“My dream buyer for the family business all along was Warren Buffett,” said Barnett Helzberg, the owner-manager of Helzberg’s Diamond shops.  “I knew we could trust him to keep the headquarters in Kansas City, resist changing the company’s character, and retain the jobs of all of Helzberg’s associates. It might have been simpler to sell to the highest bidder, but that notion seemed as sensible as choosing a brain surgeon based on the lowest price rather than on talent and reputation.”

Now Buffett loves jewelry. Not to wear, but to own as a business. Without a doubt this was in the back of Helzberg’s mind when he bumped into Buffett in New York City.

“As I walked past the Plaza Hotel near 58th Street and Fifth Avenue on a glorious May morning in 1994, I heard someone call out, ‘Warren Buffett!’” recalled Helzberg, who didn’t squander the chance encounter.

As busy New Yorkers rushed past, Helzberg told the greatest dealmaker in the world why he should make a deal for his family’s 79-year-old jewelry business.  “I believe that our company matches your criteria for investment,” Helzberg said.

To which Buffett replied, simply, “Send me the information. It will be confidential.” Before long the deal was done.

Triple Your Chances of Finding a Deal Champion

Helzberg was able to go straight to the top. However, in our book “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett” we discuss that it helps to have a champion on the inside. Recruiting a champion is not difficult, although it may seem that way at times.  Let us introduce a method that has been used with great success by our clients.

Before you make any connection at all, you have to be thoroughly versed in exactly what you want to say.  It’s alarming how many people write an email or push buttons on the phone before they know exactly what they should say.  The result is they don’t get what they want. So we’ll start with your message, what we call “The Triples.” These are:

  1. Three problems of prospect
  2. Three solutions or outcomes from you
  3. Three references to testify to your abilities

When it comes time to make your initial contact with your identified Champion, The Triples provide you an excellent way to “get in.” Here’s why. You’re talking about the very issues your prospects have identified for their company. You’re appealing to money, time, and risk when you cite your potential outcomes. And you’re telling them some other companies, much like theirs, have experienced similar kinds of outcomes from their work with you.

Triple #1.  Prospect’s three problems to be solved.  By now, we assume you have a firm grasp on the problems you can solve for your clients.  If you haven’t already, take the time now to write those problems down in terms of money, time, and risk.

Triple #2.  Your three-part solution.  Now you need to think about exactly how you solve these problems.  No doubt you have found your solution already in this process.  Write it out in terms the above three problems identified

Triple #3.  Your three references.  The third step of the Triples is to identify at least three references you can use—people who have seen similar kinds of outcomes when they used your products or services. This can be a sensitive area.  Sometimes you have to be careful because of confidentiality agreements or internal agreements with your clients.  Sometimes, you can’t talk about your customers because that might put them on your competitor’s radar.  Barring those limitations, we will say this:  the most effective way to get the attention of prospects is to drop the names of others just like them.

Bottom line: remember to think three by three when talking to deal champions. The three triples are the types of messages to which prospects respond and about which they’ll want to hear more.

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