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Many agency owners have a scary belief: that the agency must do whatever the client wants to make the sale.
This doesn't even relate to the issue of being a generalist. No, you can have an entirely specialized agency with a well-defined niche and still fall into the same trap.
What often happens with agencies is that they take every request each client makes. Over time, they end up being everything for everybody within their market.
Worst of all, agency owners don't even realize how this is hurting them. Think back to the comparison we made between the used car salesperson and the Aston Martin dealer.
Now, imagine that you come to that Aston Martin dealer and tell them that you want a minivan – and they start making one for you. Doesn't sound very likely, does it? The same applies to your agency.
Just as you don't want to be a jack of all trades in general, you don't want that to happen in your relationship with clients. Ultimately, taking on every role that your clients may need you to play will tie up your resources and production and damage your brand.
However, we need to clarify one thing here. Once you establish yourself as an expert in your niche, clients will likely start coming to you for various problems that fall outside of your chosen specialization.
And that's a good thing. But just because clients come asking for extra services doesn't mean you have to accept that kind of work. The fact is, in the long run, you can make more money out of the nine deals that you don't do than the one you do.
Not being contactable has an enormous value which you should never underestimate, and it's the same with saying No. Your process starts with prospecting and establishing a relationship with a client.
That's the initial point where you need to stay in control of the conversation and, rather than giving in to various client requests, assure them of success. If you can do that right, you'll create a healthy foundation for that relationship, and that's a far more important thing than giving in to any potential whims the client might have.
You should always listen to what the prospect has to say but not jump into action at every comment they make. Ultimately, the prospect wants to feel safe with your agency and get the end result they need.
And the best way to go about it isn't through creating a situation in which you're taking orders from them. It's through consulting with the prospect and challenging them with constructive advice based on your experience and expertise.
This will create more trust and attachment than going along with everything the prospect suggests. Of course, how you position yourself initially will depend on your mindset around sales.
Prospects will often try to take control away from you and take command of the conversation. This is a natural and respectable thing, but it works both ways. As soon as you take control back, you'll earn respect from that prospect if you do it the right way.
Taking back control of the conversation doesn't have to be a domineering act or a fake, orchestrated thing. It should be a gesture that shows this is your sales meeting and your agency. You're offering help to the prospect.
If you approach the conversation from that mindset, you'll ensure that your process remains your own. But you'll also make your prospects trust you more and feel comfortable about working with you.
This is because people don't necessarily want to be in control themselves – they want to know that someone's in control, able to help them and that they are safe.
Your clients need guidance and security, and you can show them that they can get all that in you if you act with conviction, commitment, and confidence.
There are different ways in which you could start building a relationship with your clients. While some elements, such as taking control and assuring your clients of success, are necessary, that doesn't mean there's only one way to do things.
In fact, you could be one of the four types of salespersons that can establish a successful relationship with their clients. Before moving forward, it would be best to determine which type fits you the best.
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Once you've determined which type of salesperson you want to be, it's time to start laying down the foundations of your relationship with the client.
As with any other relationship, the vital thing is being yourself.
We know when people aren't genuine, so being straightforward and true while building rapport is essential.
If you start the relationship this way, you'll make every further interaction with the client easier.
In essence, building a relationship is all about trust, and to be true to your clients, you'll have to be true to yourself.
However, there's something about building trust that people often don't recognize:
It's not about what you say, and it's not even about you. When you're building a trusting relationship, the crucial thing is that the other person understands that you care about them. That's what makes someone trust and like you, and that's what establishes the foundation of your connection to them.
Unfortunately, the wrong way to go about it is something that we see happen more frequently than not. It's when you meet someone new at a bar, bookshop, or wherever, and all they do is talk about themselves.
The person is telling you about all the things they've done, where they've been, and what they've accomplished in their lives. And they don't ask you a single question.
If you were in such a situation, how much would you be interested in that person? Probably not very much.
On the other hand, how would you react if the person asked you questions and showed that they wanted to learn about you and get to know you?
Your reaction would likely be much more favorable.
Now, think about a sales conversation in the same terms. On the one side, you have a salesperson who comes in and starts telling you about their product – let's say it's a camera.
They break it down to the smallest detail, explaining the depth of field, number of megapixels, and all the other cool features.
They tell you how much better that camera is compared to other brands.
Somewhere along the way, you start feeling that this salesperson is only interested in the product and making the sale, and you know that they don't really care about what you need.
On the other side, a different salesperson comes in with the same camera, but they don't discuss its features. Instead, they ask you, "What would you like to use this camera for? Do you like taking photos of your family, landscapes, or something else?"
Then, depending on your answer, the salesperson tells you how the camera can best serve your purpose. This approach works much better because the salesperson is actually getting to know you.
