Take the Contract with You
I learned something very interesting this week. Thankfully, what I learned was really at no one's expense. What I learned is that when you are on a sales call and you believe there is a possibility (even a remote one) that you may close, always take your contract or letter of agreement with you! This does not apply if your contracts are so complex that it takes a team of attorneys to sort through it. If, however, your contract or letter of agreement is one or two pages long? take it with you.
The above rule is something I've known for a long time. I have to admit I haven't always followed it. Many times I've met with prospects and sometimes, being lazy and having forgotten to bring along the letter of agreement, I would tell them that I would email or snail mail or fax the agreement later. Invariably it would take a long time to come back with a signature.
Two weeks ago I had a meeting with the President of a Speakers Bureau. He was eager to represent me and I am always looking for new opportunity. This Bureau has good credentials and they represent good speakers. I liked Mike, the President of the company, with whom I would be working. It's an absolute win-win, no-risk opportunity for me. Speakers Bureaus only get paid when they book speaking engagements. No engagements-no fee.
Had Mike had his letter of agreement with him I would have read it and, if there were no issues, signed it on the spot. He did not, however, have the agreement with him, but he promised to email it to me later on. A few days later he did. I printed it out. I put it in a folder. That was three weeks ago.
It's not that I don't want to work with Mike-I do. I simply have not yet had a chance to read over the letter of agreement. I'm busy. I'll get to it eventually. I do want to do it-it's simply not my most pressing concern.
This made me think. How much time have I wasted by waiting to send my letter of agreement? How much time have I wasted waiting for those signed letters of agreement? How much time have you wasted? We should never forget that while waiting? the prospect's situation could change along with the opportunity!
When you are in front of your prospect, you are the most pressing concern-at that moment in time. You cannot sustain that position over time, because other things come along to grab your prospect's attention. Get the contract signed while you are there, in front of your prospect, the prospect's most immediate, pressing concern.
If you find that you must send the contract at a later date, because the contract is complex, or must be reviewed or it must be written or rewritten, set up a time to meet again with that prospect. This might feel like more work; it's actually insurance.
Always have your calendar or palm pilot with you and easily available. When you agree to send your letter of agreement, part of your conversation must be about how and when you will deliver it. Once you have established the time frame for delivery, take out your calendar and say, "Let's pencil in a time for me to come by with it and we'll have a chance to talk as well." Keeping in mind the parameters and time frame that you just discussed offer some choices, "Is early next week good for your or is later in the week better?" This way you are having a conversation about when you will meet not if you will meet! I also like the word "pencil". It implies that the time can be erased or changed, so the prospect does not feel trapped.
Control the sales process from start to finish. Don't do a terrific job of selling yourself, selling your company, selling your product or service only to have to wait by the mailbox tapping your toes and checking your watch.
© 2004 Wendy Weiss