Most sales executives tend to chase any deal they can get their hands on, but the exceptional elite ones focus their time and attention on whale sized mega deals.They realize that achieving their quota by only chasing smaller deals can be an insurmountable task and would rather hunt the ones that enable them to blow away their quota with one or two giant deals, while simultaneously earning some life altering cash. Of course whale hunting has its risks too, and it can take a while to find and bag one. Therefore, it’s important to maintain balance in your pipeline to allow you to feed the family while out hunting for the big game.
It’s no surprise that it’s typically the more seasoned sales pros who hunt and win big, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I’ve been fortunate to have had success closing a good deal of multi-million dollar deals, and also worked closely with some of the most talented sales executives in the software industry. What follows are the top ten proven best practices you should carry out to help you close more mega deals:
- Think, Act, and Dream Big. It may seem cliche, however, the first step is to truly believe and have the passion and confidence to win and succeed. If you don’t have the belief that you can and will be successful, you’re probably gonna be right.
- Go For It – Mega Deals Are Actually Easier to Close. If you’ve been in sales for a while, you already know that it can take as long (or even longer) to close a small departmental deal versus a mega deal. Mega deals are typically born from critical corporate initiatives that are sponsored and driven by the CEO or even the board of directors. Since these initiatives have such a high priority and substantial visibility, they will almost always lead to well defined and funded projects with specific timelines for execution by the company. Since they typically will have a very high business impact, they will be backed by executives that are influencers and decision makers who are very motivated to deliver.
- Always Keep a Maniacal Focus on What’s Important to Your Customer. Perhaps the most important element in any sales cycle (and especially with any mega deal) is to have a clear and concise understanding of what your customers’ initiatives and priorities are and how your solution can positively impact their business. Make sure you do your homework to gain that insight and validate the same with your customer.
- Align Executive Teams. Early on in the sales cycle, you should introduce your management team to the key executives of your customer. Having these relationships in place will instill confidence and build credibility for you and your company and help eliminate any uncertainty your customer may have. Additionally, there’s a good chance you may need assistance from these people when you run into an important issue that may need to be escalated for resolution. Your customer execs will also have someone from your company they can contact whenever needed. Bottom line is that its mutually beneficial to have a familiar voice call in a request or favor to a familiar person they have met, versus getting a call or email from a total stranger.
- Get Creative. Sometimes it requires thinking outside of the box to come up with a strategy to score big. Ask questions like “what would it take to get this deal done if we had no limits?”, or “what can we do that’s never been done before to get our customer to move forward with an enterprise wide deal?”. That thought process will likely spawn ideas neither you nor your customer were considering before.
- Build a Collaborative Success Plan With Your Customer. Once you’ve established your sales strategy, build a success plan with your customer that outlines the specific dates and milestones needed to be completed to get your customer from where they are today, to their ultimate desired state. Developing and following the plan will help you drive your sale to closure by understanding important information such as when the contracts need to be signed, resources allocated, hardware/software purchases, project kickoff dates, implementation, quality assurance testing, and go live dates, etc. Once the plan is agreed, you will have a clear understanding about when your deal will close.
- Validate Cross Functional/Departmental Funding and Support of Your Solution. The biggest deals to be had are the ones that have the greatest impact to a company. By getting more people, departments, and project teams onboard with your solution, you will naturally grow the size of your deal. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because a particular team has agreed they would like to have your product, that they will actually spend money to buy it. I’ve seen veteran sales execs make the mistake of confusing “interest” with “ability to buy”. When it came time to do the big deal, those with the interest were unable to get the support and funding to move forward and their mega deal evaporated into thin air. You should have multiple and frequent touch-points with your customer champions and their executive teams throughout the sales cycle to validate the support of your solution, budget, and more importantly, their ability to spend.
- Bring Your “A” Team. Make sure you have the best resources available to participate in every interaction with your customer so you are bringing value each time. Those resources should also align with your customer and can be leveraged as trusted advisors that can provide assistance, information, and guidance at any time. You can’t afford to have the B or C team show up for critical meetings as the primary presenters that might leave your customer wondering about your companies ability to execute, and potentially kill your credibility, or even worse, kill your deal.
- Learn From the Mistakes of Others and Leverage Your Team. You typically hear that you should learn from your own mistakes. While that may be true, it’s faster and less costly to learn from other people’s mistakes so you can avoid making them in the first place. Take advantage of the knowledge, talent, wisdom, ideas, and experience of others on your team versus taking a cowboy approach of trying to do it all on your own. Sales is a team sport so make sure you take advantage of all the talent you have available to you.
- Demonstrate The True Value of Your Product/Solution. Connect the dots between your customers’ priorities, needs, and requirements, to the real value your solution will provide. When you demonstrate your value and detail how you will enable your customer to achieve their goals, save money, and increase productivity, you will naturally transition from actively selling to having your customer convinced that yours is the solution they want to invest in. When that happens, it’s a beautiful thing! When it doesn’t, you clearly have more work to do.
By following these effective sales strategies while whale hunting, you will greatly improve your chances of success. I encourage you to exercise these best practices to help you land your next whale deal, and please let me know if I missed anything here that has worked for you.
By Paul M. Balzano
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