Posts Tagged ‘closer’

Obligate or Terminate

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I’d like to share with you a conviction I hold that has served me exceedingly well throughout my career:

You cannot blow a deal you never had!

That brilliant little axiom has kept me alert and aware, on-edge and frosty. It has allowed me to cut through the bullshit and consistently separate the prospects from the suspects. Most importantly, dedication to this truism has kept me from wasting my time with time-wasters.

Too many salespeople put their faith in maybes, might do’s, and other various process extending excuses when trying to bag an elephant. Ever concerned that they may ruffle the feathers of their prospects, the mediocre tend to act more like messengers than closers, substituting desperate prayers to the deal gods in place of a zealous effort to gain commitment. Pretenders will go to all sorts of ridiculous lengths to avoid giving their prospects a bold faced ultimatum to “shit or get off the pot,” just so as not to offend, rankle or upset the customer, or rupture the deal.

Do not throw your lot in with this band of cowards. Do not leave the outcome of your deals to luck or worse, fate, as she will most likely kick you in the nuts every chance she gets! Take control of your destiny and dedicate yourself to becoming a first-class finisher. Never mind the namby-pamby, kid gloves approach, remember, “he who dares wins!”

So, when your prospect’s reply to a closing question is a veritable non-answer like “we’ll see” or a vague diversion designed to jog you on and pull their own ass out of the pressure cooker, do your customer and yourself a big favor, ask them to either put their balls on the line and take action or admit that they are just not that interested in what you have to offer. And, when an apparent condition (not an excuse) stands in the way of sealing a deal on the first conversation, attempt to make the deal conditional that will flush out the liars from the buyers every single time. Obligate or terminate!

Here’s the gospel truth, if your prospect is not sold or in love with your idea, if you haven’t managed to get him fired up about what you do and how you do it, then it matters not how relentlessly you close or how delicately you tread, the deal is DOA regardless! Any customer that tells you, after pressing them for a decision or some form of conditional obligation, that they are not going to move forward because you are too “pushy” or because you are “pressuring” them, was never, ever going to do the deal in the first place.

Prospects that cry “high pressure” are, quite frankly, full of it. Blaming a deal’s demise on too much pressure is the last gasp of a “suspect” (not a prospect) who is just as reticent to say “yes” for fear of regretting the decision later, as they are apprehensive about saying “no,” heaven forbid it turns out an incredible opportunity passed them by.

Don’t get me wrong, a clumsy, awkward salesman can certainly turn off a legitimate prospect. Acting like a “bull in a china shop,” full of unqualified assumptions and false sincerity during the sales pitch when you should be full of relationship building passion, relevant angles, and professional needs analysis questions will absolutely leave a nasty taste in a prospect’s mouth. And, if you hard close prematurely, before the prospect is sold lock, stock and two smoking barrels, then you will most likely appear inept and gauche. You will be viewed as a rank amateur, the kind who bunglingly endeavors to ram a sale down someone’s throat when they were never sold in the first place. However, if you have wined, dined and delivered one heck of a pitch, if you have sparked a love affair between the prospect and your concept and confirmed as much by asking strong qualifying questions, then it is incumbent upon you to motivate the customer to take action. You owe it to yourself and the prospect to not only present a clear and decisive path, but to confidently prompt and urge him to act on what it is he claims to be enamoured with. Under these circumstances, you are not going to blow anything by asking a prospect to commit. Someone who genuinely wants to buy understands the way business is done and appreciates a professional and firm approach. At worst, the real prospects and true decision-makers will be happy to offer a clear and legitimate explanation as to why they may not be able to move forward straight away and will be completely open to the suggestion that they put some skin in the game by promising action later if certain conditions are met.

By not going weak-kneed, by not cowering like some chicken-shit tenderfoot and avoiding the tough questions and if/then proposals, you are doing your prospects, as well as those that are suspect, a very productive service. For the buyers, you are showing consideration and respect for their position by offering them guidance and giving them what any true decision maker wants and respects: a clear, no-bullshit call to take action, an opportunity to be a decision maker and decide! And, for the liars, you are giving them the opportunity to either save face by blaming your aggressive manner for the deal’s demise (revealing them for the suspects that they are) or to simply admit what it is they were initially too polite to say, that your concept (or pitch) failed to impress and that they have no interest. Goodnight Irene!

Do not stake your career, your victories or your deals on a wing and a prayer. Count on obligation and commitment exclusively, they are your only true friends in a world rife with fear, political correctness and obfuscation. They will expose the ineffectual, the decision-fakers and the bureaucrats as efficiently as their use will garner the respect and loyalty of solid, tough decision-makers, multiplying your relationships with those that matter most (the power players). In the end the world might not always love a closer, but they will forever admire one.

Lawrence Rosenberg

Comfort Zone Coma

Monday, May 31st, 2010

In business as in war, when faced with pain, confrontation or rejection most able-bodied men and women choose to pack up their bags and retreat. For the majority, the fight or flight response is typically activated in favor of turning around and running for the hills as opposed to wading headlong into the storm. And, as selling for a living involves enough pain and rejection to choke a horse, most avoid a sales career as if it were the plague. The rank and file will readily opt for safe, plain vanilla office work or blue-collar humping and lugging before they will ever consider the maverick, kill or be killed lifestyle of a professional closer. Better the monotony (and mirage) of a secure, stable job, one that guarantees a paycheck (no matter how mediocre) than to suffer through the discomfort of having hundreds upon hundreds of doors slammed in your face, and the frustration of an endless string of no’s to live through all day, every day. Never mind the incredible fortune an unrelenting closer is capable of generating, the sheer unpredictability of it all multiplied by the unease at having to push and cajole impatient and uninterested prospects propels your average “Joe the Plumber” to pursue a common, unexceptional job sweeping the streets rather than risking salary and certainty.

