Case History – Five Lessons Learned from the 8 Figure Sale

Here’s a debriefing scenario that’s hot off the presses.

Last week, an 8 figure deal was scheduled to close at the end of the month.

History – The sales team has pursued this Fortune 500 existing client for 20 months. They have been doing business together for 10 years. The basic terms of the deal have been in place for 90 days and the client had signed a letter of intent 90 days ago. The deal was negotiated ’round the clock for the last two weeks and the 76th version of the proposal was brought to the CFO for approval on Friday.  Sound good so far?

The CFO, the final decision maker, was not involved in the final negotiations and was not aware of the compelling reasons, quantification, cost justification or urgency to proceed.  The urgency was the sales team’s urgency to get it closed before the end of their quarter, not the client’s urgency. The 150 plus page proposal was brought to him at 5 PM on Friday and he had 30 minutes to make a decision.  In light of the limited time to make a high 8-figure decision and his lack of awareness of the cost justification for the purchase, what do you think he said?

The Sales Team? They invested 20 months and lived and breathed this opportunity for the last 90 days to the exclusion of everything else.  They were devastated.

The Client? They didn’t get what they wanted but life goes on.

The Lessons? The five big ones follow:

1) The final decision maker must be the one to negotiate the deal – if it’s not his deal, how can he say yes?

2) If the proposal is 150 pages, it will take more than 30 minutes to review it.

3) I don’t care if the opportunity is with the Fortune 1. High 8 figures is high 8 figures.  The CFO’s role is to protect the profit and cash flow of the enterprise.  The CFO won’t say yes if he only has 30 minutes to decide.

4) If you bring a decision-maker into the process when you are between third base and home and he hasn’t been deeply involved in the process, retreat back to 2nd base, review how you got to 2nd, review how you got to 3rd, and only then is it OK to present your solution, not the proposal. If he is OK with the solution, then you can provide a copy of the proposal, the solution formalized in writing.

5) Your deadline to get a deal closed has nothing to do with the customer’s urgency or lack of it.  It’s all about them, not you, and closing must take place on their timeline, not yours.

What did you learn from this case history that you can apply to your business?  Send your lessons or questions to me for possible inclusion in a future Baseline Selling Tip.