Good software sellers sell software. Great software sellers put a zero on the end of a deal. In my career, I have found very few folks are able to do the latter. If you were to ask hall-of-fame pitcher Nolan Ryan how he throws 100 mph, I betcha he could tell you the science of his mechanics, arm slot theory, hip rotation, importance of leg momentum and strength, etc. But could he outline the elements of the “art?” Growing a software deal is similar – it has both art and science. Get a look at 10 proven tactics to grow your deal, inclusive of both art and science:
- Establish your buying event and document your plan. Yep…write it down. If your buying event is too soon, make up excuses to delay a customer’s decision. You will need time to execute on a “slow and grow” strategy.
- Negotiate with code vs. margin. Once negotiation begins, reps are quick to give in on a number in exchange for time to closure. Buyers know this and take advantage of it. However, nothing stops you from offering more software and in exchange for keeping your number high.
- Identify your customer’s 5-year demand model and document it. Most buyers only buy what they want today and seek out a buying structure to grow as the environment grows. Why not show them the financial value of making a decision and buying everything up front? I’m amazed how many reps seem afraid to do this.
- Tie a buyer’s personal win to a larger deal. One time I asked a SVP of Finance at a $7B company, “$500K deals are boring, John – why don’t we go make you visible to the board and do a BIG deal? $4, $5, or even a $6M deal?” My rep almost threw me out of the cab when I asked that question, but magically we started discussing a multi-million-dollar deal after that!
- Once buying event is established, turn your prospecting efforts to other line of business owners to make them aware. As an example: if you’re software benefits the Finance department, begin to call supply chain, HR, Marketing, and others with a message that looks something like this: Sally, my organization is close to an enterprise deal with XYZ, and I believe the negotiations will lead us to an unlimited-type of agreement…and I believe HR will benefit. Would you like to meet to discuss the HR elements/benefits in this transaction?
- Get a DEEP understanding of how funding occurs and guide your coach on soliciting other funding sources. Larger deals can often be a compilation of funding from many different internal stakeholders. Your sponsor will push back on soliciting these stakeholders, but it forces a discussion early in your cycle around both funding as well as pricing. This is a good thing.
- Know the ROI and own that process/storyboard. ROI selling became in-vogue in 2002 and seems to have lost a bit of emphasis in recent years. This isn’t because companies quit requiring ROI to fund initiatives, but because buyers will often push back on your involvement. If sales team knows the payback, they often feel they will lose out on negotiation. This is absolutely true, so fight hard to take a deeper role there.
- Find ways to get your solution tied to revenue vs. expense reduction. I’ve done large deals in my career, but no question the largest ones have usually been tied to top line growth. This usually gets the bigger dollars from the board.
- Follow your political map to a member of the board and tie your solution to his political agenda. This is very complicated and requires sophisticated political jockeying to pull this off…but if and when you do it, your checking account will thank you.
- Sounds simple, but stay with list price as long as you can. When you start high in negotiation, you will usually end higher.
Any of these resonate? Let us know if you’ve done these and how it turned out!