As a result, you start trusting them a bit more, and a relationship starts to form. When you build a foundation, you'll want to be like that second salesperson.
Start the conversation by considering what your prospects really want or need and use your expertise to make recommendations.
Let the prospect talk and ask questions.
In fact, you can use a general guideline for your sales conversations:
First of all, there's something of a rule about how much talk should come from your side. If you've spoken for more than 30% of the conversation, you've most likely lost the sale.
If you want to distribute that 30%, here's a sequence outline that you can use:
Initially, you'll want to establish your authority and control in the conversation. Then, take an interest in your prospect and allow them to connect. At this point, you should show them that they're in the right place and make them feel safe and comfortable.
Once you get there, let the prospect tell you why they need your help, and only then go ahead and explain what you can do for them.
If you structure the conversation this way, by the end, both your client and you will have a clear idea about the relationship you're forming. But that won't only be an opportunity for the client to decide whether they want to work with you. It will also be the point at which you determine if the prospect is the right fit for your services.
"Once we learn to shun the non-believers, to be comfortable enough to say 'it's not for you,' then we free ourselves up. No one can make something for everyone." – Seth Godin
Learning to say No is one of the most important aspects of building relationships as well as businesses. In other words, you'll need to qualify clients to ensure that they fit in with what you have to offer.
This decision can only come from a mindset that you're the prize. You provide the value, and your clients need you – not the other way around. When you realize that, you can start applying the client qualification process.
When qualifying clients, it's essential to have a set of requirements in place. You need to establish specific thresholds and make sure that your relationship with a client doesn't cross them.
The set of parameters for prospects to become clients should start with knowing who you want to work with. The first thing you should look for is whether you'll enjoy helping that particular person with your service.
Ask yourself if you're excited about working with that client on achieving their goals. And if the answer to that question is No, that should also be your answer to the prospect.
Secondly, you'll want to ensure that you know what the prospect wants and that you can deliver what they need. If those two things don't fit together, you shouldn't take on that client.
In fact, declining such clients will be mutually beneficial. You won't burden yourself with a request that you can't meet, and the prospect will know they should look for the solution to their problem elsewhere.
Finally, establishing boundaries to what you can and can't or won't do is incredibly useful. This doesn't need to result in declining the prospect altogether.
You can simply refer them to another way to get a particular thing done while keeping the piece of business that you can do well. All of these are the ways in which you'll benefit from learning to say No.
It's not about rejecting prospects as much as it's about setting thresholds to ensure that the relationships you build are created on a clear and firm foundation.
We've previously discussed the importance of building authority as the key to making sales. But that's not the only vital role that authority plays – it's also a crucial element in your relationships with clients.
One of the aspects that we've touched upon in the previous chapter was control over the conversation. In terms of building a relationship, this is something you can apply by handling objections properly.
This is very similar to what happens when parents talk to their kids and tell them, "No, you can't do that. You're not allowed to."
The first thing kids will feel in that case is that they'll want to do it even more.
The same happens with your clients. They might think that something would work great for them, but you know that it won't.
If you simply tell them that, they'll likely feel resistance, and your relationship will be off to a rough start.
This isn't because clients are really like children. It's because most of them aren't used to hearing No, especially in a sales conversation, and it will hit them hard.
If you want to handle objections in a way that will help you build authority, you'll need to learn to say No to the client's ideas that don't work and help them understand the reason behind your answer.
This way of handling objections is something you should do genuinely.
If you act that way, you'll immediately take the client into a place where they'll feel more endeared to you, and you'll elevate yourself within your
The next element of authority is to be relaxed. If you think about the times when you were most nervous, you'll find that those were situations when you were at the edge of your comfort zone.
But if you're an expert at what you do, you shouldn't have a reason to be stressed. People can easily pick up on whether you're relaxed or not. If you are, you'll instill confidence in your prospect and make them feel that they're in the right place.
But if you feel unsettled or uncomfortable, your prospects will feel that way, too. Again, this isn't something you should put on as an act.
When you're having a conversation with a prospect, you should be genuinely relaxed because you've specialized, and you know what you're doing and understand your own worth as an expert.
The wrong way to enter a relationship with your clients is to anxiously seek their approval. Instead, you should adopt a mindset that you're the one determining whether the client is a good fit for your services.
If you come into the relationship with that attitude, you'll never come off as desperate or pushy. Rather, you'll remove all nervousness, and that'll further boost your authority. Finally, as a person of authority, you should always listen to your prospects.
When you're going through a sales conversation, you should ask them questions frequently and spend the majority of the time exploring what their issues, frustrations, and goals are.
There are two main reasons why listening is important. The first is, of course, that you'll understand what you need to solve much more clearly. But the second reason goes back to building your authority.
