Friday, December 7, 2012

Who Cares?

 “Verdi, this is the second time you have delayed closing this deal for another quarter,” said Tyler Gitou. “What seems to be the problem?”

“I don’t know,” Verdi said. “The client shows all the indications that they are ready to buy. They need the software, like, yesterday, to replace their old system. The system is out of compliance and the regulators are getting antsy. I guess it’s just caught up in the purchasing bureaucracy.”

“The ‘bureaucracy’?” Tyler laughed. “If their building was on fire, how much bureaucracy would they wade through before they called the fire department?”

Verdi shrugged. “None. They’d make a call.”

“Yes, because if they had to save the business they would act. It sounds like they need to save the business here as well. So let me ask you a simple question. Who cares?”

Verdi furrowed his brow. “I don’t understand.”

“This is a question that is core to your ability to achieve a commitment and make a sale. Who in the client organization cares most about solving the problem that has been identified? If this software does not get installed, who gets fired?”

“That’s probably Jenna Connell, the CIO.”

“And who is your key contact at the client?” Tyler asked.

“I am working with Tim Luizza, the procurement lead.”

“How often have you met with Jenna Connell?”

Verdi thought for a moment. “Never.”

“So what I am hearing is you have spent the last six months talking to procurement and all you have to show for it are a bunch of ‘what-if’ scenarios and specifications and modifications, but you don’t have a deal.”

“That’s… accurate. But I don’t think it’s fair.”

“Why isn’t it fair?” Tyler asked.

“Because I have also built a good relationship with Tim in that time. And he tells me we are the leading contender for the business.”

Tyler nodded. “Building a strong trusted relationship is a positive outcome. But how much have you spent in your budget to get that relationship? And has Tim committed that your investment will pay off?”

“No, he can’t.”

“Why not?” Tyler asked.

“Because… he’s not the one making the decision.” Verdi sighed. “OK, I get it now. I need to develop a strategy to speak with the decision-maker, and not the facilitator.”

“Exactly,” Tyler said. “One of the key elements in a healthy negotiation is a commitment. A Deal Whisperer knows how to tell the difference between learn, churn and earn. The parties first must go through a process to learn about each other and the issues. From there, one has to be careful to control the amount of churn as the client comes to a decision. If not managed, churn can burn your budget! But if done well, you’ll have just enough churn to earn the client’s trust and their commitment. The three have to be balanced so don’t rush one and don’t waste time on another. Balance your ‘learn and churn’ and you’ll have a much more efficient ‘earn’.”