Close The Door

Or, as my spirited New Jersey friend used to say, “Close the d@#* door!  You may recall some time ago I wrote about my concept of BAM! – Booking a meeting from a meeting.  Somewhere along the way, as I continued teaching this concept, I began using the phrase, “close the door” as it relates to working from meeting to meeting.

 Here’s the idea:  You’re in a sales situation.  Let me pause and make an assumption.  You have an excellent solution for your prospect, one that you would “sell” to your own mother. Why?  Because it is a very good decision for her, and you are the best source for administering that decision. You must believe you have an excellent solution and that you are a part of that excellence.  If you don’t believe this, change whatever is necessary to truly begin believing it. This assumption now makes what I am going to teach almost wrong NOT to do.  If I truly believe that I have the right solution to something the prospect has clearly indicated a need for (and believes that), it is my responsibility to lead them to this solution.  So, assumption is made; let’s move on.

 You’re in that first sales appointment, and the meeting is wrapping up.  The prospect is noticeably responsive to you and your ideas, definitely wants a proposal and asks you to send it right away.  The meeting ends with the prospect all but signing on the line – just needing the written details - and says, “Call me next week, and we’ll get this thing moving”.  You leave, elated!  This one is a done deal, you think.  At the sales meeting, you confidently consider this as a closed sale, counting it in your sales forecast – after all, it’s all but done, just a quick call in a few days. Right?  Ever made that “quick call” in those next few days?  You likely left the proverbial voicemail, feeling something sink deep in your conscience. Not to worry.  Yet a few days pass, you’re asked about the “done deal” by your sales manager, or worse, your sales coach!  You call again. Voicemail.  You try email a few days later.  If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually get a response saying something like: “We’re still sorting out some details; I’ll get back to you…”  Did you catch that, “I’ll get back to you”, meaning who’s in control? What happened??!!

 You didn’t close the door!  Right at the point of “Call me next week, and we’ll get this thing moving” – the door was left slightly ajar as you left the prospect’s office. My wife’s dad would often say, “We don’t live in a barn!”  Open doors allow for a draft – in this case the opportunity is the draft, and out it goes!  You left the door open, and there was definitely a draft.  Sure, the prospect was truly excited and ready to decide – just needed to tie up a few things.  Remember, the assumption here is not one that the prospect is playing you, leading you on and then finding a delay tactic to get rid of you.  This one assumes you have the right solution, you are the right provider and the prospect agrees. The challenge is keeping the idea hot after you leave.  Your solution, when you are there is all they are focused on; but once you leave, it now competes with every interruption, deadline, and urgency that prospect has to deal with – including the new ones headed their way – and you aren’t scheduled to be there to stoke this fire.  With the door open, your solution breezes out unintentionally, and the prospect now has to “cover” for their delay.  As you keep following up, the energy of the idea, once positive, slowly turns to a burden – now competing with all the other issues.  The idea, like a beautiful shiny red Ferrari driving right by you, is now a faded red blotch a half mile up the road.  Oh, it’s still a Ferrari, and the prospect kind of knows it, but it’s not right in front of them anymore because you left the door open (darn draft!).  You lose the sale. Even worse, the prospect loses the clear value they would have gained, and whose fault was it? It’s your fault – because you did not close the door.  Sometimes you simply cannot close the door, but I suggest we always try. 

 Let’s talk solutions.  At the point of “Call me next week…” you might say, “Excellent, I’ll be in the area next week.  How about we meet for 30 minutes, after you’ve received my estimates? That way, we can clarify any questions or changes and start moving on …” The words aren’t as important as understanding the principle.  If you really get the principle, you’ll find the right words.  I’ve always found it much easier to find words to support what I truly believe.  Close the door – with the next meeting.  Even if the meeting is on the phone, make sure you schedule it as a meeting on their calendar, and it will be more likely to happen as planned. 

 Think of it all like dating…ending that first date on a “call me” isn’t nearly as good as booking that next date, right there! 

 This won’t work every time; but as Wayne Gretsky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”