Sales Closing Techniques

Episode 67: Sales Closing Techniques, with Hannah Roth

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Sales Closing Techniques, with Hannah Roth. Elevate your sales strategy and boost conversions by using these sales closing techniques.

Sales closing techniques — She’s back! My guest on this episode of Sell With Authority is none other than my esteemed colleague and dear friend, Hannah Roth. At Predictive ROI, Hannah is not just our mad scientist and strategist; she’s a force of nature when it comes to being relentlessly helpful. Whether she’s addressing our audience in person or virtually, Hannah’s unwavering dedication to providing immense value shines through in every interaction.

What truly sets Hannah apart is her commitment to crafting a curriculum that is meticulously prepared with one overarching goal: to deliver unparalleled value to our community and right-fit clients. She pours her expertise and insights into each presentation, ensuring that everyone who listens gains actionable takeaways.

I can promise you that the challenge we tackle today has likely hindered your results and made you feel like you’re trying to scale your business with one hand tied behind your back. We’re addressing a critical aspect of agency growth—selling.

Having spent the last three decades immersed in the agency and consultancy world, I firmly believe that there are significant constraints that impede agencies from transforming selling from a dirty word into a rewarding and helpful process for both prospects and clients.

Hannah and I dive into these constraints from various perspectives, shedding light on how they may be impacting your own agency. And we share some free resources, some advice, some strategies, and tactics to help get you and your team past the constraints.


What you will learn in this episode is about sales closing techniques

  • What happens when we give our smarts away without any expectation of a return
  • What is the best question to ask when starting the sales process, incorporating essential elements of successful sales closing techniques
  • How we can overcome hiding from selling because of fear
  • What needs to be at the forefront of our sales proposal
  • How to recover when the sales call outcome is not what we wanted or expected
  • Why a conceptual agreement and being upfront with the price will save time and energy
  • Three things listeners can do today to start improving their sales process



Sales Closing Techniques: Full Episode Transcript


Welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of predictive ROI. And holy bananas, this is hopefully going to be another one of those episodes where you ask yourself, what in the world was that? Because that was super helpful. In fact, perhaps we ought to call this episode the latest installment, which I think would be number five. Yeah, number five in our Holy Bananas series of interviews with my special guest expert today. So, I’m seeing her in the corner of my eye, waving around or waving her hands in the air, ’cause she’s excited. So, my guest today is none other than my esteemed colleague and dear friend, Hannah Roth. So, Hannah is our mad scientist and strategist here at Predictive ROI. You may have crossed paths with Hannah while she was teaching during one of our open mic Q and A as one of our two-day intensives, a teach-and-do session inside our Facebook group, or any number of other ways.


She consistently shares her smarts with our community of rock-solid, awesome agency owners and consultants. This, indeed, is Hannah’s fifth visit to the Sell With Authority podcast. One of the things that I appreciate most about Hannah is when she stands in front of our audience, either in person or virtually, she preps the curriculum with one overarching goal in mind: how to be relentlessly helpful with what she’s about to deliver. So, before I bring on Hannah, I’m going to set the stage here for the conversation we’re about to have because I promise you the issue and challenge that we tackle today has most likely impeded or hampered your results or at the very least, made you think it was an obstacle standing in your way. And until you get past it will feel like you’re trying to scale your shop with one hand tied behind your back.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to this episode: Sales Closing Techniques Without Feeling Like You’re Closing, with Hannah Roth


Sales Closing Techniques: Hannah’s Introduction


The issue that Hannah and I are going to squarely tackle today from a bunch of different perspectives is selling more specifically, having spent the last 30 years working inside agencies and consultancies, I believe there are several big constraints that block, impede, or prevent agencies from transforming that word selling and transforming it from being seen as a dirty word or something to shy away from, and then transforming it into a process that is super rewarding and incredibly helpful to your prospects and to your clients, not to you, but to your prospects and your clients. So I asked Hannah to join me for this episode so we could talk through the constraints, and perhaps you’ll see some of them at play inside your shop. Then, we’ll share some free resources, some advice, some strategies, tactics, and so forth to help get you and your team past the constraints and ready to score some wins with new clients. Okay. So, without further ado, welcome back to the Sell Wealth Authority podcast.


Thank you, Stephen. I, as always, am so excited to be here and especially looking forward to this conversation today because lately, we’ve been hearing from our audience, um, agencies and consultants, um, that they’re struggling with sales. Um, they’re getting frustrated with the slower sales cycle, slow decision-making, all kinds of things. So I’m really excited to jump into this.


Well, I’m excited, too. So, where do you think we should start? I know that you and Eric are on the front lines. You’re meeting with clients, and you’re meeting with prospective clients at times, too. You’re obviously hanging out in our community, going to events, and gathering all this feedback. So based on all of that, you know, in-the-trenches knowledge, like boots on the ground, where do you think we should start?


Oh, I could start with some of the things that we hear every day that are frustrations or pain points. That’ll kind of tee up our audience to let them know that this episode is for them. Okay. So one of the things that we consistently hear is, you know, things like, my close rate is only 30%, or I don’t have a process for selling, I just do it when I get a referral. One of the things we hear the most often is, I hate sales, which is a pretty strong statement. Um, but we hear it a lot. Um, another one of the problems and challenges is I sent a proposal, and they ghosted me. So, based on all of this different feedback, I know we’ve designed our self-immersion program to kind of tackle some of this. We talk about pricing strategy, conceptual agreement, how to establish an effective sales team, and things along those lines. But I think today, I guess my first question is, you’re obviously an experienced salesperson, so why do you think people hate sales?


