December 18, 2023
OOH Sales Blog

Close the Sale or Close the File

In the spirit of the season, treat yourself to a valuable gift this Christmas – the knowledge of when to gracefully "close the file" on a prospect.   We like to have a very full, robust pipeline of prospects.  It makes us feel good about ourselves and the job we are doing.  Maybe more importantly, it makes the boss feel good about the job we are doing.  Often a significant issue with OOH salespeople is that at times our prospect pipeline can be more hopeful than realistic and we can’t even bring ourselves to admit it!

For years, I found myself tirelessly following up, inundating prospects with emails and voicemails, and crafting extensive proposals, spec art ideas, only to be met with an ambiguous "I'll think it over" response. If you've encountered statements like, "I need to talk with my people first" or "Call me in about a month," or “I need to think about it” then read on to discover the art of determining when to persist and when to gracefully step away.

Selling OOH often involves navigating through various forms of postponement and delay. Relentlessly pursuing a prospect might seem commendable but often proves to be a flawed strategy. This inclination, known as "Escalation of Commitment," is a human behavior pattern we all grapple with from time to time.
Why is this strategy flawed? Because responses like these are essentially a polite way of saying "No." Whether it's today or 30 days from now, a "no" remains a "no." Settling for such responses allows your pursuit instinct to override logical thinking.

When faced with a 'no' in any form, the initial step is to ask a question. For instance, "I may be missing something here, but could you share why you prefer to postpone rather than decide on the next steps now?"

If a prospect evades a straightforward answer or provides a clear "no" response, it signals a lack of willingness to invest further. In such cases, it's likely time to close the file. Your next steps will determine whether you descend into the sales limbo of hope, a state we aptly call being addicted to "Hopium." In this state, positive outcomes are elusive, regardless of your efforts.

However, not every request for postponement equals a definite "no." There are instances, such as during a company crisis, where agreeing to a postponement makes sense. In such cases, establish some ground rules:

• Ensure realistic compatibility of OOH advertising with your prospect.
• Agree on a specific timeline. Pin down the date and time for your next meeting.
• Avoid settling for non-committal words like "probably" or "maybe" – these lack sincerity and hinder sales progress.

If the conversation adheres to these rules, agreeing to a postponement is reasonable. Anything less risks falling into the sales limbo of hope, wasting time and energy instead of effectively closing sales.  It’s best to back away gracefully and look to find another more suitable prospect.

This holiday season, gift yourself the commitment to break free from the cycle of delusional prospect pipelines. Take the next step in your professional growth as an OOH salesperson by deciding to either "Close the Sale or Close the File."

Need help with sales skills or coaching to take your out of home company to the next level.  Learn more about OOH Sales Mastery at  or Contact Dan Nausley at, 423.702.5579.  

Lisa & Dan Nausley of Sandler Chattanooga have developed the OOH Sales Mastery Program after more than a decade of training/coaching scores of OOH Operators across the country in sales, leadership, and executive coaching.

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