You have a huge deal, it’s the biggest one you’ve ever had, it’s huge for your company. You and your company may not have done many of these types of deals before. Or the complexity of the deal will require you to do some special things (no I’m not talking about pricing).
Inevitably, it’s complex, there are lots of twist and turns about the deal. You struggle to understand the buying team and engage with them. There’s tough competition.
Whatever the situation, it’s not a slam dunk. It’s not a standard situation where you can pitch your product, create a value proposition, and the customer will give you an order (do any of those exist?).
What do you do, how do you put together a strategy to win the deal?
I encounter these situations all the time, yet I’m amazed at how most sales people develop and execute a winning strategy. Too often, they treat it like any other deal, it’s just bigger. But they do the standard things they always do, crossing their fingers and hoping they’ll win.
Or they get some coaching from their manager, brainstorming ideas, arriving at an action plan. They may use their CRM’s messaging system to get some advice from peers around the world, “Have any of you dealt with a situation like this?”
Often, there’s no end to the advice, but it comes from many places at different times, and is difficult to assemble into a strategy that can be executed.
Big, complex deals are different. The strategies for going after these deals are different. The resources you need to successfully develop and execute the strategy are different.
The same old stuff, only more doesn’t work. You have to innovate, think differently about the strategy and how you execute it.
These are the deals where you want to apply the best brainpower, experience and ideas you can! These are the deals where you may want to leverage resources across the organization to help develop and execute the winning strategy.
I had the good fortune of spending my formative years in selling at IBM. At the time, I think we were masters of big deals. As sales people, we were taught to reach out to anyone in the corporation to help us win deals. There were specialists in each product and industry area that could bring knowledge, experience, and resources to bear. There were SWAT team who had been through similar situations before and could help guide you through the development of a winning deal strategy.
In these critical deals, we would “swarm them,” developing new ideas and new approaches. More often than not, we were successful.
It wasn’t the power of the brand or the products, and certainly not the pricing. It was the belief that complex deals required the best minds working together to develop and execute winning strategies. It became second nature for us to call on other to help strategize our toughest deals.
Those days are gone. People don’t seem to have those capabilities anymore, or they choose not to leverage them. I don’t know how many calls I get a month, with the sales person saying, “Dave, I’ve got the toughest deal I’ve ever encountered, what do I do?”
Too often, they are going it alone or nearly alone, rather than swarming it with the best thinking from within the company.
When I suggest they do this, the next question is, “Who do I involve, how do I enlist their support, what’s this about ‘swarming’ a deal?”
I guide them through the approach, for the really big one’s I go and help them develop and execute the strategies Some even have enough courage to turn me loose on their customers 😉
Many of the opportunities we face are very complex, they require a collaborative approach, leveraging specialized resources and support from within the company. But few companies have a well structured approach to swarming deals. They tend to invent a new approach each time.
There are structured methods and approaches that result in winning more often (though it is never easy).
One of the best I’ve seen is Tim Sanders’ Dealstorming.
As I read Dealstorming, I was reminded of the approaches I learned early at IBM and methods we’ve deployed in supporting our clients on some of their most complex deals.
There’s no magic or wishful thinking, just discipline, preparation, creative problem solving, and sharp execution.
Even if your deals aren’t that complex, if they require a teamed or collaborative approach to develop and implement a winning strategy, you’ll get great insights from Dealstorming.
Separately, the approaches in Dealstorming can be leveraged very effectively in helping sales people understand and overcome common/difficult roadblocks and stuck deals, they are very powerful in expanding into new markets or industries, they are fantastic in accelerating the results from product introductions. I’m not sure Tim intended the book to be used in that way, but we’ve leveraged many of the principles to help organizations succeed in these areas. I’ll write about these soon–but before I do, make sure you read Dealstorming.
Scott Woodhouse says
Interesting article and interesting approach. Some of us did not have the luxury of a support system, and that’s neither good or bad. Today I find it amazing how people quickly panic when a large strategic deal comes along. While in school, I remeber something we were taught. “Just don’t do something, stand there”. (My background is critical care medicine, and the idea is to always access the scene before you go in and possibly get yourself or one of your teammates killed). Probably good advice.
Large complex deals will not get done overnight. Don’t panic. Another thing we used to do with the students is create a scene where we would have a scene where we had a multiple car wreck, pedestrian struck, screaming kids, you name it. It was designed to confuse the students to remember the basics of ABC or Air Way, Breathing, Circulation. Go back to the berry basics you learn and start from there. Everything else comes together and falls into place.
Their are pro’s and cons to large teams and small teams and brain storming large strategic deals. I think Dave does a great job of pointing out how a large team can really work together and provide an excellent solution.
Because we were 1,000x’s smaller than IBM, we would have to use the assets of a small team. First, does the individual have the capacity to run a complex deal. In our case, we all had to or you got killed. We were #7 out of 6 at the time. Then we had to deploy certain strategies I still use to this very day. Paranoid Analysis. Everyday, every hour, I would review everything in the deal, who is on board, who isn’t, who am I going to get, who am I not, how do I neutralize. Based on the competitor, what were they going to do. Did they have a play book, if so, I knew what they were going to do, so I would not chase the rabbits. Etc. You get the point.
Complex deals are fun if you let them be. Feel the thrill of the deal. What ever your situation is, don’t panic, but remeber, if the train is speeding down the track and it doesn’t have your name on the side, you had better be prepared to derail it.