Disney and Star Wars: Doing Deals at Light Speed
It would be easy to assume that the nine zeroes in the price for the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney made the deal move faster…that would be the wrong assumption. Offer prices may get deals done, but they don’t get them done faster. Speed to the deal is set by something beyond the money.
When The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) did the $4.05 billion deal to obtain Lucasfilm, they were following a pattern that had brought into the fold proven franchises like Marvel, Pixar and The Muppets. The family portrait now includes Mickey Mouse, Luke Skywalker, Iron Man, Buzz Lightyear and Kermit the Frog.
In addition to cash, the sale by the 68-year-old Lucas to Disney assures a good home for his creation. For the galaxy of Star Wars fans, expect a new film to join the franchise in 2015. Money was only a part of the motivator for Lucas (already a billionaire) for selling his company. Lucas gets a steward for his iconic property and the world’s strongest distribution channel and merchandising partner for like properties.
Disney obviously goes for what it wants, but how do you know if the deal is the right one for you? In our book “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett,” we state that every dealmaker has to decide on his or her own criteria. Buffett publishes his in his annual “Letter from the Chairman” in the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report. Clarity is one of the keys to closing deals faster. Disney used clarity and some other keys to getting this world-class deal done.
Four Steps for Faster Deal Making
So maybe you are familiar with the adage “that time kills deals.” Here are four steps to accelerate the deal:
1. Ask the right questions. Get the prospect’s fears onto the table early so you can alleviate them. Questions like: “Who in your company may be negatively impacted if you change what you are doing now and start using us?” “What keeps your organization from implementing initiatives that it likes?” Don’t avoid the questions and pretend they are not there. These are what keep the deal from concluding.
2. Understand their fear, and articulate that understanding. In all your conversations and printed materials, emphasize the many ways that you will make their future easier, not more difficult. Decrease the number and severity of changes you will suggest. Provide roadmaps to guide the prospect along the path to the future. Don’t expect the prospect to fill in the blanks. Explain exactly what the working relationship with you will be like for the prospect. Emphasize the ease with which anticipated changes can be made. Clarity is the key to speed.
3. Go the extra mile. Let the prospect know you will do everything in your power to make the implementation a problem-free zone for the prospect. Make available the full resources of your company. Provide training as needed.
4. Emphasize what will NOT change. Make certain the prospect clearly understands which of its many systems will not change as a consequence of doing a deal with you. The more you can reassure the prospect changes will be minimal, the higher your chances of success will be.
The unstated truth in making faster deals is that fear sets the speed, not the dollar signs. Work on dropping the fear rather than decreasing the price if you want to move the deal to light speed.