Well,  so I’m going to tie this back to what you and I were just talking about in the green room.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Shifting Perspectives and Approaches


Sales closing techniques? I think one of the reasons why if someone doesn’t like sales or even the word sales makes ’em uncomfortable and makes them start to kind of cringe or think I’m not a salesperson or I can never do that ’cause I hate sales. Well, then maybe peeling that back, my guess is a high percentage of the time is probably because they’ve had a bad experience when they were the prospective client and, and, and they were working with a salesperson or the owner of a particular business that they thought about engaging for maybe some services that the shop needed. And that person was just overly ambitious or aggressive or trying to push, and instead of asking questions and being helpful, it was all about his or her numbers or their sales quota or whatever. And that came across as being really uncomfortable, maybe abrasive, whatever the word you wanna put in there.


It just felt yucky. And so then maybe that kind of s sets the expectation or definition of what quote-unquote sales is like. And so when they’re told or where they know that they need to maybe lead biz dev or they’re the best person in the shop to do the selling, it feels like, yeah, there’s no way that I want to do that. I’m awful at sales because they could never imagine themselves doing something like that. And that’s great because that is not selling; that’s like coercion manipulation, and it feels gross. And that’s what we certainly do not teach. But, my thought is, is that maybe they’ve been sort of the prospect in a bad sales process, and so they, of course, don’t wanna do that to their prospects.


Yeah, I think that’s absolutely accurate. Um, and I know that’s true for me as well because before I was involved with predictive, the thought of sales or being a salesperson, quote-unquote, like that was not appealing to me at all because I have been on the receiving end of so many bad, you know, sales experiences. So when I think of, you know, sales or salesperson, I have this like negative connotation that comes into my brain of, you know, being pushy or, um, being rude. Not listening to my feedback because we’ve all had, you know, the experience where we’re like, no, thank you. And someone comes back, and either they’re rude, or they’re pushy, or they don’t listen to you any, they try to push that boundary. And, um, so for me, I think that’s absolutely true with what you just said. And I would imagine that’s true for a lot of people that, you know, are so emphatic about, I hate sales, I could never do sales. So, I think you’re touching on something really well. So now that we’ve talked about what kind of comes to mind when people hate sales, how would you describe the sales process and how we do it differently?


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Putting Others First in the Sales Process


Differently? I think it’s something that Drew and I felt was really important to include in the front end of our books and sell With Authority. And that is the 10 truths of what truly makes someone an authority and, essentially, gives them the permission to sell. This means you need to stand in front of your audience or, maybe, you don’t have an audience yet. You need to stand there and teach and share and be generous. You need to focus on your areas of expertise; there’s one area of expertise as opposed to 16 things that you’re trying to straddle. Right. And give it all away without any expectation of return and do it over and over and over and over again. And, so that when you do get them the opportunity, the at-bat, then your audience knows that you’re about them winning.


Best sales closing techniques — It’s not about you putting, uh, some sort of number on a, a score sheet or a quota or something like that. You are all about their success. And if that’s true, and then that’s genuine, and that’s really how you feel, and it’s not some sort of skeezy game that you’re playing, then that authenticity will come through in all of your content. How you show up for meetings, how you’re not pushy, how you’re only trying to be helpful, how you’re focused on their business issues and challenges and not your own. And so when you do it that way, that is a great process. That is what we believe to our core here at Predictive, and that’s how we teach it.


Yes, I love that because when I became involved with predictive, obviously, it was very eye-opening for me. The way that we run a sales process is just so different than anything. I had experienced this prior. And I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said, you know, how can I help them succeed? Because I think that starting with the question that way, instead of, oh, I need to make these numbers, or I need to hit this quota, you really make it all about you. And that’s how you set yourself up for this kind of gross sales feeling. And I think if you start with the question, you know, how can I help this person succeed? Or how can I be helpful to them? Can I be helpful to them? I think that that’s such a much better place to start because that will make everything downstream easier. It’s more relational, it feels less like you’re going on a first date and then asking someone to marry you. So I love that.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: How Pushy Sales Tactics Can Backfire


Sales closing techniques? Well, let’s think about it from our own experience. I certainly will not mention the company name, but you, Megan, and Eric, so the four of us represent the leadership team here at Predictive ROI. And the other day, we were working with a prospective vendor. We thought about licensing what they do, uh, inside predictive because we thought it might be helpful for us and so forth. And then we walked out of that conversation. So I had that conversation with the four leaders of predictive with this company, and the four of us walked outta that going, ah, something just doesn’t feel right. And I’m like, okay, well, I’m gonna trust your intuition. And also how they answered our questions and so forth. Those are good data points. And so I loop back to that particular company, I said, you know what?


Just not ready yet. We’re gonna have some have, uh, some additional questions and that kind of stuff, just not ready yet. We’re going to pause this for a little while. We’ve got a few things to do internally here, and then maybe we’ll be ready to pick up the conversation again in a couple of months. So Hannah knows this ’cause she saw the email, got a pushy email back, and I’m like, okay. And so then my reply was kind of a litmus test of I re-explained and reshared my motivation for sending the previous email. And then we got dropped like a bag of dirt, you know, we didn’t even get a reply after that one. And then it just really made my fellow leaders here say, feel like, well, see, our intuition was right. And how do you argue with that? Right, Hannah?


