How To Close The Deal
Let's get to the part we love. We love actually closing the deal. Do you like my stock photography? I love that. Closing. Good news and bad news. I have bad news, and I have good news. You have no control over whether or not this deal gets closed, and then, you do have control, over whether or not this deal gets closed. You literally are simultaneously in control and not in control. And that is dramatically frustrating. So I'm gonna show you a talk about a few things that can help you have more control, or at least, deal with the situation. So the first thing, I cannot understate, in terms of its importance, I don't know how many literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue that I have closed because I got there first. When I get, okay, the typical sequence for me, is I get an email, someone says I have this project, I have this need, I'd probably respond to them within a minute. Soon as I say great, love it, thanks, let's get a call set up immediately, 24/7, and I don't care ...
where I am, I could be anywhere in the world. We get another call, I understand the thing, as soon as I get off the call, ideally, ideally, I am working on the proposal, I am getting the proposal done, it is literally in their inbox before they get back from getting up to go to the water fountain. So fast. And what that does is, they get back from the water fountain and they're like, not only did they have such an incredible phone call with that guy, that guy Peter, but he is so responsive, and was so fast in getting his proposal together, the other two agencies, that I reached out too, said they needed two weeks to get the proposal back. How is my project gonna run? That is horrible. Why am I gonna wait two more weeks? And I already have a meeting set up with my boss, two days from now, to go over the proposals, and I've got Peter's, and we're just gonna improve it. I'm just gonna work with that. That is magic. I don't know how many times it happened, but it has happened enough to be, at the top of my list. So get your proposals done immediately, like so fast, I don't care if the phone call happens at 5:00 PM, you've got a dinner at six, write the proposal on your laptop, in the cab, on the way to dinner, hit send before you get into the dinner. Please. Number one. Use number of weeks. You know this one already. Use number of weeks, I guess all these things need asterisks, use number of weeks unless you're determined that you're really determined that you really don't need to use number of weeks, this is just protection. This is just, if the deal closes. So this is in the closing section again, remember? If the deal closes, you do not want to be screwed, because you promised July 14th as the delivery date, and four weeks have gone by since they got the proposal, and now you need four more weeks, and they go, great! Congratulations, we wanna work with you. And you're like, oh. It's awesome, but we gotta deliver it mid-August. And they're gonna go, but you promised July 14th. I will guarantee you, one million thousand hundred million thousand percent that that will happen, they will say that, it's a big number, kagillion. So use number of weeks. This is hard to enforce. But provide a clear drop dead date, which is, if you don't sign this proposal by July one, we are not going to be able to do it, because you need to launch the thing September one, you will not have enough time. Cause I guarantee you, when you put that drop-dead date in there of July one, and they approve it on July two, you will say yes, and then was that a drop-dead date? And now where's your credibility? And how are you really gonna say no, now? Since you, well then it wasn't a drop dead date, it was the second, wasn't it? Oh, but what happens if they came back on the third? So you need to really figure out, is there a drop-dead date. And the only way to figure that out, is to find, so these dates and these timelines, it's like, pushing on a string, right, you know this phrase. Many parts of a project are string. So it doesn't fully matter if you push them up a day or two, or a week, you're not gonna die. You have to find out which thread of work is not the string, it is rigid, that is literally, literally going to take 30 full days, or whatever that is. It could be an engineering component, it could be, it could be a venue, and if you're renting a sound stage, for video production, or some other studio, for photography, and you know that there are only 30 days in this month, and there's only one date available for you, and if we miss it, shoot isn't happening. So you gotta find the one thing that's rigid, and maybe that's how you build your drop-dead date. This is so hard. I mean we struggle today still to try to provide a drop-dead date, and if it comes, to not do the project, and then somehow we still continue to do the project, because we wanna do the project. That's why we wrote the proposal, that's why we've talked and invested time in scoping these things. So, I think the best, I don't mean this to be cliched, but I think the best way to think about closing business, prospecting, scoping, and closing business, is this is all chess. The whole thing is chess. And so if you look at these pieces, you can imagine, maybe the back row, these are the deliverables, and the pawns up front, those are like the small things that could happen that, you know, if they happen, like if they sign a day later, or they end up cutting the QA testing budget or whatever, you need to know, A, that that's possible, B, you need to know what your move is if it happens. Every single piece of that proposal. So when I write a proposal, I write it knowing, if they push back on the engineering cost, what am I gonna say back. And sometimes, I actually know they're gonna push back on price, and what I'm willing to do when they do, is I'm gonna cut back the deliverable. They're gonna say well, Peter, you proposed $50, for the project, we can only really approve 30 right now. And I'll say, well, instead of building you this size thing, we're gonna build this. Just because you push back on price, doesn't mean you get to have the same deliverable. If we can't do it, we can't do it. Or, I'm willing to just throw the chessboard up, and not take the project off. And then the pawns, again, this goes back to, you know, if they sign a day later, the king and queen, I don't know, this is not a full analogy, king and queen, man, what happens if those get pushed around. From a web build point of view? I'll be honest. In the early days, I needed the game to happen. I just needed to close projects. And so, I was probably willing to not sleep, I was probably willing to pay people more, and I might have paid them for rush fees or other things like that, because we have a lot of freelance input, so I probably wasn't flipping the board over a lot. But I think, once you get in a position of not having to play the game, that's nice, when it's your game to control, that's a good position to be in, takes some real doing to get there, so. Happy to answer any questions about closing, from the web audience or the live studio, because the next section's gonna be about operating projects, which I'm sure there's some questions about. Go ahead.
