The Closer: How to Become the Go-To Person for Winning Results
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

On day two of the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, attendees listened intently as corporate leaders shared their insights on “How to Close the Deal: The Art of Execution.” On the panel were Suzanne Shank, president and CEO at Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., Edna Kane-Williams, vice president of multicultural markets at AARP, and Valerie Rainford, managing director at JPMorgan Chase.

Moderator Sharon S. Hall, partner at Spencer Stuart, talked with panelists about how women can position themselves to be the go-to closer who not only seals any deal but is able to diffuse crisis and exhibit notable value for their companies. The panel also talked about being on the other side of the deal, where someone is trying to convince you to partner with them for profitable success.

“You can’t get a seat at the table until you’re known for excellent work and are able to produce results,” said Rainford. Also, you can be known as someone who can get work done, but until someone serves as a sponsor or vouches for you in a time of crisis or when a major deal is on the table, you won’t be seen as the go-to closer.

“You have to look up and say, ‘Who are the people I can build a relationship with? Who’s the boss that’s on the move, and how can I work for them to show that I’m able to get the work done?'” Rainford added.

Finding ways you can fill a void, volunteering for opportunities that that are outside of your comfort zone, and avoiding being pegged as a complainer are also key in being the go-to closer. “It’s really, really hard work. Every business we’re in today is extremely competitive, and it’s really hard to distinguish yourself… You have to understand that there is a prize at the end of the tunnel, and that it will take hard work to get to it,” said Shank.

Having savvy with pitching and interacting with those you seek to conduct business with is important as well, Kane-Williams indicated. Professionals must build a reputation where their rapport shows they’ve done their due diligence and that they’re are offering value in a way that makes the other parties’ job that much easier.

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.