When you ask questions and listen, you're letting the prospect explain all of the reasons why they should work with you. In other words, you're letting them tell you how to sell to them. Then, the prospect is doing all the selling themselves, and all you have to do is take them through that journey.
In terms of authority building, you're not the one reaching out and telling the prospect what they want to hear in this scenario. You're also avoiding positioning yourself as someone who's taking orders.
Instead, you're taking on the role of a consultant, advisor, and partner to your prospect. You might wonder what the difference is between letting the prospect answer your questions and, as we just put it, taking orders.
Well, in one case, you're the expert who is asking about their problems and telling them what the possible solutions are. In the other case, you're letting the prospect tell you what specific solutions they're looking for.
For example, if you're asking the prospect what types of ads they want to run, or if they want to target a specific demographic, you're doing it wrong. Coming up with the exact solution for a problem is your job and yours alone.
Of course, you should hear out what ideas your prospects might have. And then, you should teach them why their solutions aren't optimal and show them the right way to move forward.
This will only boost the trust they have in you further. After all, if your prospects knew what the solution was, they wouldn't need your help.
That's why you should always direct the conversation towards their issues and make sure that you're the one explaining the way to resolve
them. Establishing authority right from the start will determine the entire dynamic of your relationship with the client.
If you cover all of the key aspects that we've discussed here, you'll create a good foundation that will prove beneficial for everyone moving forward. However, this will be much more challenging to do if you have to improvise the conversation every time.
That's why you'll need to create some consistency in this process. You'll need a script.
When we talk about having a script, we're not referring to something like a movie script where you have every sentence you'll say written down. Rather, what you need is a process that will ensure that you do everything in a regimented way.
Your script will need to outline the questions that you'll ask and things you'll do during the conversation so that you can take every prospect through the same experience.
When you create such an outline, you'll get a repeatable process that you can adjust and improve along the way. While you should make the experience curated, it's worth mentioning that it doesn't need to be too strict.
As you follow your script, you should never feel rigid and constricted by it. In this regard, your script doesn't have to be a detailed map of the conversation but rather a way to understand all of the essential points you should cover.
You should create a consistent process that will define the experience and the emotional impact you want to make. Coming up with this process is vital because it'll allow you to refine and improve your sales at every stage.
This gives you the opportunity to fine-tune through trial and error questions that drive the conversation in certain ways. When you start following a script, you'll develop a keen understanding of where the lowest-hanging fruit is in your sales process, as well as what part of the process is blocking your progress.
Then, you'll be able to determine potential problems and fix them, which can bring massive benefits. In fact, if you can make just a 2% increase at every stage of your funnel and sales process, you could almost double your revenue.
With a script at hand, you'll quickly discover a decent number of small leverage points in your sales calls. Then, you can optimize them to create a greater impact. In terms of fixing problems, you'll find out which parts of the conversation have proven the most challenging.
You'll notice that everything seemed fine up until you touched upon a certain point in the script. But when you started talking about that point, you had people disenchanted. Determining these blockages in your sales process will be invaluable.
You might find that you're saying something that doesn't resonate the right way and that you're losing rapport due to wording and the way you're phrasing the point in question. Once you understand what's wrong, you can adjust, tweak, and optimize specific parts of your script.
With each improvement, your script will become more reliable until you get a dependable process that works.
Doing sales right represents more than just making the prospect buy your service. It's a matter of building relationships and creating partnerships. As an agency owner, you'll never be a typical salesperson.
Of course, you'll want to increase your revenue and grow your business, but the crux of the process will always be that you're providing solutions and helping people. This is the essential thing you should keep in mind.
Your clients need you to solve their problems, and your service is precious to them. That's why you'll have to build a sales process that reflects all of the value you're bringing to the table and positions you as an expert who holds authority.
When you form the relationships in sales on that foundation, you'll establish a dynamic that will allow you to deliver your service in the most beneficial way for your agency and your clients.
Of course, tailoring your sales process in the most efficient way won't be easy. You'll need to work out every step thoroughly and deliberately and be mindful of the details that can make or break the sale.
We all had that one teacher in school whose classes sent us to sleep. You know the kind we're talking about. The subject they teach isn't necessarily boring, and they certainly have the qualifications and knowledge.
But the way they talk and the energy they radiate make you want to doze off. These teachers would state facts in a monotone voice and absolutely no presence.
And it was no wonder that all of the students would check out after the first few minutes, learning nothing in the process. If you've been really unfortunate, you might've had several teachers like this in your life.
But you were probably lucky enough to have teachers with charisma and passion who engaged the whole class in an instant. Students would come out of those classes in an entirely different way.
They would pick up some knowledge and perhaps even grow to love the subject. The effective teacher may not have been as qualified as the boring one – the point is that they knew how to communicate the information and engage the students.
