10 Tips to Closing the Deal
By Suzanne Lyons
1) CREATING A STRONG RELATIONSHIP: The first stage is always relationship. Creating a rapport between you and the buyer. It puts them at ease and creates a bond or common ground. It also creates an affinity between you and them that has them want to move forward with you. When things get stuck in the dialogue, it is usually because there isn't sufficient relationship.
2) HOW TO CREATE THAT RELATIONSHIP: I always start with research. Find out about them in advance. The more you know about them and their company, the easier it will be to create rapport. If you can, use referrals to get to them. Acknowledge them; genuine and informed acknowledgment is so important. Ask about them - their needs, concerns, goals and commitments. And share who you are and why you're meeting with them.
3) HEAT (aka: PASSION / EXCITEMENT): Create an excitement that's contagious. You want the buyer to be lit up and excited by your vision and/or what you're offering. They'll get excited when what you're saying touches them, solves a problem and/or fits in with their needs and desires.
4) HOW TO GET THEM EXCITED: Share your vision, passion and enthusiasm. What turns you on about what you're offering and why? As I noted, your energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Also, speak to what it is that they want. Tailor what you say to their specific situation. Remember, it's about targeting and satisfying their needs. Be clear and concise in describing what you're offering and if there is a personal connection to what you're offering, let them know.
5) EXCITEMENT DOESN'T LAST LONG: I think this is the biggest problem for all of us. It's not so much because we don't know how to deal with flagging enthusiasm, I believe it's more that we don't know that we even need to. But just because the buyer seems so thrilled in the room doesn't mean they will remember what you talked about (or who you are) a week later. You have to continually create heat by adding logs to the fire. Your job is to keep the excitement alive.
6) GET THE FACTS AND THE DETAILS: As I just mentioned, most of us think it's enough for the buyer to get excited in the room. We so often leave the room in 'hope.' But this isn't enough. There may be additional hurdles that have to be crossed before the deal can close. It's important to find out what they are and address them. What else needs to happen to move the deal to completion?
7) MOVING THE ACTION FORWARD: Find out all the things that must happen to move the action forward... Who else needs to be on board? What is the decision making process? Who else should you meet? Are other people being considered? What is their timetable? Is the money in the bank? What's the best stragegy for making this happen? Also, make sure they have all the key information about what you are offering. How will it work? When are you available? What will it cost? What will you (or they) charge? How will you (or they) be paid?
8) GET YOUR HANDS AROUND THE REALITY: Get the hard facts that you and they are dealing with. For example, what has not yet been disclosed? Are there any further concerns? Find out and address them. Are there any further obstacles to be overcome? If so, in the spirit of partnership, discuss how best to overcome them. Ask a lot of questions and leave no stone unturned. Find out who has to say "yes" to the deal and what you can do to get them on board.
9) REQUESTS AND PROMISES - THE KEY TO COMMITTED ACTION: Requests: For example, I request you do X by Y time. It is important that you get committed speaking from them, instead of lip service or good intentions which is so often the norm in the entertainment industry. You have to generate this and if they accept your request, you must manage it. For example, follow up with a phone call. Promises: For example, I promise to do X by Y time. Be sure you are committed to what you promise and do what you say you will. If you promise to follow up at a specific time, do it, or the entire deal may be jeopardized. Be creative with using promises to move the action forward. For example, "How about I write the first act for you on spec and deliver it by the end of the month. If you like it, you hire me, if not, there's no obligation."
10) DRAW THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION: Once you agree to who's going to do what by when, establish how you will communicate with each other to follow up. Will you call them in two weeks to see if they've read your business plan and want to invest in your film? Will you meet again in one week? This establishes accountability. It's best if you keep control of the process by assigning yourself responsibility for initiating the follow up communication.
NOTE: I realize that this "10 Tip Series" may be a bit hard to handle. In our industry as creative people we seldom make these types of requests, hardly ever put the ball in our court or keep the power in our hands. Yet, it's the difference between getting the role, or not... the job, or not... the deal, or not. It's a muscle we have to learn to flex and we have to get great at it.
BONUS: Something else to try when closing the deal, is creating some urgency. Especially in this town, when a script or reel can sit on someone's desk forever. Find a way to create urgency. It works!
About Suzanne Lyons: Co-Founder of Snowfall Films, Inc., Windchill Films, Inc. the Flash Forward Institute, and an LPA Mentor, Suzanne Lyons has over 25 years experience in television and film.