One of the biggest challenges in sales and business development can be inspiring urgency to get a deal done. Just because someone perceives value in your offering, doesn’t mean they’ll make it a priority. There are a number of tactics I’ve used to push deals through the finish line. Though most of these have been in the context of API partnerships, these strategies can be effective in many situations.
A bunch of great advice for startups that are just getting around to BD and what they should do and what they should not do.
Here are a few tactics I’ve used to reinvigorate a cold conversation.
When trying to get a deal done, we seek internal champions. To an arms dealer, no champion is more important to an arms dealer than the people that are paying them for a product or service. They’re the lifeblood of their business. Thus, if you’re able to convince even just a few clients that they need your offering or to lobby for it, that could be your ticket to that mega partnership. If nothing else, you can rest assured you’re on their radar.
In the sales/deal funnel, ambiguity can be a very comfortable position. It always feels better to know you still have a chance to close than getting out right rejected. But you need to be honest with yourself about why this ambiguity exists. Is it because you’re being patient, respectful, or waiting for a strategic event? Or is it because you’re preserving your ego and/or afraid to stray from your comfort zone. If you’re in the latter camp, you’re not taking all the ground you could be.
I HATE LOSING. I hate it. I really, really, really hate it. It chaps my hide. It rips at my core. I don’t get over it easily. I lose sleep. I fucking hate losing. It’s not so much the actual outcome that I hate – it’s the process. The fact that I lost when I should have won. I think about it for months, often years. But I embrace losing. It is how I learn. I relive the moment so many times over in my mind wondering if I could have done this differently or if I shouldn’t have said or done this or that. I talk to trusted sources about it. I ask for feedback. I hate losing. I don’t want to lose next time.
You all know this intuitively. But on a scale of ABC (always be closing) there is a wide degree of urgency that entrepreneurs show. As as I’ve said before, I believe that getting things done is one of the major things that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from just reasonable ones. This is a reminder for all entrepreneurs to remember to be careful about “deal drift.”
Take your time and build trust step by step. It helps if you can use your relationship network to check the other party out. If that is not possible, take a small risk before you take a big one. See if those on the other side reliably reciprocate in some little matter that requires their performance based on trust. If they pass the test, you have a track record on which to base your next move.
There are many techniques but all involve proving that the customer will have more benefit by acting now (lose weight before Summer!), will have more pain if they don’t act (your customers are abandoning your shopping cart) or that they’re behind the competitor. Can you express your proposition to customers in terms of a compelling event? If so, I suspect your sales will grow more quickly.
You’re goal is to get to the finish line as quickly as you can. So when you’ve been told that you’ve won make sure that you keep your sales campaign up. In fact, ramp up your efforts. Go into overdrive to get the contract completed. Continue to meet with senior executives at the buying organization. Don’t take anything for granted. And make sure you spend as much time with your enemies as you do with your friends.
Everybody talks about leverage in negotiations but very few people know what it means.