Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Closing The Deal

Very seldom is there a group of people that can come up with with a true consensus on a given topic. Philosophies vary greatly among those in a given profession. But, if you were to put a group of sales managers and/or trainers in one room and ask them what's the secret to a successful sales career, you'd hear one consistent answer: You have to close the deal.

Once, many years ago, I was a salesman for a subsidiary of a huge mega-corporation. The man that hired me led me to believe that just the name of my company (and the corporation that owned it) would be enough to get me in the door and likely would be enough to make the sale. In some respects he was right, but not completely. It was work, and work is never guaranteed. There was much to be done.

Everyone I talked to, knew the company and the corporation and there were very few that didn't. But the real test was, convincing them they needed what this company had to offer. The "#1 in its industry" corporation owned a company that was not #1, in its. My job was to do my part to get the company to #2. I was able to get it to #3 in certain areas, but the hours were ungodly.

Name brand recognition wasn't going to get it done, but first, I had to convince the customer that it could be done. I had to work long hours to take care of the people that were already doing well with the company and still find time to expand the customer base, in order to realize the vast marketing potential that could have been achieved.

Despite being a a fairly well known name owned by an even bigger name, it was a tough sell. I had to persevere through a of rejection. But, there were some real successes.

In politics, it's no different.

In reality, a president is a salesman. And when I think back to some of the presidential campaigns of yesteryear that have occurred in my lifetime, I see some defining moments where the winning candidate closed the deal and made the sale with the American people.

Being a household name, who could forget Reagan's moment in 1980? America was in a funk and here comes this actor saying he wants to be President. Capitalizing on discontent and a malaise that had been brought on by four years of ineffective and incompetent leadership, Mr. Reagan seized a moment during his last debate. After all of the specifics were both hashed and argued out, he made one final plea to the American people, as to why they should buy what he was selling.

He looked into the camera and said something to the effect of:

If you think that you are better off now than you were four years ago, then, Mr. Carter is who you should vote for. But if you think we can do better, then you should vote for me.

Right there, he closed the deal. He made the sale. And subsequently he won the election in a landslide.

Not such a well known name, Bill Clinton had his deal closing defining moment too. In his case, it wasn't what he said but what he did. Going up against an incumbent that was perceived as being out of touch with common people, he did something that candidates of years gone by, would never have dreamed of doing. He played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall's show. Granted it had little to do with policy, hope, or vision. But it demonstrated to a younger generation that he was more like them, than the incumbent president. He went on to win a lot of the younger demographics and I truly believe that it was at this point in time, where he sealed the deal.

I could cite more examples, but here's the point I want to make in all of this:

Hillary Clinton (the subsidiary) has made some grave mistakes. She assumed that the name brand recognition would carry her through to the nomination. She also has been under the delusion that Bill Clinton (the mega-corporation) would be able to close the deal. Before the tide was rolling, she took much for granted and did not take into account the need to close the deal, based on the same principle with something as simple as making a sale. She never expanded her base, she never convinced people that she was an agent of change (which is what people, particularly the Democrats and independents, are clamoring for). She, like the company and corporation I worked for, sorely miscalculated the importance of closing the sale.

You see, the company I worked for did just that and it failed, for that reason. It was subsequently sold off in increments to various other parties, by the corporation. And, it is no more. But lucky for me, I saw it coming and bailed after I had made some good money, and before the break-up. It worked out good for me, as some of the money was used to go back to school and seek a different profession. The rest was used to pay off my attorney bills I had been forced to accrue, in the midst of a tough divorce.


7 comments:

Rocket said...

Hi LA

Is there some kind of law in the USA about naming names of companies 20 years after one has worked for them. I didn't understand why you kept referring to your former company rather than naming it.

Was it a mafia affiliated group or what?

Anyway, Greg is a lawyer. I'm sure he'll do a pro bono if you have legal problems.

Obob said...

name recognition is everything. So are slogans. I still like Huck's in Iowa about being the guy you work with not for. Hokey, but it worked.
And as for politics, it does come down to the people liking you. In 2000, Al Gore should have won. But he ran an bad campaign and GW offered change. Maybe it was the bad taste of Clinton in the voters mouth (that originally was not meant o taken as it will) but Gore should have won even with Nader taking votes in Florida.

LASunsett said...

Rocket,

The names of the company and the corporation were not meant to be the main theme of the post. But realizing the hell you must be suffering from your Redskins' early exit from the playoffs and now the intense curiosity generated from my post, I will attempt to ease some of your suffering. ;)

Here they are:

Company: Eagle Snacks

Corporation: Anheuser-Busch

There you have it. I cannot get the Skins back into the playoffs, but I can do my part to satisfy some of the aching mystery that was part of my post.

LASunsett said...

Obob,

//Maybe it was the bad taste of Clinton in the voters mouth (that originally was not meant o taken as it will) but Gore should have won even with Nader taking votes in Florida.//

It was called Clinton fatigue.

Greg said...

She assumed that the name brand recognition would carry her through to the nomination. She also has been under the delusion that Bill Clinton (the mega-corporation) would be able to close the deal. Before the tide was rolling, she took much for granted and did not take into account the need to close the deal, based on the same principle with something as simple as making a sale. She never expanded her base, she never convinced people that she was an agent of change (which is what people, particularly the Democrats and independents, are clamoring for). She, like the company and corporation I worked for, sorely miscalculated the importance of closing the sale.

Okay, but what about crying? Will crying work? Hehehe.

In all seriousness, as I want McCain to win, I would prefer Hillary as a candidate, with her high "negatives." Obama is too well liked and could beat my candidate.

Greg said...

Anyway, Greg is a lawyer. I'm sure he'll do a pro bono if you have legal problems.

Uh, I ain't signin' on to fight Anheuser-Bush and its lawyers. Certainly not pro bono! :)

LASunsett said...

//Okay, but what about crying? Will crying work? Hehehe.//

There's no crying in baseball or presidential politics. Just ask Edmund Muskie.