Yeah, absolutely. And it’s almost like, you know, at that point, you lose credibility, you lose trust, and you also lose any hope for future engagement at all. So you’re, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot three, three different times. By losing, losing trust, and then, you know, losing out on future opportunities. And the way that they handled that is so common, I think, because a lot of us have had experiences with companies or organizations that do sales in exactly that way or, or go through sales in exactly that way, and it doesn’t feel awesome and it makes us not want to engage with them further.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Overcoming Sales Anxiety


100%. And you know, through that process, it felt like sort of violating the law of nature, the law of nature. Like the, here, here in the upper Midwest agriculture, dairy, very big industries right there, there’s not a, there’s not a corn farmer on the planet or somebody who’s planting soybeans who thinks that I’m gonna do a harvest in July. Nope. You know, you gotta wait for the field to dry out in April, gonna fertilize the field, gonna plant the field, or till the field gonna plant the field, gonna water the field, gonna nurture the field, gonna weed the field, all of that stuff. And then maybe if you’ve done your months and months and months of tireless work, then you’re gonna have a decent harvest in September, early October, but it’s gonna take months. That’s the law of the harvest. The sales process is very similar, right? But it’s so disappointing when you come in contact with a salesperson who wants to get right to the sewing and wants to reap the harvest before they’ve actually planted and done the hard work that it takes to get there.


Why sales closing techniques are effective in modern business. And one of the things that, you know, I have learned from you guys is that sales are very relational. Mm-Hmm. And, you know, just like the law of nature where you have to go through the steps, and you have to put in the hard work, um, you know, people are relational creatures, and you have to put in the hard work, and you have to do the nurturing, and you have to do, you know, you have to be patient, and you have to be caring, you have to be helpful, all of those things. And I think that one of the things that this company that we’re referring to missed was the relational aspect. And you know, they just, they, you know, to your point, they tried to, to reap the harvest without sowing the field.


Awesome. So, what are some of the other things that you’re hearing in feedback regarding this topic?


So, I think we’ve touched on kind of what happens when someone rushes in too quickly to sales. So we’ve talked about how that makes us feel and how it violates a lot of nature, and it just doesn’t feel great when someone’s super pushy and headstrong about it. I kind of wanna go 180 degrees in the opposite direction because a lot of people that we work with, um, they’re actually scared of sales. So instead of rushing in head first, they kind of hide in the corner, they don’t wanna do it. And, um, so, you know, we talked about how that could be because they’ve had these bad experiences with these super pushy salesmen and things along those lines. But what are some pieces of advice you would give when people are actually scared of sales, so they hide from them?


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Building Client Trust


So I’m gonna answer your question in two parts. The first part is, let me set that up with a story, and I’m gonna pull that nugget out of the book that Drew and I wrote. And this is his story. I think he told it masterfully in the book. And it’s essentially the metaphor or analogy, if you will, of, um, the deer and, and how, you know, let’s say that you, you know, at your, at your piece of property, at your house, you have this beautiful deck that overlooks, you know, this beautiful backyard that kind of butts up against sort of a wooded area. And, you know, there are deer in the woods, and, for whatever reason, you think it would just be awesome if you could someday have deer eating out of your yard and maybe at some point eating out of the palm of your hand.


Sales closing techniques? And so Drew goes on to tell the story about how it’s an incremental process of building trust and setting food out and not, not harassing the deer and, and respecting their privacy and their, and their want to be alone and all of that. And eventually, you build enough trust to where the deer actually come into your yard, get closer to your deck, and maybe even eat out your hand. And then he says, but, you know, we as agency owners and consultants, the where we make a mistake is we see the deer step into our yard, and all of a sudden we run after the deer, and then, of course, they run away and maybe never ever come back. And so because of that, let’s flip that perspective. They’re the prospective client is the deer, and they run away. But what if you’re afraid of the deer?


Exactly. What if you’re afraid of the deer?


So, reverse the role. What if you’re afraid of the deer? And so my suggestion would be, would be to take a page out of the Beatles story. And so you may already be familiar with, excuse me, familiar with what they, uh, you know, lovingly refer to as the hum crucible. And so in the early days of the Beatles, I mean, they were struggling kind of, uh, you know, they had just graduated high school, they were struggling. The band couldn’t really find their sound in all of that. And their sort of initial agent at the time, if I’m telling the story correctly, their initial agent at the time said, I gotta get this band. I gotta get, you know, these, these struggling artists. I gotta get them on stage, and I gotta get ’em on stage a lot.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: The Path to Sales Confidence


So he actually took them from the UK, took them to Germany, and over the course of about two and a half, maybe three years, they played 1200 shows. And some of those shows lasted eight hours. They played until 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, over and over and over and over again, 1200 shows. And so in reading some of that research, uh, I was surprised to hear that not only 1200, because obviously, that’s a lot, but then I was surprised to hear that some bands don’t play 1200 shows in their entire career. And the Beatles did it in two and a half years. And so afterward, you know, in interviews with some of the band members, John Lennon said the Hamburg Crucible is what made the Beatles, because they had to play so much in a compressed period, they hadn’t, there was nothing that they could do other than get better. So if you’re afraid of the deer, then find yourself a crucible, literally design a crucible find, and we’ll talk about this probably a little bit later, but practice sessions, get more at bats. Find people who you can pitch to, right? Whether that’s your team or friends or partners or prospects who will give you good feedback, clients who will give you good feedback, but you need to design a crucible so that when you’re on the other side of it, you realize, oh, actually sales isn’t too scary at all. When I’m just trying to be helpful.


I love that story. And anything that you do 1200 times, you have no choice but to become an expert. , you have no choice but to become proficient. I just think that’s a really powerful story. And you know, I try to think about when people are afraid of the deer and how they have just to put themselves out there. And Stephen, this morning you shared a wonderful YouTube clip where it was like, just do it. Like do the thing, just do the thing. And so I think that the first step is really just to do the thing. So let’s, um, let’s say that, you know, one of our listeners is scared of sales, and they’ve heard this message, and they’re like, okay, I’m gonna go do the thing. Let’s say they do the thing, and they absolutely blow it, and it goes terribly. It’s not the outcome they want. And I’m sure this happened with the Beatles, you know, during that time; I’m sure they had shows, and they had nights where they were like, man, that was just not it. So in your experience, when the sales call doesn’t go the way that they hope or doesn’t get them the outcome that they expect or that they want, how do they recover from that? How do you kind of lick your wounds and then get up and keep going? What goes into that?


 I think confidence comes from practice, and being able to be resilient comes from practice. And as you know, I love baseball, so I’ll tell a little baseball story, okay? So, Mickey Mantle, you know, widely regarded as a pretty decent player, one of the best players of all time, Hall of Famer, of course. But throughout his entire career, he struck out 1700 times. He walked, uh, 1800 times. So you put those together, that’s 3,500 plate appearances, right? And, and so the average, I shouldn’t say the average player, the average number of at bats that a player in the Major Leagues gets per season is about 500. Okay? So we’ve got 3,500 played appearances, walked or struck out, and he got about 500 at bats across, you know, his 18-year season, 500 at bats per season.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: The Power of Resilience in Sales


So, just doing some quick math, 3,500 divided by 500 equals seven. And so Mickey Mantle has famously said that in my 18-year career, I struck out 1800 times, walked 1700 times, and got 500 at-bats a season, which means I went for seven years without ever hitting the ball. One of the best players in baseball history went seven years without ever hitting a ball. Can you imagine if you’re a, if you’re trying to sell something that your agency’s doing, and every time you try to sell, you don’t sell a thing for seven years? How frustrating that must be? But the difference is, is that he got himself back up, dusted off his uniform, and confidently stood back in the box and was one of the greatest baseball players ever. So it literally is, yes, practice, design a crucible, and then you have to have the confidence to step back in the box. But one of the reasons why we fail sometimes, we’ll talk a little bit about this too, is ’cause we’re trying to sell too much, right? The offer isn’t concise enough. And we will refine that a little bit here in just a minute, but you gotta have the confidence to get back in the box to give yourself that next step.


I love that story, even though it was about baseball.


Well, you know what? A lot of fans were eating hot dogs while watching him do it.


I do love hot dogs at baseball games. That’s the best part for me. No, but that is an incredible story. And I think that that is, you know, the difference. You have to be willing to strike out, and you have to be willing to walk, and you have to understand that not everything is gonna be a home run. Not everything is gonna get you to first, second, or third base. It just is what it is. And you have to separate, you know, your confidence from, oh my gosh, I just blew this. And what I think separates, you know, the 80% from the top 20% is the willingness to keep swinging, to keep stepping to the plate, to keep going. And if you get to the wall and you let that wall hold you back, and you just say, oh, it’s, I’m just not good at this, or I’m, you know, not gonna try to get over my fears, you’re never gonna break through that barrier to sound great. You’re never gonna reach the Hall of Fame. You’re never gonna reach the top 20%. So, being afraid of failure is, is a constraint that will ultimately make you fail or make you less than what you could be, what you could do, or where you could take your business. So I love that story. Um,


Amen to that. Hang on a second. Before we move to another point, though. I want to toss this actually back to you because, because you were, you were, you were dipping into some, some really cool nuggets that you and I learned from Drew McClellan’s keynote from Build a Better Agency Summit, uh, 2023. You and I both studied it and watched it. It was amazing. So, add some additional context here about the 80%, the waterline, what lies above the waterline, but we gotta have the guts to push through the waterline.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Overcoming Fear and Reaching the Top 20%


Yeah, and that’s exactly it. Drew’s keynote was amazing, as always. And um, the part that really stuck out to me was, you know, he asked, are you gonna be in the 80% or are you gonna rise above to be in the top 20%? He talked about so many agency owners, you know, who hit that waterline, the 80%, and they don’t take the risk to go further. They don’t have the plan, or they don’t have the confidence. They have the fear of failure, and so that keeps them below the waterline. But if you can break through that, if you can put yourself out there, if you can practice and do it, and do it, and do it again, you will break above the waterline, and you will rise to be in that open-air space. You will reach the top 20%.


And so many people get to that barrier and they don’t push past it. You have to have; you have to be willing to do that if that’s a goal for your business. So, I got a lot from that keynote, and I thought that was a really powerful point. And obviously Drew explains it much better than I do. So, if you haven’t listened to his keynote, hopefully, you have access to it. But it, it was really eye-opening just to think, you know, do I wanna be part of the 80 or do I wanna be part of the 20? And am I willing to do what it takes to get there? Am I willing to take the risk? Am I willing to say, yes, I’m gonna do this, and if I fall on my face a few dozen times or a few hundred times, I’m gonna keep going, and I’m gonna get back up? I’m gonna step back into the box, and I’m gonna swing.


I love that. I really, really love that. Thanks for sharing that. ’cause you and I were talking about that in the green room, uh, and I’m like, oh gosh, that is such a good point, right? Because it’s really easy. It is really easy just to say, eh, I’m comfortable. Yep. And maybe the 80% is fine. But pushing past that, which of course takes some effort, that’s where all the great stuff is.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Finding Confidence Through Support and Practice


Yeah. And I think you have to be comfortable with the discomfort for a minute. You have to get very comfortable with the discomfort. And, um, you know, Stephen and I talked to you about this before, but I have a problem with public speaking. I don’t feel super confident when I’m teaching. It’s always been just something that, um, is, is a little bit panic-inducing for me. Um, but because I have, you know, a supportive team because I have you and Eric and Megan and the rest of our team that will give me constructive criticism and will, you know, give me support when I need it, and feedback when I need it, and when I don’t, it just makes it so much better. And it’s given me kind of permission to be comfortable with the discomfort. And I have noticed that the more that I do it, the less kind of fear I feel in the pit of my stomach.


And don’t get me wrong, I still still have plenty of panic when public speaking. But I think that it’s also important to have a team that supports you or finds people around you who can give you advice. Because, you know, a rising tide lifts all ships. So if you can have your rising tide, if you can have people like Drew or you know, Stephen or Eric or Megan, if you can have those amazing people in your life that, that really lift you up and help pull you above the waterline or push you above it, that’s, that’s really important too.


Amen, Sister. Having the support system, and also, as you just said, you’ve had the courage to do it over and over and over again. Each time gets a little bit easier. Uh, your support system’s there to to, to either catch you or provide guardrails or criticism like you just said, to help you be better. And also, you know that your support system is all about you winning, right? And all about you getting better and so forth, not to be critical to help you get better. Right?


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: The Power of Specialization


And I think I wanna take a minute just to challenge our listeners, um, to write down two or three people that they have in their lives that can be that support system. So if you’re struggling with sales, or if you’re not getting the numbers you want, if you’re not closing the deals, you wanna close, take a second here and write down two or three people that you can pitch to or you can talk to and say, Hey, can you offer me feedback on this? Can you tell me where you think I’m hitting the mark, where I’m missing the mark, or how I can be better? And just take a moment to list the people that come to mind. And that would be probably a good place to start.


Yeah. In your support system, your support system should be people who will look you in the eye and say, I love you. And what you’re saying to yourself right now is completely nonsense. And I just had a conversation, uh, a few weeks ago. I was at dinner with a friend and, and, and she was talking about how, you know, I don’t know about this and I don’t know about that, and should I be there and this and that. And I said you have absolutely every right to be there. You deserve to be there. You’ve earned that spot. But she was telling herself, you know, you mentioned, I think we were talking about imposter syndrome a little bit ago, and it’s so, it’s so crazy. Like, if we spoke to other people the way that we speak to ourselves, holy bananas, we would have no friends, right? So sometimes your support system is somebody who you trust enough to that they will put their arm around you and say, you’re good enough, you deserve to be there. You’re smart. What you have to share is helpful. You need to stop talking to yourself that way because it’s wrong. What you’re saying to yourself is not only irrelevant, it’s made up, and there’s no basis of fact. Get out there and do a great job because you’re going to be incredibly helpful.


Yes. And I think that that kind of ties into the next thing that I wanna touch on is having something that’s helpful. So one of the struggles that we also see or hear a lot from our clients, um, is that they’re trying to sell too many things. So it kind of makes them not confident in selling one thing because they have like kind of this spread of things they could be selling, and they’re not really sure how to talk about it, or they’re not really sure which one’s, right. So what advice would you give basically to kind of narrow that or pick what you’re good at?


I will answer the question, I promise, but I’m gonna throw you a curve ball for just a second. Share what Mark said last night, Mark Levy. Okay. One of our clients and what he shared last night in the teach and do that you were doing that you were leading our group through. Tell that story.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Simplify to Amplify


So, Mark Levy is a differentiation expert. He is in our audience, and he’s always just amazing. He’s a rockstar. Um, and so we were talking a little bit about this kind of topic last night on the teach and do; Mark’s a professional public, and he said, you know, pros have one speech, amateurs have seven. And I thought that was so powerful because when you are an expert and when you’re confident in what you’re selling and what you’re talking about, you don’t have to have seven different variations and 14 different ways of talking about it. And what Mark said was very clear, and again, its pros have one speech, and amateurs have seven. So if you have seven speeches, or if you have seven products or services and seven ways of talking about them, or seven variations or iterations of the same thing, it would probably be wise to whittle that down and figure out what’s really important in that, and then take that and then leave the rest.


Okay. I promise I will answer the question, but of course, there’s gotta be another baseball story, right? Uh, so, and regrettably, it’s another Yankee story. I hate the Yankees. Sorry, everyone, if you happen to be a Yankees fan, but anyway, frame up this like, oh, there was a hot dog, and it was really good. Okay, we’ll start the story off on a go.


So this, this one’s about, Mariano Rivera, and even though I’m not a Yankees fan, I absolutely have super high respect for what he did on the field. Um, and he was a closer, uh, the closing pitcher for the Yankees for, for many years. Um, and so I was doing a little bit of research on him, um, and I was curious as to how many pitches, like types of pitches, he threw. Okay. I knew it would be few because one of the things about closers and what makes a closer dominant to come in on the ninth inning or at the ninth inning, typically in a sticky wicket type situation, to essentially save the game, is they just absolutely overpower whoever they’re facing in the box. And the way that they do that is by specializing, not by throwing, you know, a curve ball, a fastball, a four-seam, a split-finger, a cutter, a slider, you know, a knuckleball.


They don’t do all of those things. Typically, they throw two, maybe three pitches, and Mariano Rivera had two pitches, a cut, fastball, uh, and then I think it was a split-finger fastball was his second, but he wasn’t known for that. He was known for the cut fastball. He threw it 86% of the time. So the batters in the box knew what he was going to throw. 86% of the time, he is gonna throw them a cut fastball. They knew what to expect, they knew it was coming, they could see it coming, and yet they couldn’t hit it because he threw it with such, uh, velocity and such specialization and such expertise that it was like, unlike anyone else’s cut fastball that they had faced. And he was dominant because he invested himself in mastering the cut fastball. So, back to Mark’s story, one speech versus seven, I think that we should focus on the sales process instead of the suite of services that we offer: we do this, and we do that, and we do this and that.


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Sales Closing Techniques: Shifting the Sales Focus


We’re an integrated full-service marketing agency. We do PR media. Instead of that, focus on the problem that you solve with excellence for your clients and prospective clients. Focus on one thing, focus on one thing that you solve, right? You know, if you can focus on that, the problem that you can be really helpful on, and then later in the conversation about how you do it, fine. But in the sales process, where you should be focused on business issues and challenges and not your strategy and tactics, focus on one problem. And if you can do that, you really simplify. It’s like Mariano Rivera stepping onto the mound, cutting a fastball at predictive. What does predictive do? Oh, we help our clients sell more of what they do. Oh, it’s simple, right?


Yep. And I think it’s important here to note, too, that clarity trumps persuasion. So, like, if you’re clear about what you do, it doesn’t have to be this fancy, wordsmith, designed, you know, 80-slide deck thing. Like, you just, just be clear and to your point, be helpful. Help like focus on the business challenge, focus on the problem. And that kind of leads me to our next point here is that I think a lot of, um, people that either rush in the sales or are scared of sales, uh, they make the mistake of thinking that the sales process is about them. And so whether that’s, whether you’re afraid of it, you’re still making it about you, whether you’re rushing into it because you need to meet a quota or you have a goal or whatever, you’re still making it about you. And I think that what I’ve learned from predictive and the way that we go about our sales program and process is that it’s absolutely not about us at all. So can you speak to that and how can our listeners reshape their mindset to be about who they’re talking to and not think, oh my gosh, the sales process is about me, so I’m either gonna not do it well, or I’m afraid, or I’m rushing into it.


Well, okay, so let’s let me take you back to January when we were in Florida. We were attending the AMI or Agency Management Institute workshop, and Mercer Island was leading the conversation for two days. The amazing Robin Bowler, Steve Bowler, and Lindsay were there.


So, like, I just am such a fan of them.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: A New Approach to Sales


Well, they’re incredible, right? And so they’re, there’s a room full of agencies, and Robin’s standing there in front of them, and she’s like, it’s not about you. I will tell you, because they sit at the table, they see the agencies pitching, right? And they’re the brands have hired them to run the agency search. She’s like, I will tell you that the creative, it all looks the same, right? It’s the strategy, not the execution, but the strategy. They’re gonna change the creative anyway once they hire you. It’s the insight. And the only way that you get to the insight is by thinking about their business issues and challenges. They could care less that you wanna do this TV spot or that radio campaign, or you wanna do blah, blah, blah. They don’t care. What they care about is whether they are smart. Do you understand their business?


And did you understand the business issues and challenges? And then, do you have an insight about how best to solve it? That’s what they care about. And, I love seeing her in action when she’s like, it’s about the business issue and challenge and like light bulbs, right? Yes. Going off on everybody’s or above everybody’s heads, It’s about the RFP format. No, it’s not about the RFP; it’s about what makes you smart and what insight helps you solve that business issue and challenge. Nothing else matters, right?


Yeah, absolutely. A hundred percent, and Robin and her whole team are just incredible. And it was true, the light bulbs going off above people’s heads, it was, you could visibly see them being like, oh, that should be really clear, but it’s something we’ve missed out on. So, um, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re struggling with your close rate, or if you’ve kind of been ghosted after sending a proposal or people aren’t following up or making decisions, I would encourage you to look at your proposal and make sure that you’re tying your tactics to their business outcomes and challenges. That is some of the advice that Robin gave us in the workshop. And it’s really true because you know it’s not about you, it’s about them. If people are hiring you, it’s because they need help. They need to overcome a challenge.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Focus on Their Outcomes


They are seeking an outcome. So if you keep that at the forefront of your proposal and say, Hey, we have these capabilities, but it’s not just about listing senior capabilities, it’s about listing your capabilities in a way that relates to and drives them towards the outcome that they want to see. And if you do that, your close rate will improve. And, again, we hear this all the time: my close rate’s only 30%. Like if you want to get your close rate to 50, to 80 to 90%, if you relate your tactics and your capabilities to their business outcomes, and you articulate that clearly and concisely, chances are pretty good, you’re gonna close the sale.


You know, it’s interesting, you, uh, said it that way because as you’re, so we were talking about Mark Levy, uh, a few minutes ago, but what you just said reminded me of Mark Stober. We have a lot of marks in our life. And so I’m not speaking, I’m not speaking out of turn. Uh, this is an email that Mark sent to us, and then we posted in our Facebook group, shared it with our community, um, and it was when he was celebrating a win that he had received, uh, based on the advice that Hannah and Eric had shared with him. So Mark had a proposal, uh, to a prospective client, and he said, Hey, Eric and Hannah, can you guys help me make this a little bit better? And dah, dah, dah, dah. And, so Hannah shared Hannah, and Eric shared the advice that she just shared with you, and that was gotta focus on business issues and outcomes. What are the business issues and how what you deliver is going to result in the outcomes? And he is like, great. So he revised, you know, his proposal based on the advice that they had shared with him, uh, submitted the proposal, $35,000 prospective client said yes in less than 24 hours. And he is like, game changer, something so simple, but I was completely overlooking. And now he’d made the revision, and yay for that happy client. And, of course, happy agency.


Yeah, and that’s just that story. But he also told us that he used that technique on another proposal piece.


And he also closed that one too, and that was for quite a bit more money. So it was awesome because when you keep your clients’ or prospects’ needs in mind and operate from that mindset, your close rate is going to improve, and your sales are going to increase. So we’ve seen it happen. It’s, we’ve seen it real time over and over again. So again, if you’re struggling with your close rate or if you’ve been ghosted after sending a proposal, just review your proposal and make sure that it’s firing to the outcomes that your prospect wants.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Securing Conceptual Agreements in Sales


Hundred percent. Okay. So, let’s take a pause in the action. We’re gonna take a quick break, and then when we come back, put this into kind of some action steps. What are some of the key takeaways that you should take outta this conversation and put into your sales process right away? So we’re gonna do that in just a minute. We’ll be right back. Hey again, everybody. So before we dive into the three things, um, you know, Hannah and I were using a term before the break, uh, that we should probably define, and that term is, uh, conceptual agreement. So first, I’m gonna kick that to Hannah, uh, and get her perspective on it. And then I might add a couple of things to it as well. And then, we’ll go into the three things that we think you ought to take out of this episode and put into practice right away. So, Hannah, when you are, when you and Eric are standing in front of clients and offering your insights and so forth about the sales process and, and improvements and, and all of that, and, um, so how do you introduce conceptual agreement?


Yes. So this is a big thing you can do, again, to make sure that your close rate is increasing or improving. Um, but yes, this idea of conceptual agreement, a lot of times our clients will ask us, you know, when do I talk about the price? When do I mention the cost of, you know, x, y, z product or service? And we are big fans, such as being absolutely transparent. So if you are, you know, about to put a proposal in front of somebody, you’re already going to mention the price or the cost. Getting conceptual agreement before you put time and effort into that proposal can be a really good litmus test to see if it’s worth the time, energy, and resources. So if you’re feeling like, oh, I don’t really wanna talk about the price or the cost, you kind of have to push past that discomfort because if, if they’re gonna say no, they’re gonna say no.


So it’s just kind of when they say no, it’s is if you’re talking to them and saying, okay, like we think that this, you know, product can help you achieve this outcome. And, you know, here’s the tactics that we’re gonna do. Whatever stage of that, that kind of last conversation you’re in before the proposal, you do need to be upfront and be transparent and say, this is how we think we can be helpful. Here’s the price, does that work for you? And they’re either gonna say yes or no, or well, I need to talk with my team about it, et cetera, et cetera. But until you get the, you know, conceptual agreement to say, yes, I would like to see a proposal, please send me one, it saves you some time and energy and resources, so you’re not just putting out proposals into the ether and then potentially ghosted or, you know, getting kind of negotiated down or whatever. So this idea of conceptual agreement and just being upfront and honest with the price, um, can really save you some time and energy because, again, if they’re gonna say no, they’re gonna say no. It’s either gonna be now or later. So it’s either a waste of your time or it’s not.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: Effective Sales Strategies


Huh? So hear hearing that reminded me of early on in my sales career when I was running biz dev for an agency, a a peer of mine. And she and I were comparing numbers, uh, one day. And I looked at my numbers, and I only provided a proposal 30% of the time, like with leads and prospective clients only 30% of the time. But, uh, my proposals were accepted 80% of the time. And I remember her saying to me, well, yeah, you’re only putting 30% out there. And her numbers were exactly the opposite. So she put a proposal out 80% of the time, and only 30% of them were accepted. And I’m like, well, of course I’m biased, but I’m like, well, I like my numbers better, right? Like, I don’t want to give someone a proposal unless sort of like, uh, Gordon Gecko said back in the 1985 version of Wall Street, and he said, I bet on sure things.


And so, conceptual agreement, then I asked somebody else on the sales team. I asked when would be the best time to find out if the client was not interested. And my colleague said, I don’t know, you know, maybe after you’ve had the proposal and you’re kind of going through and that kinda stuff, maybe that, and I’m like, how about like right away? How about like on the first phone call? Yes. He’s like, what? So I think that, and the reason why I’m so glad that you’re going through conceptual agreement here is because I think that, and now I’m not talking about big RFPs where agency, you’re pitching a huge brand and you’re investing hundreds of hours. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the normal, everyday sort of client relationship for small to midsize agencies. And I think that by having the courage to actually go through the timeline, the deliverables, the pricing, the team, all of that, having a conversation about it before a proposal’s ever written about their goals, the business issues, and challenges, talk about everything and then say, okay, so let me make sure that I understand.


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Sales Closing Techniques: Streamlining Your Sales Process for Success


If we address all of these issues and we know what the budget is, and if we’re in line with the budget, when would you like to start the project? Assuming that our proposal addresses everything that you wanna address. And, then that person, if you’ve had an open and honest, transparent conversation throughout the entire relationship, that person will say, great. If, when I review the proposal, it’s aligned with what we’ve talked about, then I could see us starting, you know, on the seventh, the week of the 17th. Awesome. Now, the proposal is a foregone conclusion. It is a formality. It is. And, by the way, we don’t write proposals here at Predictive. We provide agreements because the proposal sounds persuasive. Mm-Hmm. , it’s like expecting the proposal to close the sale, which it doesn’t. It’s the relationship. To Hannah’s point earlier, it’s the relationship that closes the sale. And if you feel like you’re closing yuck, heck no. Right? So we provide agreements, and the agreement is like, yep, that’s exactly what you promised. Great. We’re gonna start the week of the 17th. Right? So, having a conceptual agreement before you write a proposal saves you a ton of time.


Absolutely. For our listeners, I want you to imagine what it would be like if you got an 80% acceptance rate on your agreements or proposals. Just imagine what that would do for your business.


Yeah. It can be an absolute game changer in terms of efficiency and all of that.


Yes. I’m going to ask you because I like to make things practical and tactical. Yes. So, um, out of this conversation, you have shared some amazing nuggets and stories. It’s been very inspiring. And I just wanna ask, what are three things that listeners can do today to start improving their sales process?


Could watching more baseball be one of them?


No, something that they’re actually gonna do?


Okay. So the first thing is I would go back to when you and I were talking about the simplification. I don’t know who said this, but you know, uh, the, the quote is essentially this simplicity scales, but complexity kills. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that. And I think it speaks to the quote or the story that you shared regarding Mark Levy, right? You can’t build a speaking business around seven speeches, and the pros know that they’re just gonna be great at one. And so, again, distill it down. Take Robin Bowler’s advice and distill it down into the business issues and challenges. And the narrower you can go, ’cause you can’t solve 10, the narrower you can go, like predictive. We help our clients sell more of what they do. The more narrow you can go with that, the better off you will be.


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Sales Closing Techniques: 3 Steps to Sales Success:


So point number one, or the thing that I would love for you to take out of this is to go narrow. ’cause that’s where the gold is. So that’s the first thing. Second is, once you’ve gone narrow, then design and put yourself in the crucible. So, pull the page right out of the Beatle’s history. Create your own crucible and start pitching and talking. And first with your team, then with your extended support system. Then find some prospects who might be willing to give you an at-bat and good feedback because they’re not a client, but you know ’em pretty well, right? So you know that they’re gonna give you some feedback. Then talk to some clients who are like, Hey, we’re thinking about offering something new. Would really greatly appreciate for you to kind of kick the tires on this, right? And then start working with prospects who don’t know you, and you’re gonna get their unvarnished feedback, right?


And, put yourself through The Crucible. So I know that, in July, we’re gonna have about 40 meetings with prospective clients. And I know that I’m putting myself through the Crucible on something new that we’ve been working on. Awesome. And I know that I need that experience and I’ve done it every single time that we’ve launched something new over the last 13 years. And every single time, it is valuable. And every single time in call one, two, and three, I fall on my face, and I get back up, and I dust myself off, and I’m like, well, next batter up. And, and then eventually I make contact, and then eventually I hit a single, then eventually it’s a double, and then eventually, you know, maybe it’s a home run. So, design yourself a crucible. And as weird as it says or sounds, enjoy the process ’cause that’s how you get better, just like the Beatles did.


The third would be knowing, just like Mickey Mantle, that you need to step into the box confidently every single time. And sometimes you’re gonna strike out, sometimes you’re gonna strike out in glorious fashion. Sometimes fans are gonna be like, was he even looking at the ball? Or how in the world did she swing at that? That was so obvious. Everyone in the stadium knew that that was completely unhittable, and yet she swung anyway. So some, some of the strikeouts are gonna be crash and burn down in flames and all of that. Or sometimes you’re gonna get hit by the pitch. It’s gonna, you know, knock you right and take your breath away. It’s gonna be so painful. And then you jog yourself to first, and then the next time, you stand confidently in the box. So part of what the crucibles gonna teach you is like how to sell it, like how to best really dial in what you’re talking about. And then point number three is confidently stepping into the box over and over and over again. Then, you realize that every single time you do it, it gets easier. So going back to what Hannah was talking about, about the 80% and the 20% above the waterline, you’re gonna bust through the waterline. You’re like, oh wow, this rare air is actually pretty awesome to breathe. And you get to that point by standing in the box. So that’s what I would suggest.


Learn more about sales closing techniques by tuning in to our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Closing Techniques: How to Apply What You’ve Learned


I think those are amazing, and I hope that our listeners will start to do that, whether they feel proficient at sales or whether they feel like they need a little bit of work. I think this was fantastic advice, And I am grateful for your expertise around this because, again, we’ve been hearing this a lot. So, for all of our listeners, I hope that this was helpful. If you guys have any questions, um, feel free to reach out to me. You can reach me at [email protected], or you can find me in our Facebook group. So, that is the way to get in touch if you have any questions or comments about this episode. And Stephen, do you wanna share how to get in touch with you?


Yeah, so everyone, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back to the golden nuggets that Hannah shared or the golden nuggets that I shared, the key thing is to really take it and apply it, right? Take and apply in the rinse and repeat over and over whatever metaphor analogy you want to use. But put it into practice because when you do, that’s how you get past the waterline and into the 20%. Um, if you wanna reach me, you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me in our Facebook group, too. My email address is just Stephen, so [email protected]. And Hannah, I special thank you. Um, you know, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. Uh, and I’m grateful for every single time that we get to have this conversation every single time that you step in, in front of our audience and teach and share, uh, generously your smarts. So thank you very much for saying yes again, to be on the show, to be our mentoring guide, and to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend.


Thank you for having me. I can’t wait for episode six—or, I guess, my episode six next time.

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