From my own experience working with sales professionals, I know that by the time you get to the Close, you should already have created such strong sponsorship within the situation that it’s hardwired for the Close. In fact, we tend to think about the collaboration leading up to the Close as just as important, if not more so, as planning for the Close.
The situation we recommend that you are in at closing time is this: your sponsor and you should be in it together. You are creating a plan for how you are going to execute and make the deal happen, going well beyond just getting the right signatures on a contract.
There are several things you can do throughout the sales cycle to put yourself in this superior position to close deals:
- Find the right sponsor. Look for someone on the decision-making team who is invested in moving the deal forward. They typically have a lot on the line in terms of wanting to see this through and achieve the desired results. Be proactive in looking for someone with the ability to be a change agent.
- Don’t hitch your wagon to the wrong horse. Another element of finding the right sponsor is not making the common mistake of choosing one with little credibility or authority within the organization. A sponsor must be someone who is respected, can make decisions, and is in a position to help get things done.
- Map all stakeholders. Many people may be involved in the decision-making process. The best way to identify potential sponsors is to map all the players. Then, begin to build an understanding of their motivators and their influencers.
- Understand your sponsor’s motivations. Invest the time to understand your sponsor, whether it’s one person or several, then build a story or vision around how your proposal supports their success. You might focus on how it can make them look smart, elevate their career status, or meet whatever aspirations are important to them. These are things sponsors don’t necessarily talk about, but by understanding their motivators, you can reinforce how the deal can help them achieve their goals.
- Convey the real importance of the Close. To your sponsor, the Close should become more than just an approval of the deal. The true importance of the Close should be about the results that you get from collaborating with this person or this team.
Throughout the sales process, you should be creating so much value with and for your sponsor, the team, and the company, that the Close becomes a non-event. All should be eager to get started on the project and be invested both in wanting you to win the deal and in achieving the results your proposal has promised.