One thing that I see some people struggle with, and others succeed at, is the ability to turn opportunities and proposals into closed deals.
Whether you are in sponsorship, fundraising, or any other sales role, it is vital to have a method which helps you to close opportunities. For me, this is the key difference between those who are and those who are not closing sponsorship deals.
I have been lucky enough, over the course of my career, to work out an approach which works for me and which has recently been refined by a trusted mentor. It involves a popular sporting analogy and plays to my strengths and personality.
My firm belief, in developing your sales method, is that it needs to be natural to you. It must feel comfortable and you need to like how it feels so that you can continue to draw upon it as needed.
In my method, I rely on a few key personality traits that I possess or have acquired, including:
- strong relationship skills;
- a dogged determination;
- thick skin; and
- listening & learning.
There are hundreds of other personality types out there and, luckily, there are also hundreds of sales techniques. That’s why knowing yourself is the biggest consideration to be aware of before you find the right technique for you.
My method is called The Top 8. I use this because, in an Australian sporting context, the question is asked: “Who is in the 8?”. That’s because, in some codes in Australia, those in the top 8 are the teams who will make the finals/playoffs.
For me, in fundraising and sponsorship sales, this has always worked. It helps to identify the best opportunities, focus on them, and strategically move them in a direction towards an imminent close.
How Does it work?
The top 8 are the 8 deals that I think I could close within the next month, or near period of time, that works for my organisation. If I don’t think I can close them in the next period, then they don’t make the top 8. My challenge is to work out a way of getting 8 hot leads into my top 8 and then up the stakes in terms of closing.
If someone comes out of the top 8, i.e. I ascertain that they are not actually in a position to close soon, they say “No”, or, better still, they say “Yes”, then we look at the pipeline and work to promote another opportunity which has been cultivated in a more passive manner into the top 8.
The reason I choose this method is:
- It helps me to focus on results and always moving opportunities forward;
- Strategically, it forces conversations with potential prospects so I can understand how to move them forward and work with them in doing so;
- It keeps my focus on still filling the pipeline above so that there is always someone available to come into the 8; and
- It balances my sales life between prospecting, strategy, and closing.
Is it only for sponsorship?
No. It is useful for any sales professional looking to get more structure into their role.
The flexibility is there to change your top 8 daily (perhaps in a membership or smaller value sales role) or over longer periods (when selling higher value assets to a more targeted group). Or, you might make yours a top 6 or top 10. Whatever works for you and your organisation in the context of budgets and KPIs.
What has the success been?
Since I started using this method, over a relatively short period of five years, I have, directly or indirectly, assisted and helped drive AU$55m in product sales, philanthropic fundraising and sponsorship.
I credit the success to the consistency that a method like this allows me to have which is in balance with my personality traits, skills, and compliments my ability to close.
As I mentioned earlier, there are heaps of different ways people focus and motivate themselves in sales roles. I would love to hear how you focus and motivate yourself in your role and I am sure other readers would as well. So, please share!
After all, who doesn’t want to be in the top 8? It’s the only way you can win the competition!
Mark Thompson // Managing Director
Mark specializes in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
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