I was wondering, after sending the proposal, how much do you guys have to follow up, or do you have too? Until what, how much time?
I have several responses for that. The first response is, ideally, I don't, at all. Ideally my mission is to project and deliver proposals out into the universe all the time. And some of them are gonna come back signed. And then they're gonna get executed. And that happens a lot. There's probably right now, 30 or 40 proposals out there in the world from my company waiting to be signed, and almost all of them I'm not worried about following up on and they're either gonna get signed or they're not gonna get signed. At the same time, depending on what your revenue needs are of the moment, and the financial plan that's occurring and your cost basis of revenue, the company, all these things, you may or may not be more stressed out and may or may not need to follow up more than you might have thought. So, closing is sort of like pushing on a string too. You can't force it. That's why the upfront sign was like, you can control it, and you cannot. So your following up, is not going to get the thing closed, necessarily, your following up may get you more information about whether or not it may close, or whether or not it may not, or if you've already lost it, and you just didn't know. So, the mission from a real biz-dev point of view is, get more proposals out the door. To qualify prospects. So, that's solves all the problems. So would you rather have a hundred proposals out in the universe, that only one person is gonna sign, or would you rather have three out in the universe that three are gonna sign? Right? So, and the three, you don't have to worry about following up. Would you rather follow up with 99 people? There you go. So it's not about follow-up. Yeah.
Is there a framework you use, or any kind of questions and answers that you wanna receive before you can sign a proposal, like budget, deadline.
So many, so many. I have said no to a prospective project just by the tone of someone's voice on the phone, I have not followed up with someone just because of the way they wrote their email, I am very, very sensitive about people's approach to us as possibly a vending machine that distributes videos and websites and marketing campaigns, rather than, highly skilled and highly trained professionals that deserve respect and admiration for the work that we do. So, when someone calls me, treats me like I'm just another schlub of another commodity service provider, I'm like, just don't talk to me. I don't even wanna, I'm not gonna read that email, I'm not gonna get on that phone call, so I'm initially detecting whether or not just really don't wanna work with these people based on the way the view the world. And I'm trying to detect the opposite side of the spectrum, which is like, do they have a real admiration for us? When I get an email which is like, I've known about you guys for so long, and I've always wanted to work with you, and now we've got a great project, I'm like, great. Let's talk. And when I get the email that starts, we're reaching out to 15 agencies to determine whether or not we should shove you through our procurement system, I usually do not pay attention. And I have not paid attention to some of the biggest companies in the world, that started their emails that way. And I prefer not too. Because I just don't have, I only have so much time in the day, so I'm gonna work with a evil empire borg of a procurement system, or I'm gonna work with a really great person that really wants to work with us. That's a binary choice. So that's one thing. There are two things, the most important two things, for me when I'm trying to qualify an opportunity, it's budget and timeline. That's really it. And, when someone reaches out, and say hey, we've got a project, we're xyz brand, I say, that's wonderful, I'd be happy to jump on the call with you, but can you give me a sense of your budget and timeline so I can determine whether or not we can work on this? It's literally the first question I ask, and it's the question I ask in email. And, some people will write back, and they'll say, happy to jump on a call, you know the budget is somewhere between 100 and 200 K, or there's no budget allocated yet. That's the worst response. So I get on the phone, and we're talking, we have a great conversation, and I say, okay, great, I'll be happy to write a proposal, I need to get an understanding of the budget, and they'll say, well, we're looking for you to give us a sense for the budget. And I'll say, well, about a million dollars. And they're like, no, no no no. I'm like, okay, so it's not a million dollars. And I'll say, okay, if I wrote your proposal, so what I'm trying to do there, it's like, break the ice of like, we can talk about money! Like talking about money is okay. It's not taboo. Let's talk about it, because you know you're going to use it, to make something with us, it's a key part of the equation, let's talk about it. So, usually I'm on the phone, and I say, okay, let's talk about budget, and they'll say, well yeah, we're looking for you to show us that, or, we're hoping that all the vendors come back with a bid, and I'll say, okay. This is my favorite all-time trick. Internet, you're gonna want this one. I'll say, if I send you a proposal for a quarter million dollars, are you gonna love that, or are you gonna freak out? And I will use the word freak out. I will use some word that is more colloquial, and more emotional, because I want them to feel it. And they'll go, oh my God, yeah. Like we would totally freak out if you sent a quarter of a million dollar proposal. And now I'm judging based on their emphatic-ness, as to what the budget is. And I go, okay. So this sounds like it's more like a hundred, 150 K. They're like, well, if you could get it more toward the hundred, and I'm like, now I have, now I have the budget. Why would I have to go through that ridiculous exercise. You could have just said, Peter, we only have 100 grand for this thing, can you write the proposal. So that's the