By now, you've probably realized what we're hinting at with the teacher story and how it relates to sales. If you make your sales presentation an hour-long bore-fest of bombarding potential clients with facts and figures, all you'll do is send them to sleep.
Because it's not about how accurate your information is but how you present it. No one will care how clever or qualified you are or how much knowledge and expertise you have if you can't convey it all in a meaningful and beneficial way.
That's why you need to create an effective and engaging pitch. In this chapter, we'll show you how to do just that.
"You are probably better than me, but do you know why I am going to get the job and you aren't? People like me, people want to be around me." – Unknown
The best way to ensure that your prospects aren't bored is to build an effective capabilities deck.
This is a list of short, snappy points that will engage the prospect and flesh out how your service relates to their wants and needs.
The capabilities deck will serve as an outline for your pitch that you'll be able to use with every prospect.
Once you build this deck, all you'll need to do will be to make slight adjustments to fit your prospect's needs.
Before we get into the capabilities deck, we should mention a crucial principle concerning the length of your pitch.
You'll want to limit yourself to 15 minutes or less.
By restricting the pitch and making it shorter, you'll make it really concentrated and focused on nothing but the important stuff.
Here's what you need to get into those 15 minutes:
The purpose of your pitch is to take your prospect on an emotional journey that depicts where they are and how they fit into your agency and preps them for the sale. You'll need to establish authority and make the prospect care about what you have to say.
You'll accomplish this by ensuring that they feel they're in the right place and talking to the right people. Then, you'll explain what the components of the process are from the side of your agency.
This includes your mindset, the theory behind how you execute and deliver, and the way that you make it happen in practice. This part is important because it communicates to the prospect that they aren't your guinea pig.
You've done this type of work before, and you have a reliable, repeatable process. That they can trust you. Moving forward, you'll need to explain what your services entail to reinforce the idea of your expertise and specialization.
This will also set the expectations for the results. Of course, you won't talk about your process in great detail. Instead, you'll provide enough explanation so that the prospect buys into it and doesn't want you to move outside that process.
By showing them exactly how you deliver results, you'll simultaneously teach the prospect all they need to know about the solutions you offer and ensure that they feel you're the right choice.
From here, you can move into case studies to illustrate the results that your agency can provide. Finally, you'll get to the testimonials and social proof that will showcase how you've been able to help other people accomplish their goals.
The key thing about presenting your capabilities deck is to approach it with the right mindset. You don't want to deliver your pitch like you're selling, but add some swag to it. It would be best not to think about it as pitching at all.
Think about how you're telling the prospect about the things you've done and how you did it. Be relaxed about it and simply present your agency as the phenomenal thing that it is. However, don't lose sight of your prospect's needs and how what you do relates to their issues.
If you deliver your capabilities deck effectively, you'll be able to move directly into a strategy session or a discovery call.
A discovery call is one of your opportunities to build rapport even further.
It's where you dig deeper into your prospects' challenges and work out how you'll resolve them.
Sometimes, the discovery call isn't about what you say at all but how you say it.
Your tone and how you present yourself can make all the difference because you're still leading the prospect through the journey that started
with your pitch.
If you want to set the purpose and the feel of the discovery call right, you'll need to approach it from an angle that will make the call as effective as possible. And you'll do that by working out the following key points.
Most agencies have a particular lifecycle that doesn't set them up for sales very well. You might've started out doing freelance work and got very good at it. Then, as time went by, the number of your clients grew, and you had to hire an employee.
After some time, you got even more clients, which meant you needed more employees, and you ended up starting a full-fledged agency. The issue is that no one in your team ever enjoyed sales or received any training in it.
As a result, you might still be in the mindset that, if you're to be a salesperson, you have to embody that used car salesman type mentioned in previous chapters. In fact, many agency owners describe sales as making them feel icky.
But it really doesn't have to be like that. Sales is about connecting, having a conversation, and helping someone else. And when you have a discovery call, this is the approach you'll need to take because that's when the sale happens. There's no attempt to trick anyone.
You aren't pulling one over on your prospects – you're only interested in exploring something that's mutually advantageous. You need to understand that your clients will buy into your process during the discovery call, not the proposal.
That's why it's important to change your mindset about sales from the very start. You aren't forcing a decision on your clients, and you aren't doing the call out of desperation to sell.
You're creating a bridge between your agency and the client that will allow you to provide a unique solution to the thing that's keeping them down.
Creating a genuine connection with the client will also depend on your mindset.
As you're presenting your service, you should do it from the point of understanding your client's struggles.
After all, that's the main purpose of your offer and the discovery call.
Your default viewpoint should always be that you're still building the relationship.
Converting prospects into clients is important, but it will only benefit you and them if you create a connection and genuinely approach the conversation.
This aspect might seem straightforward and self-explanatory, but it's easy to forget if you happen to slip back into the stereotypical sales mindset.
