According to Black Swan CEO and founder Chris Voss, it’s not a sin to not get a deal. However, it is a sin to take a long time to not get a deal.
The best salespeople can sniff out deals that are traps and time-wasters and focus the bulk of their energy on opportunities that may be lucrative.
Remember that hope—as in “hoping to get the deal”—is not a strategy. When you rely on hope, you waste your time and money.
Use these three tactics to identify deals that are unlikely to be made so you can move on and focus on the next one.
1. You’re the fool.
Are you unsure if there’s a deal to be had? An easy way to determine whether you’re the favorite or the fool is by asking a Proof of Life™ question: There are so many companies out there that have similar products—why are you choosing to do business with us?
Watch out if they come back with something like: I don’t know—why don’t you tell me? You’re likely the fool in the game, and your counterpart probably has a solution in mind and is just reaching out to you to do their due diligence. In such a scenario, it’s time to walk away.
On the other hand, if they come back and share your value proposition—Your company is fantastic, you have a great reputation, and we’ve always looked for an opportunity to work together when it made sense—you’re likely the favorite and a deal is right around the corner.
2. Their vision doesn’t include you.
When our clients are trying to figure out whether they might make a deal, we encourage them to ask this Calibrated Question™: What is your vision of this deal moving forward? If their vision doesn’t include you, you’re unlikely to get the deal.
Before you use the vision question, launch into an Accusation Audit® and share a Summary™ of why you’re there. Then you might ask something like this: What’s your vision for this deal between our two companies?
If their vision includes you—We want to make a deal with you, we just need x, y, and z—you’re in a good place, and you’ve uncovered those extra tidbits of information hidden in the conversation. Your company might be able to deliver on x and y while turning to a partner capable of handling z, and your counterpart will no doubt be happy to hear the news.
3. Labels™ and Mislabels reveal a red flag.
Using Labels™ and Mislabels is a great way to cut to the proverbial chase and determine whether there’s a deal in your future. For example, if you’re dealing with procurement, you might say something like: It seems like you’re also looking at other options. If they come back and tell you they haven’t been talking to anyone else, that’s great news. On the other hand, watch out if they say something like this: Correct—we’re also looking at four other companies. That may mean it’s time to cut your losses and move on to the next deal.
I’ve coached many people from software companies over the years, and they’re always competing with several different companies for contracts. Procurement is required to vet several vendors before making a purchasing decision. Most of the time, the buyer has to call five or six different companies and prepare a presentation for management or the board. When you hear from procurement, they most likely have a solution in mind but are required to get other bids. The software companies were doing a lot of work to prepare for presentations when it was very unlikely they would get the contract.
Are you often asked to give bids but never get the work? Find out ahead of time if you’re in the running by using Labels: It seems as if you have other options. You can also cut to the chase using Mislabels: It seems like we’re one of the top companies you’re considering. If the other side doesn’t provide a robust answer, you probably won’t get that work, meaning there’s no point in wasting three weeks preparing a presentation that ultimately won’t matter.
Stop wasting your time!
Sales is often a numbers game. Even so, there’s no point in chasing deals that are unlikely to ever come to fruition.
The sooner you identify if there’s a deal to be had, the faster you can move on to the next one and win more business.
To learn more about closing deals when your counterpart is tough, check out our free eBook: 5 Negotiation Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People.