After leading – and participating in different roles – several deals in the last years, I noticed that some deal fundamentals always apply. Whenever it’s a very complex, large or mid-size, even small deal, they always return one way or another. Here are 8 simple tips to know, use and adapt to manage your deal better.
Customer Stakeholder Management
You have to ensure you have all customer stakeholders involved during the entire deal life cycle. It’s key you discuss and agree ( best in written ) your proposal cornerstones with the right counterparts at your customer. We all know how frustrating it’s you think you delivered exactly what your customer asked, and a sudden somebody else ( the person you should have been talking too from the beginning ) completely changes the scope, business case, requirements, etc. If your competition has been talking to this person from the beginning, you’re one step behind!
Internal Stakeholder Management
While your team is designing the state-of-the-art solution, building a solid business case or designing the sales presentation, you need to ensure your Sr. Management is fully aligned on your deal strategy. You need to make sure all key stakeholders – the approvers who will decide in your corporate approval board – understand your ‘way-of-thinking’ how to win this deal. Best is to have some ‘pre-sessions’ either upfront or explaining a bit by the coffee machine. Ensure you don’t get negative surprises in your approval boards, which are normally not far away from the expected proposal delivery date at your customer. Be in control!
If someone ( or an entire team ) in your company has already done a similar deal, consult him/them, and ask what their learning points were during the deal. Why did they win the deal? Why did they lose the deal? What did their customer think of the proposal? If possible, even engage their customer and ask his feedback ( there is no better feedback then feedback from a customer, either you won or lost the deal ). Try to simply avoid the same mistakes happen again and potentially loses you a deal, instead use them to sharpen your deal proposition.
Unique Selling Points (USP’s)
Make sure you conduct several sessions with your team to analyze and ensure you got the right USP’s in your proposal. Question and challenge yourself with: What makes our proposal better than the competition? Would you go for the deal if you were the customer? If yes, why? If not, go back to the drawing board! What benefits does your customer customers have by choosing your product or service? Etc.
Keep it simple, stupid (KISS)
Look very sharp at your customer requirements and expectations and ensure you don’t ‘over solution’ your proposal. Keep it simple, stupid to ensure you propose the solution or product your customer is really asking for. You can only do this if you understand your customer business and customer customers’ business. For example: In what projects is your customer currently involved? Which were closed recently? Or why do they need your product or service now? Make sure you answer simple, sharp and clear.
How often do we like to explain more than really is needed? There is nothing stronger in an answer then a simple ‘YES’. Try to keep your responses clear and don’t over-complicate things. For example, if you customer asks to have the Helpdesk language in Spanish, and you can deliver it, simply answer with a ‘yes’ instead of a yes with a lot of explanation behind it ( E.g. locations, opening hours, 1st line, 2nd line, etc. )
Don’t be shy and use the triply WHY questioning if you want to understand – or potentially counter – the underlying argumentation. Allot of people simply comply with or accept statements and decisions, but in general, they simply don’t understand them. Use this and you will see it will help you in shaping a better deal proposition, solution or to understand your customer better.
Cheap for us
Valuable for them! If your company is an expert in something, and they have all the knowledge or expertise without ( or limited ) additional costs available, ensure you use them in your proposal. For example, use real-time customer examples where you used this expertise to show your differentiation from your competition. But be careful, don’t overuse them, as everything costs something, and you don’t want to ‘out price’ yourself.
Are the above tips new? NO, but how often are they simply forgotten and ruin an opportunity?