Maintain your focus on the person you're talking with and keep their needs and goals in mind.
The discovery call is the ideal time for you to curate the experience for the potential client to sell themselves.
You'll ask them questions about what they're looking for and what they want to get out of it.
Throughout that process, the client will start to recognize that you're exactly who they need to help them achieve what they want.
This way, your prospects will realize their ultimate goals and that the solution they need is in your agency.
In the end, you won't have to do much selling at all.
The client will get to that point on their own.
When you get clarity on what your clients need and how you'll provide the results, the question of the budget will need to come up. This is a crucial thing that many agencies struggle with because they believe that getting a number is almost impossible.
However, you can find that information out if you set up the conversation properly. The way to do that is by starting the discovery call with a question:
"Are you okay having a detailed conversation about your business today?"
Of course, the client will say that they are okay with that and give you permission to ask them various questions. With that permission, you'll be able to ask about their budget.
When talking about the budget directly, you should ask what their budget was last year rather than ask about the current situation. The majority of people will have no problem sharing that information.
Even if they refuse, you can remind them that they said it was okay to have a detailed conversation. It's also useful to acknowledge that many people don't like answering this question, but it would be a great way to understand where your client is.
Asking about the budget is how you can ensure that your services can bring the clients the best ROI, and that's something you should let them know.
If you feel nervous about asking the budget question, keep in mind that you're not asking about private information, even though it might seem that way. You're trying to find out what you're working with so that you can maximize the results.
Sales is often seen as an activity for extroverted people, which can discourage many creatives when selling themselves. However, if you're an introvert, it doesn't mean that you don't have what it takes.
If you talk to our clients today, all of them would say that Robert Patin is a natural at sales. And yet, that's not who I was to begin with. In fact, I've been introverted for most of my life, a textbook nerd.
I've always been an analytical, straight-to-the-point person, but I didn't really truly socialize until my mid-20s. Then, I started becoming a bit more social and believing in myself and, finally, discovered a part of my personality that was actually very charismatic.
The thing that switched everything around and allowed me to present that charismatic side might sound ridiculous, but it worked. Before every sales meeting, I would stand in a Superman pose for about five minutes and tell myself that I'm awesome, and I'm going to nail it.
Then, when I'd start feeling emboldened and stronger, I'd get into the meeting room. I told you it would sound ridiculous! But the fact is that doing this helped me become better and more confident.
But I wasn't just getting better in sales – I was becoming me more and more. Being extroverted isn't a thing that you have to put on as an act. It's about letting your true you get through, regardless of what anyone thinks of it.
When you get into a discovery call, you won't need to "turn on" some special power to be genuine and charismatic. Just be who you are.
The ultimate point of a discovery call is for you to gather information and let the client tell you why they need you.
As they're going through that experience, they'll start gaining the conceptual buy-in.
The client will explain why they need you, and you can guide them along by dropping in little nuggets of expertise.
Then you can start to nurture and grow the client's buy-in with more pieces of information at different stages.
It's like you're showing the prospect the answer to all their questions and then putting it back in your pocket.
This way, you'll warm them up and strengthen the connection without giving them too much material to handle.
You should always keep in mind that the entire sales process is essentially about building a relationship. It's not as complex as it seems because you've been building relationships since childhood.
Just as you've connected with people and made them like you, your agency can do the same. There's no reason to build the process up in your head and make it overwhelming.
Keep it simple and remember that all you're really doing is connecting to another person who needs your help.
There's a principle that can help you significantly in sales:
The person who loves the least is the one that gets pursued the most. Of course, this doesn't mean you should actively try to appear uninterested.
Instead, the principle is about dialing yourself back just a little and transferring the dynamic so that the client's more interested in what you have to offer. Refraining from appearing too eager isn't just a matter of appearance but also a matter of fact.
Remember, your prospects do need you more than you need them, and it's only natural that will make you more attractive to them.
A story from Dale Carnegie's excellent book How to Win Friends and Influence People is very relevant to this point.
The story is about a family with two children where the younger kid didn't want to go to school.
Rather than ordering the child to go regardless of how they felt, the parents decided to handle the situation differently.
They told the kid to go and get ready for bed, and then they sat down with the older sibling and started doing finger-painting and other fun stuff.
The younger child heard them and came to ask if they could join in with the fun. At that point, the parents said that only kids who've gone to school could do that stuff. The result was, of course, that the kid eagerly went to school the next day.
You can apply the same mentality to sales. You don't need to force your prospects into working with you. All you need to do is remove the sales part from the sell and present them with the awesome things that will come if they take you up on your offer.
Finally, there are seven strict rules that you should always apply to your discovery calls.