game. And I do that all the time. And I've been teaching our staff to do that, and they've been doing it, and they're starting to understand it, it's a stupid ritual, that we do. And I don't do it when I hire, like we just built a new office space last year, we spent a lot of money on it, we hired architects and all this stuff, and I said, I have this amount of money for the project, tell me what you can do for it, or if this is relevant. And they're like no, that's great, that's cool. Good. So yeah, that's one of the most frustrating parts of this business, is when people won't share with you, their budgets. And the timeline piece, what I'm trying to get at is, is there a hard deadline, or is there a soft deadline. And a hard deadline is, oh yeah, 100% level, this project needs to launch on August one, because it's the big conference that we're having, so we need the big video up there for the CEO to introduce, or the website has to go up, or whatever, or it's like no, I mean it's just, we're launching new product in Q4, so, most of the marketing, we're just probably gonna start rolling out in dribs and drabs in September, October, so, okay. Now I can start to see the rough timeline. So hard or soft on timeline, and then, try to get that budget. I almost never write a proposal without a budget. I say almost because, sometimes, it's a brand that I really wanna work with, and I, my samurai tricks of being able to get the budget out of them didn't work. I'm like, okay, and I'll just run the numbers. I'll just do staffing exercise, and I'll out with a number, and I just hate that, because I feel like you can deliver something that's dead in the water, or sticker shock, and that is what you wanna avoid, because it's a binary discussion at that point. You just lose. And I might have been able to figure out a different project structure, for half the price, but we didn't get to talk about it, I had no guidance, and now I'm not working on this thing, why? Why didn't we get married? Any other questions about this?
So something I ran into with a lot of the creative people, in terms of working with individuals, versus businesses.
Oh yeah, love this one.
People just have no sense of your worth or your value, and so do you have any tricks, samurai tricks for how to approach that?
You're not gonna like my answer. I have a very clear rule, and I've said this so many times. We will not work with anyone where the check is coming out of their bank. Lemme just elaborate. If it's a corporation, the marketing manager, it's not their bank account. They do not actually care. It is not a visceral experience with having to write a check for 10 grand, or 20 grand, or one grand, or whatever it is. If it is a nail salon owner, that $100 is coming out of their bank account, and it hurts. And they had to file a lot of nails to get there. So I refuse to work with people that that check is coming out of their bank account. So it's probably different for your business, it may be very different for people, specifically, maybe photographers who are maybe doing wedding photography work or otherwise, God, we just hired a wedding photographer, I'm getting married in August, and I have to be the best client in the world. I was just like, what's your price. They're like, this is what it is, I'm like, great. Let's do it. Because I know that they're gonna tell me what they charge, and why should I beat them up, and try and tell them that they're worth less?
That feels so bad, right.
Welcome to my life.
Yeah! So, if we were to be your business model, Kim, I might encourage you to offer a different service mix, and to think about different sales channels and potential customer targets, instead of maybe individuals who are not likely to part with lots of money, without an emotional response for your services. I wanna stay away from emotions in money. I just want to stay focused on the money piece. Whenever we can avoid the emotion part, you're gonna be much more successful.
I just want to clarify on that real quick. Cause I mean we have had people who do work one-on-one with individuals, I mean, that example you just said, throwing out that millions dollars and gaging them, you could still do that with an individual right? Obviously you start at a lower number, but the thought process is the same, with an individual. You wanna see where they're at, and then you work on a specific number, right?
Sure. You're actually alluding to a tactic I like to use, and many people like to use, if there's someone you really don't wanna work with, just bid really high, because if they say yes, it's worth the pain. It works.
But what about also if, even a committee I'm working with, they just have no sense for what it's worth, or what goes into the project that they're asking for?
I'll say a few things. I do think that it is incumbent on all of us who are craftsmen and practitioners of something, who create something of value that people need to buy, to educate our customers. To educate our customers, as long as we believe that that education process is required in order to close the deal. Because if the deal is gonna close anyway, then the project is gonna execute, great, and be delivered without them understanding, who cares. They just wanna write your check to make a video, and they get it, and we're done. That's fine. But if you feel like, in order for them to sign off on the thing, they need to understand the process, and the inputs, and the time that I put in, and the real value of this thing, that you have to demonstrate that value. It means that your value proposition is not clear enough, and you need to make it clear. And that may take education to make clear. I personally like to work on things that the value prop is assumed, it's automatic, it's like, yes of course we need to give you a lot of money to make a mobile or a web thing, because we need the mobile and web thing. Much easier than if I'm trying to sell websites to people. I'm not trying to sell websites to people. I'm actually trying to receive the requests for the making of websites. Which is different.