What’s The Big Deal? It Might Be More Than You Think...
January 17, 2019
How do you define the value of a newsworthy big deal? If your answer stops at a dollar sign, think again. Really big deals are defined and driven by the business value we bring to the customer, not the revenue we gain. It could be about helping a customer cut costs by consolidating complex, antiquated, or redundant systems, which in turn leads to better security and data integrity. It could be about strengthening their competitive edge or reducing their exposure to risk. It could even be replacing a myriad of varying self-integrated, third-party applications. These are the sorts of problems we’re addressing with larger deals.
Adopt a big deal mindset
To get on the track of a big deal, start with your own mindset. When I ask sales teams to define a big deal, too often they’ll say something like, “$500K to a million.” And that’s where you can immediately slip up because it’s an arbitrary threshold. A big deal isn’t just about a dollar amount, it’s about business impact and long-term benefit for the customer—or even their own customers. You can make that impact with a big win, but you could also start with a small, strategic use case that expands over time.
Just stay focused on the customer’s event horizon rather than your own goals, and you can make bigger deals than you ever thought possible.
Or to put it another way, shift your thinking from a growth mindset to one of a growth and big deal mind set. Here’s another example of growth mindset versus big deal mindset. I’ve heard people say that smaller markets like the Asia-Pacific region can’t support large deals. That’s just not true—large deals are being made all over the world today, including in developing economies. But if you don’t keep an open mind anchored on the totality of the benefit delivered to the customer, you’ll miss those opportunities.
Consider applying a similarly agile, flexible mindset to customers too. One size doesn’t fit all—needs vary, and so should your selling strategy. For example, pay attention to key trends and trigger points. An industry might be going through a digital transformation like application modernization, or there could be massive cost-cutting initiatives like we’re currently seeing in industrial sectors. You might target companies that are going through mergers and integrating complex systems, or divestitures looking to shed redundancy and duplication. Or maybe a new CEO is entering an organization with a fresh agenda.
Build trust and strategic relationships
As I discussed in my last blog, getting that level of insight into the customer, and access into the business, is all about building trust and providing a great experience. You need to establish credibility, and you do that by understanding the industry, trends, and the competition.
This is where the Challenger Sales methodology, and its emphasis on creating constructive tension, can be useful. Once you’ve established credibility, you can ask customers to step outside their comfort zone, think about what their competition may be doing, and consider your innovative solution for their problem.
But here’s where I might differ from the Challenger mindset, which typically isn’t as focused on relationship-building as I would like it to be. Your due diligence should include a “Map & Gap” analysis that identifies where your solution aligns with the needs of not just your primary target or sponsor, but their subordinates, leaders, and peers – consider every axis on the relationship map. Then you can get the people on your team, including executives, lawyers, and CFOs, aligned with those vertical and horizontal roles to tell your story and validate the solution based on their respective lens.
Knowing how to build customer relationships gives you more flexibility. There isn’t just one approach to handling a large deal. You can make a big splash, solve the customer’s problem, and you’re done. Or, you can take the land and expand approach. Start small in one line of business, build a value case, and engage everyone around your sponsor to seed the vision. And soon, you’re gaining support across multiple lines of business and you’ve got a real big deal. I can give many examples of this approach. But whatever methodology you choose, keep the customer’s business case as the hub of your negotiation wheel throughout the sales process. Remember the business case is your anchor, your compass rose, your True North (or whatever you may call it) throughout the sales cycle. Used early, often, and with great specificity, a business case that is validated by your customer’s data will enable you to sell more profitable deals that often grown quickly over time. You’ll build the kind of momentum that drives game-changing deals for both you and the customer.
Sell value, not just product
Remember, when it comes to selling value, it’s about the benefits you bring to the table as well. You’re enabling the customer to invest in success, not just a product. You’re on the same team as your customers, so put yourself in their shoes. Assuage concerns around areas of risk by making use of design architects, clearly defined milestones, and regular steering committee engagement.
And in your role as trusted advisor and collaborator, you can enlighten your customers. If you think outside the box, so will they. A bank can benefit from approaches used by retailers, or a manufacturer might find inspiration in the best practices of service companies. It’s always about surfacing new, thoughtful points of view from adjacent or even completely different industries. This is the same type of thinking used in the land and expand approach within an organization. Show value in one line of business and align the solution with the needs of others across the organization.
For example, my team recently closed a large deal with a multinational software firm. The customer was going through a major merger/acquisition, and needed a more modern, future-proof sales and customer service platform. We beat our competitor not only because we have great products, but because we were consistent with the way we positioned value at every touchpoint. Winning big is a team sport on both sides of the signed contract. Keep that in mind, and it’ll be a bigger win for everyone but your competition.
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