We call them "The Seven Commandments of Discovery Calls," and they're straightforward principles that don't require explanation:
Keep these seven commandments in mind. Don't break them under any circumstances, and make them the core of your discovery calls.
There's a process that might take place when your potential client is a large company – a request for proposal or RFP.
Typically, this is a structured process that allows big companies to get multiple proposals from different sides and discount the price as much as possible. We aren't huge fans of RFPs for several key reasons.
First, the negotiation that happens around an RFP doesn't necessarily lead to your agency getting any business.
The goal of the process is for the large company to get a service that's cheaper than the incumbent agency, possibly even merely looking to get that agency to discount their current fees.
As a result, when you get an RFP, you'll likely spend a lot of time preparing and figuring out your proposal, talking to the company, and submitting all of the necessary paperwork. However, in most cases, you won't get the business.
This is the downside of working with potential enterprise clients that many agencies aren't aware of. But the second reason why we don't like RFPs might sound even worse.
Even if you get the job with an enterprise client, there's a real possibility that your creative license will be limited and you'll become burdened by company procedures. However, it's worth noting that not every enterprise client will be like that.
The bottom line of RFPs is that you should be careful when responding to them and do thorough research before engaging with that type of client. Make a calculated decision and ensure that the business you get is worth it.
If you go about this carefully, you might end up striking gold. But if you start responding to RFPs without such considerations, you'll likely just end up losing time and energy.
By now, it should be clear that your pitch and discovery calls have a clear purpose in making it possible to reach clients and help them. If you've adopted that mindset and accepted sales as the positive process it is, you're already on the right path.
The way your agency grows and scales will largely depend on your sales techniques and how much you focus on what your prospects need.
If you want to get the opportunity to engage new clients and provide them with the best results through your services, you'll need to master sales first. A great deal of planning goes into nailing the pitch and coming up with an ideal discovery call plan.
However, once you have those elements in place, your agency will be ready to start scaling and fulfill its purpose.
There's an unfortunate trend in Hollywood blockbusters lately. When a new movie is about to be released, there's all this hype with marketing and trailers that get people very excited.
For a few weeks or even months, everybody's talking about when the movie will hit theaters and streaming services, and fans are going crazy counting down to the premier.
Finally, the flick starts showing, and audiences flock to see the mind-bending masterpiece they've been promised... Only to be left utterly disappointed. If you have seen a so-called blockbuster in the last decade, you have probably experienced this.
These are the type of movies where all of the best scenes are already in the trailer. But when you watch the whole thing, it turns out those scenes were the only thing worth watching.
Sure, these flicks raked in a lot of money, but they certainly didn't live up to the hype created around them. In fact, after letting down such a huge number of fans, they more likely spelled doom for the franchises than managed to uplift them.
And worst of all, maybe those movies would've had a better reception if not for the marketing presenting them as the best thing since sliced bread. There's an apt analogy here.
Movie marketing is much the same as making a sales pitch and outreaching, and the premier can be compared to closing the deal. Everything you do up to the close is the build-up, just like a movie trailer.
When the moment actually comes to close the deal, you must ensure that it doesn't make the whole thing fall flat. The way you close will be critical to all that you have done so far. And in this chapter, you will learn how to ensure the whole process ends up a success.
When it comes to the close, the vital point is that you have set certain expectations, and now you need to stick to them. This concept extends to the meeting. People need to know what to expect from you throughout the entire process.
If you have built up everything you can do, what your capabilities are, and what you can deliver, it would be very detrimental to get to the meeting and back down on those expectations. You do not want to end up in such a situation.
That's why following up on the expectations you have created is paramount, but there's more that goes into creating a successful close.
Another crucial principle with closure is: the sooner, the better. When in meetings, never give people too much time to think.
Same as you wouldn't want to talk yourself out of a sale, you shouldn't give the prospect the opportunity to do so, either. This is where the timeline of the close comes in.
It is best to have it structured and be very specific about it. Keep in mind that the more downtime you give to a prospect, the more likely it will be for them to overthink it.
The key thing about structuring the close is to let the prospect know what you will be talking about and set up the following meetings. Again, you need to set expectations and follow them through.
For example, you could say that you will give them the contract on Monday, then set up a meeting to go over it on Wednesday, and have a follow-up meeting on Friday.
What you shouldn't do is just send the proposal and let the prospect know that you will meet them to talk about it or leave it to them to get back to you.
Another thing you definitely shouldn't do is get too specific with the timeline, describing what the meeting will look like from one minute to the next. Have a clear outline, set the expectations, and let the actual conversation progress so that it feels organic.
Regarding those expectations, you should always aim for the so-called BAMFAM – Book a Meeting from a Meeting. This lines up with the example we made. Instead of sealing the deal in a single conversation, create a progression from one meeting to another.
This approach will allow you to structure the close and cover the crucial principles within the timeline.
