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SELLING A BUSINESS

How to Close the Biggest Deals

There are seven key factors that change in scale in a "big deal." Here's how to identify them--and then take the necessary steps to land it.
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You don't climb the biggest hill in your neighborhood the same way you would tackle Mount Everest. Changes in scale require a big shift in tactics.

Let's start with the seven things that make your big sale different than your average size sale:

  1. Size: Obvious, sure, but worth the mention. Adding a couple of zeros to the deal can change more than just the sweatiness of your palms.
  2. Complexity: The bigger the deal, the more moving parts. Moving from 100 loaves to 100,000 loaves may not change the recipe–but it increases the logistical complexity of getting the bread to the market.
  3. Decision-makers: Big sales choices are made by more senior people with different agendas (and budgets) than the front-line user. And bigger sales always mean more people involved in the decision.
  4. Reasons: Customers buy a car for different reasons than they would use to buy a fleet. Personal preference is a much smaller part of the decision.
  5. Process: Small sales often have a three-step process: offer, consider, decide. Larger purchases often require structured evaluation processes.
  6. Resources: To support those various processes and multiple people involved, large sales take greater resources–more travel, more people, and so on.
  7. Cycles: Big sales take longer.

The list can be so daunting that I know many people who shy away from big sales completely.

But bigger sales bring faster growth. So if you are ready for the growth, you should seek out those bigger deals.

What do you have to do to win the big sale?

  • Different decision makers mean different hunters. To connect with senior buyers, you need to bring more firepower to the conversation–more senior people from your own company, more customer references, and definitely a team of your own subject matter experts.
  • Different reasons mean different language: You need to talk "fleet" language, not "car" language. Understand the issues of each of the members of the buying group.
  • Different process means different strategy: If transactional sales are mostly about trust and relationship, then what are the drivers of process-based sales? At each step, make sure you have the necessary tools to win.
  • Different resources mean better coordination. Your subject matter experts are engaged in the delivery of your other promises to current clients. Your use of those resources must be efficient, judicious and orchestrated.
  • Different cycles means patience and progress tracking: Large sales often go through several stages. These may involve drawings, prototypes, cost justifications, final proposals and negotiations. If you are used to a fast cycle, you will need to learn to measure wins in increments of progress, not just final outcomes.

I'll be candid: Big sales are awesome. Few things bring the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment as landing a whopper deal.

Just make certain that you understand the differences between your typical sales and the big ones, so that you scale your approach and expectations accordingly.

Last updated: May 4, 2012

TOM SEARCY | Columnist | Founder, Hunt Big Sales

Author, speaker, and consultant Tom Searcy is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy's weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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