Always Be… Opening

Our CEO recently posted about Always Be Closing, where he points out a great example of being ready to close at any moment. Sales is nothing that I ever planned on doing, but at one time in my career I found myself having to put on that hat and learn. And learn fast, because forecasts had been made and revenue had to be generated.

The sales I was doing, of software development and projects, I also had to project-manage. Lucky for me, when I landed in sales, there were already some deals in the pipeline, and some signed deals that I had to manage to delivery. All (did I just say, “All?”) I had to do was “be closing.” Fast-forward several months and I had closed a couple of deals and delivered a couple of projects. Now what?

It’s a terrible feeling when you come to update your revenue forecasts and there is NOTHING to forecast. I had been so wrapped up in closing things off, I hadn’t been opening.

No one ever says, “Always be opening.” Maybe because “ABC” seems much more clever than “ABO.” Maybe because success is only attached to closing a deal. Or maybe it’s that opening seems easy: someone calls and says, “I need a widget.” And you just have to close that deal. Sure, there are times that happens, but you need to always be listening to your customers closely for any comment that could turn into another deal. You might hear of something that doesn’t really relate to an existing deal. You don’t have to jump into that at that moment, but should write that down as something to follow up on at a later date. At that later date, you can then apply “Always be closing.” You can only close a percentage of the deals you open, so to always be closing, you need a large number of deals.

While I was in school, I had a professor who once stopped his planned lecture to explain to us that he had an epiphany as to the true meaning of, “Opportunity only knocks once.” His (very common) interpretation of that particular phrase is that Mr. Opportunity will only ever come to your door once and knock on it. The real lesson is that Mr. Opportunity will come to you door many times, but when he does, he will only knock one single knock. You can’t think, “Was that a knock at the door?” and wait for a second knock, you gotta get up and open that door. That is what you have to be listening for when talking to your customers — the single knock that comes amid all of the noise of closing a deal.