When you are moving into the close, there's one red flag that should always grab your attention.
It often happens when agencies make proposals: the client starts saying what they want, and the agency gives in on every request rather than pushing back, establishing themselves as the advisor.
This approach can lead to many issues, from the client developing unrealistic expectations to the agency suffering from scope creep and
eventually not delivering the best results. One of our clients had a brilliant way of dealing with this problem.
When a prospect asked them to complete a project in a specific timeframe, they returned with a timeframe that was twice as long and a price that surpassed the prospect's budget four times.
The prospect was taken aback. They replied, "We said that we needed it to be done in three months." Our client said: "Would you prefer to have our first idea or our best idea?
With the timeline that you outlined, we would only have time for the first idea. We do not believe that is the best way forward, so we have presented you with a timeline that would allow for the best results.
Any agency that suggests that they can do it in your timeline will be providing you with their first idea." The way our client handled this situation covered a great number of potential issues.
Through one response, they dealt with the objection, negated competitors, gained credibility, and pushed back against the prospect, which garnered more respect.
Reacting promptly to objections will set the tone for the follow-up meetings, reaffirm expectations, and allow you to stick to the plan and maintain the timeline for the close. And all of that will depend on how you deliver your proposal.
Emailing your proposal is the number one mistake I see agencies regularly make in sales.
There's zero excitement to it – no pizzazz, no objection management, no charisma, nothing.
It is like getting your audience hyped for a movie and then giving them a bootleg version to watch over their phone.
As a result, it becomes easier for clients to reject your proposal and misinterpret or even overlook the value of your service.
All of the passion and engagement we have talked about previously will simply evaporate if you wrap it up with an email proposal.
If you want to create the best opportunity for a close, you should get in front of your clients. Then, you can address any initial objections and enhance the entire experience.
When you deliver your proposal through a call, you can remind the client why they started talking with you in the first place, remind them of their need or "why."
Many things could happen between the last conversation you had with the client and the time you make the proposal. That's why you need to reconnect with them and refresh the trust that you have already built.
Remember, you have gained the client's conceptual buy-in during the discovery call. That was when the majority of the sale happened.
In other words, your proposal is not about selling because that part was already covered. When it comes to the close, you should re-establish the connection with the client because that connection is what sells.
You should remind your client of what they described, reconnect them to the feeling that they had in prior meetings, manage any objections, and provide them the cost.
And, as we stated, it is much easier for them to say No if you provide your proposal via email. In sales, everything's about connection, the relationship you build, and the emotion.
When you email your proposal, you do not get any of that. On the other hand, in a live conversation, you can ensure that your client remembers the relationship that was established around their need and your ability to deliver.
You will do that more easily if you follow the five key principles of closing.
Because most of the sale happens previous to the close, a lot of what you will talk about with the client will be about reiterating the points you have made earlier. However, there are certain beats you will need to hit precisely to really drive the conversation home.
Pay attention to these principles, and you will make the close go much smoother.
1. Reaffirm the Need
Reaffirming the client's need is pretty much self-explanatory, but it is also a critical factor. This is the point at which you are reminding the client why they're here.
You should start with talking about why the client called you and that you described to them how you could deliver on their needs. In essence, you should reiterate the same things that you have gone over before.
However, there's more than repeating everything the client told you in the previous meeting back to them when it comes to this principle. You can make it more detailed.
One great way to do so is by creating a pseudo-consultative experience by highlighting the client's needs with different colors. For example, you could create a chart and assign a color for the level of help they need with different aspects of their work.
Green could be for things your client can handle themselves and red for those only you could resolve. In the vast majority of cases, the chart will be mostly red by the time you are done.
This is an excellent visual representation that will remind the client how much they need your help. It is also a great lead-in for the next principle, which will be all about their frustration.
2. Connect Their Frustration to Your Service
Once you have outlined the client's need, you should expand on the frustration that comes from having unresolved issues. When your client sees everything that needs to be done, they will remember precisely what their concerns and pain points are.
They will become more aware of the problems they're facing because those will be stated outright. At this point, it would be good to go over everything that might happen if the client's issues do not get fixed.
Then, once you have re-established the frustration, you can remind the client how your service relates to it. This conversation already took place before, so you do not have to emphasize the main points too much.
And you certainly do not want to sound salesy. The main thing you will want to achieve here is to bring up the main frustration and reinforce the idea that your service can help the client alleviate it. Bring their existing position and emotion back to the surface.
3. It Is Riskier to Not Engage Than Engage
When talking about this principle, it is worth mentioning that you should position and frame it in a specific way.
While you want to get the point across that it is riskier for your client not to engage, you do not want to sound like you are using fear tactics or pressuring them into the close. After all, you have already brought up the critical matters by now.
