Yeah yeah yeah, you’ve heard the old cliche a million times – “ABC – ALWAYS BE CLOSING!” If only it were that simple. True, when selling your design services, you want to maintain a clear objective, and follow every deal to its proper conclusion, but not at the expense of honest-to-goodness interpersonal relationships. Take time to stop and smell the roses, together. But always be conscious of other people’s time. And when it’s all said and done, heck, you might even want to send your clients a dozen roses.
On that note, maybe the old adage should be updated to better suit the times: “ABC – Always Be Courting.” Hmm. Now there’s a novel idea. Court your clients. Show them some love. Hear what they have to say. Get to know their goals, aspirations, and concerns. Let them feel like you’re taking care of them, and get them to home plate, safe and sound. We know, we know, it sounds a bit kinky, and we’re certainly mixing our metaphors here a bit. But, bottom line is, you’re not going to succeed at either of these approaches unless you train yourself to be a closing pitcher. And your objective as a closing pitcher is not to strike ‘em out, but to ensure that all parties involved are swinging for the fences, and heading for home! OK. Now we’re double [maybe even triple] mixing our metaphors here. Just bare with us.
Here are 3 useful training tips for you on how to be a closing pitcher in design sales, courtesy of Go Media, your Cleveland Design Service experts.
- 1. The Wind Up – Have a clear objective going into any negotiation. Keep the tone of the meetings brisk and the preliminaries brief, but don’t rush it. Keep your story fresh, and avoid using the same anecdotes every time. Don’t bring hooch to a baby shower as it were, or caviar to a Super Bowl party. Adjust your pitch to suit the situation. Every client is a little different. This doesn’t even require that you memorize your own schtick. On the contrary. You don’t want to be too scripted. But you certainly don’t want to sound one dimensional either. Clients can pick up on tired, worn out yarns. It’s more about paying attention to where the conversation is going, following your own lead, looking for signs & shifts in the conversation and making it work. Always leave a little room to shoot (or Pitch) from the hip.
- 2. The Pitch – OK. Now everybody’s settled in and it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Wind it up and let ‘er rip, slingshot! Have your value proposition buttoned down, and simply articulate how you intend to deliver. Introduce a level of collaboration to the proceedings too, but not to the detriment of closing the deal. It’s important to give your clients the impression that you’re in the driver’s seat, and they can just enjoy the ride if they so choose. Somebody has to drive. Might as well be you.
- 3. The Wrap Up – Okay. Party’s over, and all signs point to a decision. This is not a pressure tactic. This is reality. Time is tight, at a premium, and very precious in any negotiation. So get to the point. If the meeting ends with an “I’ll get back to you”, there’s a 50/50 chance you’re sunk. The narrative should always be pointing toward the finish line, home plate. Be the narrator. Take the lead. Any good closing pitcher worth his or her salt intuitively understands this. Avoid loose ends during the wrap-up, and minimize the number of unanswered questions before everyone hits the showers. Don’t let the deal hang out there like an unsolved riddle, and don’t encourage your clients to take the time to think it over. One common way closing pitchers succumb to this pitfall is by giving their clients too much wiggle room and too much homework at the end of a meeting. This is just an invitation to stall.
People want to feel like you’re taking care of them. They want to hire you to handle the heavy lifting. If you depend on your clients for too much additional information, you’re just encouraging them to drag their heels. This is not to suggest that you should be pushy, no. Simply keep your eyes on the ball, steer things home as much as you possibly can, and remain conscious of other people’s time.
Give your clients the tools they need to seize the day, swing for the fences, and make a commitment. Deliver the right pitch, custom made for their business, for everyone’s sake. Good Luck!