The Advance Agreement: Take Control of the Sales Process


(By Pat Bryson) We call one of the most powerful sales techniques you can employ the “Advance Agreement.” Although it is not difficult to master, the Advance Agreement requires a strong salesperson to put it into practice. There are no “wimps” allowed here.

You should use this technique when you begin your needs analysis meeting with your client. You can also use it at the beginning of your presentation appointment. It allows you to take control of the meeting and to set the agenda for what will happen in the next hour or so.

If you are one of the brave few, you can add substantially to your closing results by using the Advance Agreement.

Begin with “thanks”: “Mr./Ms. Client, thank you for inviting me in today.”  Note the use of the word “inviting.”  It is important because you do not treat rudely those whom you invite into your home or place of business. You are setting the stage for a polite encounter with your client. 

Establish “time”: “Mr./Ms. Client, how much time do you see us spending together today?” You are establishing the time frame. If they say, “thirty minutes,” then make sure that you stop after thirty minutes to recheck their time. Even if you are not finished, make sure that it is OK with them to continue. If not, come back another time. If they permit you to go ahead, do so.

A good needs analysis appointment will take at least 30 minutes. I’ve had them go 90 minutes. If you are using the Advance Agreement in the presentation stage, make sure you have at least 45 minutes. You don’t want to get in the middle of your presentation and have your client need to leave.

Next, establish their agenda: “Mr./Ms. Client, what would you like to accomplish in our meeting today?” During the needs analysis, listen to what they have to say. Take notes. Either address their concerns during your time together that day or let them know that you will address them at a later time. Either way, you will learn what is important to your client.

Let them know your purpose: “Mr./Ms. Client, I’m sure you will have some questions for me, and I have some questions for you. By the end of our meeting today, we should have a good idea if we should continue to work together or not. I hope that we may continue, but if not, please tell me ‘No.’ I’m ok with ‘No.’” 

Why do we say this? Because some prospects feel it is rude to say, “No,” so they won’t. But they won’t say, “Yes,” either. We give them permission to end our involvement at the needs analysis meeting. Sometimes, YOU are the one who will end your involvement if you feel this business is not a good prospect for you. 

If you are using the Advance Agreement in the presentation phase, you will want to add these lines:

“Has anything changed substantially since we last spoke?”

If nothing has changed, the agreements and budget you set in the needs analysis meeting should still hold true.

Is there any reason you can’t make a “Yes” or “No” decision today?”

You have now taken control of the meeting. You have gotten rid of one of the most common stalls we hear (I want to think about it) before you even begin the presentation. 

Your greatest fear (if you have one): “Mr./Ms. Client, my greatest fear is…” Perhaps it is that they will not invest enough money to be successful in their advertising plan. Perhaps it is that they will feel your station doesn’t have enough listeners. Perhaps you think they may feel your rates are too high. Perhaps you know there has been a problem with this client in the past. Whatever it is, get it on the table early. You cannot answer hidden objections and like a splinter in your finger, they will continue to fester.

The Advance Agreement is a powerful technique that allows you to take control of the sales process. You may now guide your prospect through the steps of a sale. Those salespeople who have adopted this technique have seen increases in their closing ratios. Remember, sales excellence comes to those who execute the sales process well.

Pat Bryson is the CEO of Bryson Broadcasting International, a consulting firm that works with sales managers and salespeople to raise revenue. She is the author of two books, “A Road Map to Success in High-Dollar Broadcast Sales” and “Successful Broadcast Sales: Thriving in Change” available on her website. Read Pat’s Radio Ink archives here.


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