There’s no purpose in proposing to rent some land to build a billboard, or put together that great artwork for that potential advertiser, unless you actually close the deal and get a signed contract. But closing deals is not a class in high school or college and most people don’t know how to get the job done. So here are some helpful hints to help you be a successful deal closer.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the signature – and here’s an easy way to do it
The first step to closing is to ask the individual to sign your agreement. I have always found the most successful way to do this is to make it a natural progression of the discussion. For example, on a billboard ground lease you’d say “I’m going to go down and file for the permit on Monday, so all you have to do is to sign here and we’ll get this going”. Or it might be “with Memorial Day coming up, I think we need to get the permit application in before city hall closes for the week”. On signing the billboard advertising contract, you might try “now what would you want on the artwork?” while you pass the contract to them. Don’t make it a stressful moment of terror for both parties in which you hand them the agreement and there’s this awkward moment – take the stress off with making it seem like the natural flow of events.
Make it easy to sign
I have always preferred to use a yellow highlighter to show where the person is to sign. There’s nothing more awkward than handing somebody an agreement and then them searching to find where they sign. It also invites them to read it and suddenly say “wait a minute… now what does this paragraph mean?”. It only takes two seconds to highlight their signature block and it might be the difference between winning and losing.
Already have a standard answer to the typical questions
Every agreement has the same repetitive questions asked by the person who is supposed to sign it. Memorize your answers in advance so they flow naturally and quickly. On a ground lease, the typical questions are “how much do I get”, “how long is the lease”, “can I terminate it if I sell the land”, etc. ON the advertising lease it’s “how much is it a month”, “how long is the lease”, “when does it start”, “can I cancel it if I’m unhappy”, etc.
Send positive body language and signals
If you act awkward when you hand them the agreement to sign, that will send them a signal that you have never done this before or you’re putting them in a trap. Practice the art of handing someone the agreement. You simple hand it to them across the table, smoothly pulling it out of a manilla envelope or file folder. Don’t act scared or you will telegraph that emotion and potentially blow the deal.
Be ready to go through the agreement in detail
You need to know every paragraph of your agreement in detail. Such questions as “so what happens if the lights go out” or “what is this deal on when the rent starts” should already be 100% answered in your mind. If you say “hold on, let me think about that for a moment” you will signal to the person that you haven’t read the agreement yourself or that you are a total novice.
The most important feature of successful closings is to not think for yourself, but to think in terms of the landowner or advertiser. Imagine you’re their paid consultant and are trying to do what’s best for them. That confuses them because few people in life are win/win. An example would be your doctor who might say “I think that this medicine will really improve your life” – your pitch is basically the same “I think adding this billboard will really improve your income” (true for either the landowner or the advertiser).
Closing the deal is vital – there are many books written just on this topic. These tips will help get you started in the right direction. Remember that no deal is completed until it’s signed up.