There is one thing you can do that will absolutely devastate your complex long cycle sales.
It’s a behavior that most of us revert to subconsciously the moment we made an offer or started decently important negotiations. In fact, I’d wager that’s the reason why many good deals fall to the wayside. It has nothing to do with your proposal, negotiating abilities, value proposition or charisma.
What’s that common mistake I’m talking about? Taking everything on yourself.
The other side needs to be part of the solution, not a passive listener. People don’t know what happens when they work with you. You probably don’t know what will happen in their specific case either – it’s the job of both of you to figure it out.
They’re taking a risk, and risk is scary – especially when you have lots of me-time to worry and second-guess the prospects of buying in.
Outsourcing guys and many IT firms are especially terrible with this. They can spend weeks on gathering information and make potential customers twiddle their thumbs all that time. When making offers, they completely fail at engaging the other side of the table and then wonder why nobody is enthusiastic about the project two months down the line.
This comes back to something I often get flak for pointing out: make sure your partners and customers pull their weight. People love helping others, it’s in our tribal nature. What they don’t love is being confused and paying for something they never even took part in creating.
If you want to truly get a relationship going – give ’em homework. You do your thing, they do their thing and as long as all of you have the same goal in mind, things are gonna work.
Now, there are right and wrong way of doing this, of course. The wrong ways include:
There is an art to engaging the other side and having them carry part of the weight in your sale, for sure – but the returns are well worth it.
For me this a balance I learn by doing. Failure is a great teacher. The “deer in the headlights” look from prospects and partners is a thing I’m intimately familiar with. I still get it from time to time – hell, maybe even from some of you guys reading this article. This is why I wrote my short book, after all.
Over time you just get a feel for finding points of connection and opportunities to provide and receive value. The end result is beautiful, though – few things can beat a dopamine hit from a deal which both parties worked hard to make happen.