Getting it signed………

by Nick Bailey

I’ve written this blog article because I’ve noticed that over my 28 year sales career a strange phenomenon comes into play just at the point after the client has said they want to go ahead with you on a deal, but the contract isn’t quite fully signed off and as each day, or even worse week, goes by the tensions rise as to why not…….

The exact point in question is where you’ve done all the hard work on negotiations and you have all your outstanding points agreed and now its time to maintain the momentum and get the deal signed. There is however, in my experience, a kind of weird hiatus that can kick in at this moment in time and despite all good intentions from each party the energy dives on both sides and frustration can occur whilst you wait for them to process some signed paperwork.

As a motor sports fan I want to paint an analogy which I hope will stick in your mind and prevent you from losing any deal at the finishing line…Essentially, the metaphor for where you are in the deal is that you are in the lead entering the last corner of what was a really tough Grand Prix and because you can see in your mirrors and you have heard from the pits over the radio that your nearest competitor is at least 20 seconds behind, you believe you can switch off the motor and cruise over the line and victory will be yours……Never ever do this in a race car or in a business deal. You must keep your foot planted on that throttle until the chequered flag (signature on contract) has dropped over your car. You haven’t won anything, either race or your contract, until this happens. So how do you get it done? Well really it’s the last vital part of your closing ‘project plan’, which you should have mapped out in specifics. Don’t just have ‘customer signs deal’ though as a line item on the plan. Have ‘customer signs deal like this….’ in precise detail with all the dates and people highlighted. The sorts of things you need to know and have covered are;

  • Who are the people who actually sign this deal and in what order? E.g. COO, then CFO, then CEO?
  • Are they teed up in their diaries to do it?
  • Do you know for sure none of these people are about to go on holiday or in hospital! (believe me it happens all the time and they don’t always care if the deal slips over your quarter or year end!)
  • Can you orchestrate being allowed to ‘walk’ the contract around their office to meet the C level signatories personally with your internal customer sponsor? This is a great tactic and one that I encouraged a sales person in my team to do one December and he got the final CEO’s signature on Christmas Eve, one hour before they left for their office party!

Good luck with your closing!

©Nick Bailey 2012 extract from ‘Customers are F.I.C.K.L.E’™ Published by Filament Publishing.