I can’t remember the first time I heard someone say it, but I have heard it dozens of times since then: a bad deal is like a bad marriage.
The comparison is a convenient though imprecise one. Given this is Valentine’s Day, I thought an article that connects sales and romance would be appropriate.
How is a deal like a marriage?
· Emotion plays a large role in the decision to make a commitment.
· Once the deal is done, there is a “honeymoon” period.
· The relationship can last for years if each party is willing to work at it.
· A fruitful relationship will produce offspring/follow-on deals.
· Money is often the most difficult topic to address.
· Good listening skills will always improve the relationship.
· Termination of the relationship can be expensive and emotionally draining.
How is a deal not like a marriage?
· A successful deal has multiple relationships of executives on both sides. Multiple relationships are generally not a good thing in a marriage!
· The balance of “power” is not the same. In a deal, one side is typically “serving” the other’s needs. A marriage should strive to be a relationship of “equals” who treat each other with love.
· In a successful deal, each party understands its “responsibilities” and service levels are clearly defined. In a marriage, roles and performance are often a topic of discussion!
· A successful deal is typically negotiated with an end or outcome in mind. A successful marriage is “'til death do us part.”
· In a deal, the service provider is always aware that the competition is “just outside the door.” In a marriage, that is called a “stalker.”
So, though not exactly alike, what are some of the shared characteristics of a bad deal and a bad marriage and what can we do to improve both?
· Frustration with the other party’s behavior: Communicate. In a deal this is called “good governance.”
· Failure to meet expectations, whether realistic or not: Be flexible and understanding. Maybe the other side oversold, but it doesn’t mean the relationship won’t flourish.
· Seemingly “irrational” reactions: Ask and listen. Often one party’s reactions are driven by our own behavior and we don’t recognize or can’t admit we are the source of the issue.
· A desire to terminate the relationship: Seek help and problem solve. If the parties believe there is merit in the relationship, bring an objective party into the conversation to offer options on how to improve it.
Happy Valentine’s Day and good luck with all your relationships!