Closing a deal or sale of ‘size,’ by that, I mean a relatively large transaction (be it selling a company, real estate, even a high-end car), often comes down to the strength of the buyer’s and seller’s relationship. And the more people there are involved in the sales process, on either side of the table, the lower the odds of closing. One of the toughest aspects of closing a big deal is that there are often many parties involved, with little to no skin in the game and a lack of understanding about the relationship between buyer and seller. All individuals brought into the process have opinions about what is right. On big deals these days there are advisors, lawyers, underwriters, brokers, etc. All of which can slow, even blow a deal.
Closing a deal is all about the nuances. And understanding the nuances of the buyer’s preferences, personality and comfort level takes time only someone who has gotten to know him can realize… someone who has built a *rapport and appreciates the efforts required to get it to the home stretch.
*You can never really get to know someone in a group setting. It’s hard to bond when it’s not one on one.
How I Blew a Major Deal
I know the importance of closing a sale solo because a few years back I had a lucrative deal fall through when I mistakenly brought in three professionals to help close it off while I was traveling. Prior to leaving, the terms were verbally agreed upon between me and the other principal involved. Only he and I would have had skin in that game. And one of the professionals I brought in had the task of summarizing all terms and sending over the details to the other principal…
The problem was, the professional sent the terms in legalese without proper context. Basically sent over a bunch of numbers and percentages without adequately explaining what they meant. The prospective client/partner was a novice when it came to structuring something of this nature and had insecurities only I could appreciate (because we had gotten to know each other and formed a bond). Without getting a proper explanation of why the terms were drawn up the way they were, he got spooked. By the time I was able to talk to him, the damage was done. The process became tedious and tiresome after that, and both of us eventually gave up and moved on. What I should have done, at the very least, was asked the professional who I tasked with drawing up the term summary to send me the draft and I could edit and then send. Stupid. I was busy and left the field on 4th and 1. Lesson learned.
Closing a Sale Comes Down to the Nuances
Another excellent example of why you should close solo comes from the gentleman I bought two of my last three cars from. He’s a fantastic salesperson. Never pushy, relaxed, very personable, and honest. An enjoyable guy to be around. On one occasion, I remember going to his dealership to upgrade my vehicle. He literally convinced me not to buy a new ride because not much had changed since I had bought my last. A real gentleman…
On my latest visit to see him, he told me how the new, young management team was changing the sales process at his dealership. The sales team received instructions to pass on any prospective customer’s contact details to the front office for follow up calls after they left the dealership. This is so wrong for many reasons, namely the fact that if the sales rep just spent an hour test driving a car with a prospective buyer, would it not make more sense for the sales rep to call? Secondarily, how does the front office understand the nuances of that potential buyer’s preferences and personality? The front office won’t know what was said during that test drive – the little things matter most. And to that point, my salesperson at the dealership told me how the front office pissed off a client by calling his home after he had left the dealership… no one was home, so front office left a message on the family voicemail. Unbeknownst to the front office person, he was trying to surprise his wife with a new vehicle for their anniversary. Guess who played the message when she got home?
Astutely, my salesperson told me he now intentionally changes one number in the phone number of the prospective client so to avoid front office blowing the deal. Bravo.
If possible, avoid bringing outside people in to the sales process. Nine times out of ten they’re only going to make the process more complicated. If you have to bring in third parties (such as lawyers or advisors for complex transactions), clearly define their tasks and who, if anyone, they’re allowed to be in contact with. It’s one area in business you need to micromanage. Third parties are there to help facilitate the sale, not impede it; which, more often than not, is all they’re good for. Closing a sale is all about trust and the relationship you have built. So close solo.
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