We may think that to land the biggest deals, we need to propose the best prices. However, every top seller knows that price isn’t the biggest factor alone to close the deal. So what else is involved?
An excerpt from Tom Searcy’s latest book How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett: Lessons from the World’s Greatest Dealmaker — written with Henry DeVries and published by McGraw-Hill — may illuminate this point:
“When Walmart sold Warren Buffett their McLane Company Division, which was valued at $22 billion in 2003 at the time of the sale, they made a choice they never made before — to sell a part of the company. Was it the money? A fair question, but Walmart has plenty of money — and although the $1.45 billion cash acquisition price was a nice chunk of change, the real reason was the strategic benefit.”
What you see here is addition by subtraction, a creative way to seal the biggest deals: For immediate results and quick satisfaction, an auction would have done the trick, but that’s not what Walmart did. Instead, they wisely wanted to keep the capability of McLane as a part of its supply and distribution. McLane was the weakest link in the chain for Walmart, and so Buffett’s speedy transaction brought an independence that would allow investments and revenues for McLane to grow without negatively impacting Walmart’s balance sheet.
The biggest deals’ sales can’t only be a one-sided conversation, so ask yourself: What do you bring to a customer’s strategy?
This is to say, to be a good seller, you need to think like the buyer. When you hunt sales, the strategy should dictate the course of action, and that’s because the strategy has a longer horizon for delivery of a result, shows you have taken the buyer’s situation into consideration, and protects the core value of a business.
If you want to see what other factors come into play for landing large accounts, consider these three tactics:
1 Think Long Term
Salespeople often think in the short term. This isn’t a problem, per se, and who can blame them: deals want to close, commissions want to be gained. But these quick strikes can create an institutional issue of making the staff think in terms of the “now,” not the “strategic.” Work smarter, not faster: there are multiple avenues toward landing a sale beyond just changing figures and negotiating tactics, and if you unlock how a deal can best serve both parties in the long term, each may come to the table more readily.
2 Ask the Right Questions
Here are three questions to get you moving into a different mindset for bringing strategic value to your customers and prospects: “If I owned my prospect’s business, then….”
- What would my biggest market fear be?
- Who would be my biggest competitive threat?
- How could I lengthen my unique advantage cycle by six months to a year?
If you are not considering these questions, you may have trouble closing the sale.
3 Consider Timing
As they say, timing is everything — in successful football passes, in comedy, and absolutely in sales. Part of your strategy should involve studying a company’s stock performance or revenue over time. If businesses are taking a downturn, it could be an advantageous moment to make a lucrative sale; if they are on the up and up, you may have to sweeten the deal or show why your proposition would be beneficial. Come in knowing your customer so that they feel you’ve done your homework and will want to work together fruitfully.
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