In Order to Close, You Have to Make Real Connections

Listen Up: Don't Get Too Comfortable With Digital Dialogue

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Anthony DelMonte
Anthony Del Monte
I recently told my marketing director that I'd take a meeting with Kim Jong Il. Well, I can't. He's not seeing people right now, and he seems like a pretty cruel bastard anyway, so maybe not. But what I meant was that I am intellectually curious about people. All people.

This is a pretty good trait for a salesperson, entrepreneur or agency head to have. I'm positive it has helped me lead my agency through good times and bad. I very recently dug out my kindergarten report card and -- lo and behold -- the teacher's written comment was how interested in everyone I was (and evidently Bernice a little too much). But enough about me.

Time isn't money; it's something much more valuable. Sit back and list all the issues with getting in touch with the right person: Summers are typically slow in our industry, the holidays aren't good because decision makers aren't around, Fridays people are already thinking about the weekend, Mondays they are just getting around to clearing their desk, time differences (EST, PST, MST, AHHH!), the ups and downs of the market, religious and national events -- the list goes on and on. Take all of these obstacles into account and what do you end up with? One hundred days or so to make rain.

I don't care how good of a closer you are. Having only 100 days a year means your batting average better be that of Teddy Ballgame (Ichiro for a modern equivalent).

So what does this mean to you and me? It means we better be closing all the damn time.

I'm sure if you sat back and did a realistic assessment of your business you would be able to trace back a majority of your success to a handful of conversations. No, not the ones that closed the deal. I'm talking about the ones that helped you get to that final conversation, the ones that were based on your intellectual curiosity. Point being: If you didn't have these convos you would never have been in a position to realize the true opportunities that came down the road.

Today it's easier to connect than it was a year ago -- and worlds beyond where it was 10 years ago. Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, IM, e-mail ... the damn telephone (no one uses it anymore!). They are all vehicles to enter into a dialogue with not only the brand director for Company X but more importantly your hair dresser, snack delivery guy or neighbor. Why these people too? Because they all have something to contribute that either can link you to your next account, or at least provide you with the insight and intelligence on what makes them tick -- which can inadvertently link to your next damn account.

It's not easy -- but then again nothing great is. And closers shoot for greatness, right?

We all know that guy -- the one who says "Yeah we'll hook up," "call me," "Facebook me" ... yada, yada, nada. If you commit to a meeting, a call, or a follow-up, make it happen and make it beneficial for both parties. I often use the example of immigrant communities (I'm first generation on one side, second on the other) as the best reference of exemplary closers. "Closing" here is getting your issue recognized, understood and resolved. I site this example a lot because I'm fortunate to live in a big city with a huge immigrant population, where on a daily basis one can witness the sheer power of a living breathing social network founded on helping each other for the betterment of the whole. To wit: Person A is in need of a service. He calls Person B, who refers him to Person C, and -- boom -- a connection is made. And this connection is trusted because all parties involved respect the community and recognize that their name is attached to the entire transaction.

At the core of this analogy (which I believe to be the root of success) is a concept even more fundamental: dialogue. And dialogue doesn't transpire when we get caught up in the comfort of the excuses listed above, the comfort that a digital world provides. We just get too damn comfortable with waiting, with hope. Well, hope is nice. But for the sake of your agency, you need to get uncomfortable. Talk to somebody. Start the process of closing. It may not be immediate, but it will pay out in the long run.

Anthony Del Monte is founder and president of Squeaky Wheel Media, New York.
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