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Always Be Closing

Selling an animation show concept is not the same as selling an insurance policy - or is it?



It’s as simple as ABC… or is it?

ABC or ‘Always Be Closing’ was a memorable line spoken by Alex Baldwin in David Mamet'swonderful film "Glengarry Glen Ross".  It is also still the first chapter and verse in many a salesperson’s bible and is used as the guiding rule when pitching used cars, life insurance, junk bonds, physic readings, aluminum siding and Ginzu knifes

While I will not deny the power of the ABC admonition, I think we have to be careful not allow it to be our only consideration.  The pool of buyers out there for our services or products (intellectual properties) is severely limited in comparison to the guy in the boiler room placing hundreds of calls a day from supplied leads.  That guy doesn’t care if he annoys you or disrupts your dinner because if you hang up on him he just moves on to the next number on his never-ending list of potential buyers.

We unfortunately we do not have a never-ending list of potential buyers. There are 5 or 6 broadcast networks (depending on how you count) and about a baker’s dozen cable networks that makeup the television animation landscape.  These numbers are fluid but for the sake of the point I’m trying to make here, let’s not quibble.

Moving on, let’s stay fluid and estimate that each network, including cable, has 2 or3 entry door development people and 1 or 2 acquisition people (domestic and international).  The development folks are likely split up into categories such as Pre-school, 4-7 Boys and girls and 7-12 Action boys.  Again, not carved in stone but it’s accurate enough to illustrate my point, which is:  Unless your Uncle Ted owns a network or you are a zillionaire, these 40-60 people for the moment, hold all the power within this specific universe you want to join.   Bear in mind that even if you get past these gatekeepers you will still face another layer of Network Nabobs to get onboard.

But going back to that first group of 40-60, you need to be careful.  It might be impossible to piss them all off at the same time but you may want to consider how the ABC prescription, if followed to the letter, could close a number of doors and ruin some good relationships.

My cautionary tale is this – Don’t push so hard that the door you want so badly to open is closed and locked against future business.  You may make a pitch that is well received but the property won’t fit into their slate for any number of reasons.  If the answer is no then the answer is no.  Don’t continue trying to sell someone something they can’t buy.  

Your first and foremost goal is to place your property but if that doesn’t happen, be sure to come away with something positive – and at the least that is to have made a strong presentation professionally delivered and the believe that the person you pitched to was left with a good opinion of you and your creative judgment.

Building good relationships and trust with development executives is a goal within itself.  People tend to move around and properties that are turned down can come back to life as people change hats and desks – ABC is fine at times but don’t overdo it….