionary posture.
Beautiful post Mark! I almost shed a tear.
Just one little thought about the choice of "hiding out" or expanding your marketing in tough times.
There is merit in dedicating yourself to retention of existing customers in hard times. Because it is way more expensive to find brand new customers than maintain existing ones, and existing happy customers also get you referrals.
A company needs to consider then, how you retain those existing customers. You can send them a discount coupon, works for pizza, I guess. Maybe for ten free DVD's of their next project? Whatever it is, it better not be a lowering of your rates!
My opinion is that you do it by reminding them of the relationship that exists, of reviewing their past successes with you. It's like a marriage and you know if you've been married that you can't take the spouse for granted for too long before things blow up! Same with clients. You have to stay in their subconscious in case they get a notion to do another project, or their eye may start to wander.... That involves spending marketing dollars as well. Just targeted a little differently.
OTOH, if your company just rolls up the carpets and turns the lights out and sits by the phone waiting for another call, well, that could be a long wait. Better to pick up that phone and call the last ten clients and tell them about the latest upgrade you gave the suite, how it will improve your graphics, or how you're doing something brand new this year, like DVD authoring, you didn't do last year. Or that you won an xyz award for one of your clients by using the new frannis plug-in by whosis in a novel way. An evergreen in hard times is to look at how to re-purpose their existing back catalog of projects to leverage the asset, make it do more work without having to start from scratch. I'm thinking something like compressing and porting over old videos to the web, converting them to podcasts, whatever. That's just one option.
It doesn't have to ask for a sale. It's an informational call, updating someone you already have a relationship with, and sharing some ideas. You're not doing a sales call. You're problem-solving for a client. Who just happens to also end up paying you.
You and the client are going to get ahead of the ones who are just waiting for the rain to stop.
"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"
The only thing I can add to the excellent advice already provided is this. Find out what the prospects pain is and how your services can aleviate it.
What keeps them awake at 2am? Mind you, if they're in the financial industry, I don't think video is going to solve it for them.
The easiest way to close a deal...is to close it.
Meetings are good and there are many techniques, listed here and elsewhere. But a common problem is people don't ASK. After the whole pitch its more like "so think about it" as opposed to "when can we start".
The secret of getting everything you want in life, is ask.
Same goes for business. Fine tune your pitch, get face time, be confident but at the end always close the deal and be direct. We're raised to be polite and nice, but sales and business is another issue, so always ask for the deal. :)
For tips, get my show "Media Artist Secrets" in iTunes or play episodes here: