How To Close Deals Fast
Written by Dave Lorenzo on July 25, 2016 / Archived Podcasts / Closing
How To Close Deals Fast
Hey there Workplace Warriors. It’s Dave Lorenzo and this is, The 60 Second Sale Show. I’m the guy who helps you close more deals, fast, and today I’m going to remind you that we’re in the business of building relationships. When we build relationships we close deals, and we do it quickly. Now, being fast is often times more important than being best. I know that’s shocking, so I’m going to say it again. Being fast is more important than being best. In fact, I’ve made a career, a great career, out of being faster than everybody else. Back in 1999, I was the Vice President and General Manager of ExecuStay, that was Marriott’s corporate housing brand, and I worked in New York City. There is no faster place on earth than New York City. Corporate housing at that time, especially in New York City, was an extremely competitive business.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, corporate housing is really like an extended stay apartment, if you will. In fact, in New York, these were actual apartments that I would go out and sublease for Marriott from either condominium owners or from large developers, and then my team and I would furnish them, we would turn on all the utilities, the cable. At that time they had land line telephones. We’d set all that up, and then executives would move into them for 30 days or longer. Now, Marriott had just gotten into this business. In fact, I was the pioneer of this business for them in New York City and this period of time in New York real estate was crazy. Apartments were flying out of realtors’ inventory, developers would finish putting up the walls in a building and while the paint was drying, they would sell out the entire building.
They’d rent the entire building full of apartments overnight. This made it really tough for my team and it made it really tough for me to close deals because we could never get enough inventory, we could never get enough apartments. We had nothing to sell. This was actually good news. We took those lemons and we made fantastic lemonade because it meant that my competitors couldn’t get any inventory either. I realized that if I could solve this problem, solve the problem of demand in the market, I would have a huge competitive advantage. I used my sales skills to tackle this problem. There were a few publications that developers would use to announce projects they were developing. They would do this with the hope of attracting people to lease their new building quickly.
What I did was I hired a publicist and I instructed that publicist to go out and connect me with these developers. I wanted to know which buildings were being developed and which buildings would be ready quickly. At 2:30pm, one April afternoon, I remember it like it was yesterday, this is in 1999 now, I found out a developer was ready to lease up a building on the West Side of Manhattan. The building was due to open in July of that year. Once my publicist let me know that this developer was going to go out with a big campaign to announce this building, I went to his office that afternoon. I went with my check book and I wrote a hundred thousand dollar check as a deposit for the entire building. He cancelled the publication of the story, didn’t have to do any marketing at all for his building. I was able to lease up the 80 apartments in that building and my sales team was outstanding.
We filled it before the ink was even dry on that lease. Now, I used this strategy several times over the next two years and I dominated the market. We were able to obtain a 70% market share, 70% market share of the corporate housing business in New York City, in 1999, 2000 and early 2001. We were able to do that because I was better than my competitors, well, maybe I was better than my competitors. Was I smarter than my competitors? Yeah, maybe I was a little smarter than my competitors, but was I faster than my competitors, was speed my competitive advantage? You bet. Speed enabled me to obtain an unheard of, unheard of 70% market share in the corporate housing business, in New York City. This led me to be named one of Crain’s 40 Under 40. Crain’s New York Business, is a publication in New York City. I was one of Crain’s 40 Business Leaders to Watch Under the age of 40 in 2001.
It’s because I was able to dominate the corporate housing industry, all because I was fast. That was it, speed allowed me to do that, speed allowed my company to make a lot of money, speed was responsible for my success. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “That’s great, Dave, but what if I make a mistake because I acted too fast? What if I rush into something and it turns out not to be the best decision?” Now, I used to think that, too. That’s my confession to you. I used to think that, too. “What if I act too quickly? What if I act in haste and I blow it?” Well, something changed my mind on that. Something really helped me understand the competitive advantage that speed gives me. My team and I were working on a proposal for a consulting engagement with a large credit union and we thought we were the only consulting company invited to present to them.
The buyer let it slip, at one point, that there were other people who were in the running, and you know what, this actually made me angry. Had I known this I would have taken a different approach. I would have expressed my absolute displeasure with the fact that they were going out to bid. I would have told them that I wanted to present last and I wanted a yes or a no answer. I might not have even wanted to present at all, because quite frankly, I knew we were the best solution for him. Well, when I expressed this to the buyer he said, “Well, you know, I don’t know what to tell you. What can we do to make it right?” I said, “Here’s what I’d like. I’d like to go last and I’d like you to give me a yes or no answer before I leave the room.” I heard him let out a big sigh and he said, “Well, you know, you’re already scheduled to go first, but I’m sure we can give you a yes or no before you leave the room.”
Here’s what I’m thinking now, I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, God, I got to go first, we have to present, and then everybody else is going to get a chance to build on what we’ve presented.” I said to him, “All right, well, you’re going to give us feedback, right? We’ll present, you’ll give us a yes or a no, and then you’ll give us feedback?” He said, “Absolutely, we’ll definitely give you feedback, we’ll give you a yes or a no,” and we went on and we did it. We presented first and we waited for their answer. We waited outside while they deliberated for about 25, 30 minutes. We walked back in and we got a no. I said, “Let me have the feedback.” They gave us the feedback. At this point I felt really foolish because we had jumped in really quickly, we had gone first, and I felt absolutely foolish. My team, I felt like I had let my team down.
I felt dumb, no, actually I felt angry. I really actually felt like I had been completely and totally deceived. In fact, it felt like I had been stripped naked on the 50 yard line of a football field and there were 75,000 people just laughing hysterically at me. I looked over at the buyer, I looked at the committee, and I was dejected and disgusted. I said, “Look, you got to give me a chance to come back tomorrow. You got to give us a chance to present to you with the feedback you’ve given us. We need an opportunity to come back and take another shot at this. That’s the least you can do after you’ve deceived us in this process.” The buyer was kind of flustered and the committee kind of … There was a murmur in the room. I persisted and they agreed. They said, “Okay, fine. Here’s what we’ll do. Tomorrow, after the second group presents, you come back and you can take another shot at this.”
I said, “All right, and you’re going to give us a yes or a no, and if you tell us no, you’re going to give us feedback, right?” They said, “Yeah, same deal as today, but look, that’s it. You come back tomorrow and you present, and that’s it.” I said, “Fine.” My team and I went back, we got a hotel room, we went back to the hotel, we worked on the proposal all night. The next day we came back after the second group presented and we presented again. We go outside the room, again, these folks deliberated, and again, the answer was no. Now, at this point, I knew that we were the best people for them. I knew we could help them the most, I knew we could provide them with the most value. I knew that if I could just get the finer points of the deal right, and I could tell that the second time we had gone back we had another two or three members of this seven member committee that we had won over, we just didn’t have all of them yet.
I knew that if we had gotten this just right, we would have the opportunity to get this business and it would be great for the client. I just felt that in my bones. They gave us their feedback and I said, “Come on now. You know we’re the best people for this project. I know that you’ve said no to us twice, just give us one more chance. You got to let us come back the last time. You know we’re the best for this, you know we want to deliver the most value. You’re obviously not happy with the other people who presented today, otherwise you wouldn’t have even let us in this room. Give us one more chance to get this right.” They were absolutely outraged. Some people on the committee were going crazy that I would ask for this third opportunity, but they said, “Give us a chance to talk it over.” We stepped outside the room again.
Five minutes later the buyer came out and he said, “Look, we’re going to give you one more shot. Come back tomorrow, this is it. You’re not coming back after this. If you don’t get it right this time, that’s the end.” On the third day, I walked into the room and I said, “Here’s the bottom line. You know and I know that we’re absolutely, positively the right team, I think we’re all in agreement. There are some finer points in this deal that you’re not happy with. Why don’t we do this, you present to me, each one of you, the things you want to see in this deal, and then I will give you a yes or a no and let you know whether we can do all those things?” I looked at the two other members of the team that were with me presenting, they had no idea I was going to do this. We had actually worked on an entire presentation the night before. I looked at the committee and, to my surprise, our buyer actually went first.
He gave me a laundry list of things that he wanted to see in the deal. Six or seven of them, we hadn’t included to this point. About half of those we had put in our presentation, the presentation that we prepared the night before. Once the buyer presented those things, I looked at the members of my team and I said, “We can agree to all of those things. In fact, we prepared a presentation that has those things in them, we’ll be happy to show it to you. Let me open the floor up for discussion from other members of the committee.” Two or three other people gave me their ideas, their thoughts. Most of them were very easy for us to accommodate, a couple of them were a bit of a stretch. We agreed to do it and that was it, the deal was done. Now, how did this convince me that speed was important? Well, we presented first, and because we presented first, we were able to gauge the interest and the elements of the deal.
We were able to gauge the interest of the buyer, we were able to put a finer point on the items included in the deal, and then we were able to come back and correct ourselves, correct the offer, so that we could actually get the deal closed. Think about it, the value of speed is that even if you’re wrong and you’re quick, you can take corrective action just in time to save the day. You, my friends, you need to increase the speed in your sales process. You have to be faster than everyone else, because speed is a huge competitive advantage. Now, here’s how you do that. The first thing you need to do, in order to increase the speed in your sales process, is you need to be super organized. You have to be absolutely, positively organized and ready to go at a moment’s notice, and this includes organizing yourself mentally.
You need to know your strengths. You must know what you’re good at and you must know what you should not focus on when it comes to your sales process. You also need to know your competition and you need to know the market. Know where your competition is weak and know how you can take advantage of those weaknesses. Then, you have to know the market and the industry. You have to be able to determine where the industry is going and you have to get there first. Remember, even if you’re wrong, when you make recommendations to your client, you have the ability to correct your course because you were first, you were fastest, you were there with the answers when they needed them. In fact, if you can anticipate people’s needs and be there before they know what they need, you will have a huge competitive advantage. Just like I did in corporate housing in the late 1990’s, you will dominate the market.
The next things you need to do is, you always need to be confident. You must always be confident. We talk about the ABC’s, of sales. If you’ve seen the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross, they talk about the ABC’s, right? Their ABC process is always be closing. Well, I agree with that, but my ABC process is always be confident. That’s my ABC rule. I follow the philosophy of the thirtieth Treasury Secretary of the United States. Her name was Ivy Baker Priest, and she was only the second woman to hold this position. Her philosophy was that she was often wrong but never in doubt. If you’re always confident, that confidence will come through. If you’re fast and you’re confident, you’ll be able dominate your market. You’ve got to feel great about your ability to help the client. You’ve got to be confident in your ability to help the client.
If you are and you walk in with that confidence, the speed and the confidence are a powerful combination. It’s like a one, two, punch. It’s a left cross and an uppercut. The minute you apply those two things to your sales process, you will dominate your market. Finally, you have to have discipline. When you want something, you have to focus on doing everything necessary to get it. Lay out the steps in the process and follow them to the letter. With this discipline comes the ability to be nimble and turn on a dime. Speed is a huge competitive advantage and it only requires that you have the courage to focus on it, the confidence to be able to deliver, and the discipline to follow your approach. Now, it’s time for us to open up our big old mail bag and see what you, our listeners, want to hear more about.
Today, we’re reading an e-mail from a guy by the name of Marco, out there in San Dimas, California. Marco, thanks for your e-mail. Marco writes, “Dave, I often hear you talk about doing things quickly. You talk about using quickness as a competitive advantage. Well, my boss has to sign off on all of our proposals and he takes forever to approve these things. How can I use speed as a competitive advantage, if my boss is holding me back?” Wow, well, Marco, that’s a great question. The first thing you should do, and this is something that you may have already done, but I’m going to tell you to do it anyway, you’ve got to go in to your boss and you go to ask him to trust you. They hired you for a reason, you’re there to close deals. You’re a salesperson, that’s what you do. You got to ask your boss, “Listen, I’d like you to reconsider your policy of approving all these deals and I’d like you to trust me.”
Now, there’s a chance your boss won’t agree to that. If he doesn’t, you should beg for forgiveness and not ask for permission. Here’s why I say that, your job is to close deals, so if you go out and you write proposals, and you’re doing presentations, and you’re getting to the clients quickly, you’ll end up probably closing more deals than not, but the deals you don’t close, you never have to tell your boss about because you didn’t close the deal, you didn’t commit the company to anything, so what’s the problem? There is none. The deals you do close, that’s what you’re there for. Nobody gets fired for closing too many deals. While you may receive some friction, there may be some friction in your relationship with your boss, you’ll still be bringing in business.
Now, here’s the critical point, Marco. If you make your boss look good while you’re closing these deals, you guys will be happy as clams. You guys will be able to work together, hand-in-hand, and at that point, you can go to him and say, “Boss, can you trust me? I just brought in three deals worth X dollars and I made you look good in the process. That’s my mission, that’s my purpose. I’m here to make you look good and I do that by using speed as my competitive advantage.” Always allow your boss to take credit for the sales victories, and if you do, you will help him look good, and he will feel great about your relationship, and that will lead to trust. You’re going to have to go out on a limb, but it’s so important that speed is a competitive advantage for you. I want you to take this chance and I want you to do that.
First, ask for the trust up front. If you don’t receive it, then it’s always better to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission. All right, thanks very much Marco for your question. Thanks to all of you for listening. That’s our show for today. This is, The 60 Second Sale Show, I’m Dave Lorenzo. Until next time, here’s hoping you make a great living and live a great life.
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