Close Your Deals

There is a lot of money out there that is trading hands, and you get to compete for your share. The best way you can prepare for this is to complete your education and training, then put in long hours and gain on-the-job experience. Along the way, you will learn what to look for in a good contract and how to ensure all the terms you need exist like a good termination clause, an agreement stating your employees are not to compete with you or steal your secrets (A Noncompete and Proprietary Inventions Agreement respectively), and so on.

The relatively small details in every negotiation are less important than finalizing a deal overall, and ultimately getting paid, so don’t let miniscule points keep you from closing the deal.

The bottom line is always in the math. If the math works and you are happy with the personalities of the opposing parties, you can’t be scared to take on a project. Having said that, if other parties do not accept your math, the only leverage you have is to walk away. Therefore, you must be willing to walk with no personal attachment to any deal. A reserved disposition will help you make better business decisions without emotional baggage or confusion. Decide where your boundaries are and stick to them.

When you are purchasing from a vendor for the first time, and you believe your account is or will be one of their largest or best, then it’s appropriate to ask for what’s called most favored nation (MFN) status in your contracts. MFN will ensure that other customers (possibly including your competitors) are not getting better pricing, and that if they do in the future, you would be entitled to the same.

Deal-making is a lot like playing poker. Your hand represents your leverage, or lack thereof. Interestingly, in poker, your competitors cannot tell what leverage you have unless you have cards face up on the table. You pretend to have leverage by bluffing; in business, you can try the same. Yet, if someone calls your bluff and you cannot produce, you will have destroyed some of your credibility.

In poker, your competitors have to play directly against you since it’s a zero sum game. Conversely, in business, both you and the competition can actually create a larger market for everyone to share, even while you are competing head-to-head in the existing market.

Another helpful analogy can be seen in billiards. Playing nine-ball is a cutthroat game. Namely, all the hard work in sinking balls one through eight is for naught unless you successfully sink the nine-ball, i.e., close the deal. You can sink the first eight balls yourself and play a fantastic game. But despite all of your successful efforts, just one good shot from your competitor when on the nine-ball will seal the deal in his favor.

Similarly, in business, it doesn’t really matter how well you play throughout the game unless you win, get paid, or close the deal. All your hard work could generate a good reputation and good business leads for you; however, to truly be successful, you have to complete whatever you are working on at the top of your game—just like in nine-ball.

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