Now, I’m not saying that most working stiffs don’t bust their asses in these unremarkable, everyman jobs, far from it. It’s hard work lifting hundred pound cement bags 12 hours a day in the blazing sun. It’s bloody hard work digging ditches on bitter cold days when you’d rather stay in bed and nurse a raging hangover. I recognize and respect the blood, sweat and tears many a man sheds in an attempt to scratch out a life and I understand just how brutally tough and thankless these blue collar existences can be. However, as ball-busting as manual labor most assuredly is, it is also comfortable, as a matter of fact, it’s as comfort zone as you can get. What?! Did you say comfortable?! Are you out of your mind Rosenberg?! Cleaning up construction sites six days a week or digging holes in the ground until your hands are cracked and bleeding is anything but comfortable I hear some of you shouting, so let me make this perfectly clear: Is it grindingly hard work? Absolutely! Hernia-popping? Without question! Thankless and unrewarding? Undoubtedly. Proletarian toil is all that and more, but it is also comfortable – it is comfortable because it is routine.

Wake up, dig the ditch, don’t think, don’t question, punch the clock, day in and day out – a robot’s existence ad infinitum. And, let’s not forget the money. That unfulfilling, unrewarding, uninspiring remuneration you call a paycheck waits patiently for you at the end of every week, regardless of the heights to which you’ve risen or the lows to which you’ve sunk, that hourly wage is set in stone. No risk of blowing it, no risk of failure, no risk of going hungry if you don’t dig the day’s targeted number of holes, no reward for digging any more ditches than your colleagues because you’re faster, stronger and more ambitious – just follow the routine and all those nickels and dimes are yours, guaranteed! Waiting tables, flipping burgers, sweeping the streets, it’s no one’s idea of paradise. In truth, it’s a tough existence with few prospects or possibility – but it is safe, it is secure, and it is comfortable.

People sacrifice their hopes and dreams every day of the week, selling their souls for the safe road, the routine, the path of least resistance. They sell out at the expense of a future because for most failure and rejection are far more painstaking and heartbreaking in the short term.

Making it as a sales professional on the other hand, well that’s just as hard as laying bricks, but it is also extremely uncomfortable. Risking a paycheck and a safe, routine job in favor of taking your shot and going for broke as a fly by the seat of your pants, gun-slinging, “eat what you kill” closer is anathema to the herd. The resistance and rejection, the struggle to win, is mind-cracking and rife with the type of fear (fear of the unknown) that the common man refuses to face. Fear of loss, fear of rejection fear of the word “no.” No, I do not have the time to listen to your sales pitch! No, we do not have a deal!

No, there isn’t a commission check waiting for you at the end of the month!

That kind of existence is way too intimidating, uncomfortable and unnerving for most. For the huddled masses, mediocrity and invisibility is preferable to a life filled to the rafters with rejection and the never-ending possibility of failure after failure.

Even those with the courage to take a shot at a sales career are not immune to the comfort zone coma. The unwillingness to get uncomfortable and slug it out on the path of maximum resistance is the single biggest reason why most salespeople completely fail in their attempts to generate the kind of income possible from what would otherwise be home-run money-spinning career. It’s frustrating and uncomfortable spending months trying to bash through or find a clever way around a hardened gatekeeper in order to get the real decision-maker on the phone, instead of giving up and pitching the boss’s minions. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable rebutting all manner of objections and closing over and over again well after the prospect has already told you “no,” or worse: “maybe later”. It is so much easier to take the path of least resistance, even if, in the long term, the pain and frustration of not having all the things you dream about far exceeds the short term discomfort you feel when you willingly put yourself into edgy situations with prospects or push yourself beyond the cold calling pain-barrier to work harder, longer and more intensely than your competition.

As a professional closer there comes a moment, often many, many times a day, where you are faced with two roads, one leads you to the comfort zone, the other to pain, frustration and discomfort. One road is safe, easy and comfortably numb, the other prickly and unnerving. One leads to perpetual misgiving and underachievement, the other to glory, money and power. Be that as it may, in the heat of the moment, when faced with the choice of which road to choose most are blinded as to just where these two divergent paths will lead. When the moment of truth arrives and you are forced to decide whether or not to wake up two hours earlier, whether or not to stay at the office a few hours later or whether or not to ask for the business one more time and risk the ire and invective of your prospect, all that most really see is the immediate pain and discomfort that taking the distressful action will generate. However, you don’t have to go down without a fight, this can be your Damascene moment – the instant when you choose to change everything. The very second your mind conceptualizes that your actions will lead to pain and discomfort is the instant when you must walk into the knife pointed at your throat!

The unnerving sensations that a distressing situation produces is not a warning to back away, it is your signal to advance, to move forward. How do you know that your actions will lead to long term achievement or to phenomenal success? If it is bristling and uncomfortable then it is the right path, period, end of! Let the short term discomfort and uneasy feelings that taking overt and aggressive action generates be your guide to knowing exactly what to do and when the hell to do it. And, when an opportunity arises to take the hard way in or the coward’s way out, press on with the tough route, the bumpy road, have the mettle to get hardcore and uncomfortable.

If your job does not present you with unsettling, unnerving predicaments daily, situations where to do might mean to die, then you are wasting your time and wasting away, doing only what it takes to exist. In order to ensure a booming and prosperous future, one where you call the shots, set the terms and reap the bounty, your actions must lead you down the path that the listless are too tired to walk and the gutless too fearful to tread.

Lawrence Rosenberg