Instead, you should focus on the benefits the client will get by working with you regarding their pain points. This is especially useful if you are doing a monthly retainer-type engagement.
Going by the color-coded example we mentioned earlier, you can show the client how you will handle the red areas first. Then, moving from those most demanding aspects to the green areas, explain what adjustments and improvements you could make even to the areas that the client believes are working just fine.
By showcasing how you will alleviate the pain and frustration, you will simultaneously point out why having your help will be less risky for the client than staying where they are.
You can emphasize this point further by exploring what your client is likely feeling right now about their future.
However, do not linger on agitating the existing problems. you will want to remind them of the issues without making it feel raw, and you will do just that if you keep your focus on the solutions that you have got in store for them.
4. Maintain Excitement
Through the close, you should maintain a specific tone. On the one hand, you do not want the process to be just a pleasant experience that reassures the client that they're in the right place.
But on the other hand, you also do not want to create fear or uncertainty in their mind. Your tone needs to convey the same level of excitement that you had during the discovery call.
Drawing from the previous principle, you should get your client looking forward to awesome things to come and get them eager to
engage fully as soon as possible. Remember, this doesn't mean the same thing as selling to the client.
Look at it like this:
Take Doubletree. You know the client's hungry, and you have already baked a tray of warm, tasty cookies for them. The cookies are ready, and you are willing to give them to the client – it is up to them to take up the offer.
All you need to do in that regard is make sure that those cookies stay warm. In other words, you have already built the excitement initially.
During the close, you have to keep the client enthusiastic about the results they're about to get.
5. Proposals Aren't for Selling (They're for Detailing Scope)
The final principle has to do with the purpose of your proposal. While we have already established that the selling part has happened before, it is a point worth repeating and something you must always keep in mind.
However, that's only half of the story that explains what your proposal is not for. Let's look at what the goal is. The closing conversation should deal in large part with detailing exactly what's included in your services and what is not.
Both you and the client need to have a very clear understanding of the expectations and what you will be doing. This is also about setting boundaries. You should bring up all of the details of what will be delivered and clarify the expectations for everything included and excluded from that delivery.
As you are working out the details of the deal, you will likely come upon certain objections.
Most of the time, these will be related to how quickly you can get the project done, the scope of the work, or the price.
Even after you have precisely outlined everything you will do, the client might ask for some adjustments that fall outside of the boundaries you have set.
In that case, it is crucial to handle such objections in a way that reaffirms your authority and the value of your service.
This is especially important when it comes to pricing.
When clients have a very particular problem, and you have a specific way of resolving it, the scope and timing of your delivery will most likely be established well.
And if any objections emerge that are related to that, you can handle them relatively easily.
Think back to the example of our client who pushed back on the prospect trying to rush the project.
Typically, when it comes to pricing, many agencies tend to give way to their clients’ requests, discounting their services and setting a bad precedent.
If a client asks you whether you could do the work for a lesser price and you agree to it, you will create certain expectations in their mind.
In every subsequent case, the client may likely think that your price is not a solid number and that they could get another discount. So, how do you answer if the client asks you to lower the price for a service?
You can say, "Sure, no problem. What do you want us to leave out?" You should always keep in mind that your price is there for a reason. It is not just a number you have made up. It signifies the worth of your services and respect for their value.
Through your actions, you will need to make prospective clients aware of that fact. Otherwise, they can actually deteriorate the quality of the relationship you are building with clients.
When you keep a fixed price for the service you provide, your relationship with the client is based on the value you provide. The conversation revolves around the quality of your service and the solutions you can offer while your pricing is set and unquestionable.
This way, you put yourself in a position where the uniqueness of your work is paramount. In contrast, once you start giving discounts, the relationship starts revolving around the price, becoming transactional.
These relationships will always collapse the moment somebody else comes by and offers a slightly better deal. Through discounts, all you will do is devalue your service.
Remember that you do not need extremely high closure rates, which means you do not have to change your offer just to make the client agree to your proposal. What you want are clients who will pay what you are worth.
Now that you have read about everything that goes into a successful close, it should be clear that it is very much an art.
Closing the deal properly will require you to have a certain approach, plan out how you will time the meetings with clients and achieve complete clarity on the crucial aspects of the process.
Besides keeping to the key principles of the close and knowing what to talk about, you will also need to pay attention to how you conduct the conversation.
In other words, the tone you establish will play a role in the outcome, too. If you have done everything else right, the close will be about wrapping up and working out the details.
Keep in mind the expectations you have created earlier in the process and stay true to them when making your proposal, and be careful not to create new, unrealistic expectations at the finish line.
Finally, it is important to repeat the point of handling objections and not agreeing on discounts. As you are getting ready to close the deal, be wary of creating precedents that might jeopardize your relationship with the client in the future.