So it’s week four of the quarter (yes, we are counting), the last week of the month. If you are following along this blog series, you are executing your sales plan, cleaned your opportunity pipeline and identified the opportunities you will pursue to make your sales quota. Now what?
You pursue each of your target opportunities with rigor, confirming their need, their budget and their dominant buying motive. With the quote for products and services in the hands of their decision maker, you feel confident enough to forecast the opportunity as a booking. All set? Not quite.
The savvy prospect has a buying plan and a buyer, whose sole job is ensuring the most favorable price, terms and conditions. Most buyers know that waiting until the last week or day of the month – and even better end of the quarter – puts them in a position of power; because the sales professional (and his/her bosses) often bend over backwards to close the deal to make forecast.
Negotiations and paperwork are part of every sale, and it is best to get them done at a time and place of your choosing. While features, service plans and price are critical to the negotiations, don’t forget to lock down the Terms and Conditions (the Ts & Cs) of the deal sooner rather than later – before you commit an opportunity to the forecast.
Get the administration done early so you are prepared to close quickly.
Negotiating Ts & Cs usually indicate sophistication or shrewd stubbornness on the part of the prospect and often require the review of your legal team, your product team and for good measure your SVP and, well, why not your CEO too.
So how long does this gauntlet approval process take? What if there is a back-and-forth approval volley with the prospect? Do I hear days? Anyone for weeks? Sold to the salesman with the troubled face!
Do not compromise your success, or that of your sales team and your company by leaving critical negotiations to the last moment. Rest assured the legal team is not going to drop everything they are doing because you or your deal is “special”. Unless the deal is a bonafide "blue bird" that suddenly fell in your lap, your SVP and your CEO are not going to appreciate your negligence or the ability of a prospect's buyer to take you to school like a rookie.
Before you think you have the deal fully negotiated, and before you forecast it, make sure you have your administration in order. Terms and conditions (and a master services agreement if need be) can be a time-consuming and costly distraction when they are not agreed to and signed in advance. Negotiating your necessary administration in advance will help you contribute to the team's success, rather than creating a fire-drill when everybody should be ringing the closer's bell.
PS – And to answer a millennial’s question “Ps & Qs” is an English expression for “mind your manners” or “be on your best behavior” – and in sales, that is sage advice as well.