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  • Writer's pictureliatnetanel

“Pull a Jesse” - 3 Best Practices That Helped Me Close Deals During The Macro Environment

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

These are very challenging times and companies are reassessing their tool stacks. Working for a strong brand doesn’t necessarily make it easier. When a company has a decline in budget, we all have to build a business case that will justify the cost of our products. Or as a sales coach once told me: “lead with a strong value or go home”. So far, no news. I was nevertheless lucky to receive some ad hoc support from an experienced sales manager I work with, Jesse Cook, who helped me close deals despite the risk of churn. In this blog, I want to share three best practices that I have learned from Jesse.

“What is your budget?” Although sales reps are the persons who gain value from the product I sell, I find that most of my conversations are actually with IT, procurement and finance, as they hold the budget for software products and/or are the gatekeepers. Because of that, the discussion is usually about money, as they do not use the product and usually are not involved in the value each feature provides. Their aim is to push towards the lowest price possible while my goal is the opposite, and many times I don’t have flexibility with the prices as well. More often than not, I find myself rushing to suggest the pricing options without even knowing what budget was allocated for the contract. Asking deliberately about the budget makes me cringe but at the same time, it turns the discussion into a much more effective conversation as you can define the playground accordingly.

Define the playground Once you know what is your customer’s budget, you can define the playground borders. As I want to narrow down the areas of disagreement or debate, I thus define the playground we are “playing” in and explain the alternatives: X licenses is tier Y. If you grow to tier Y, you will pay Z dollars less for each license. Or, signing for one year is X dollars, however, signing for 2 or 3 years will grant you with a discount of Y dollars. I found that when the different options are clear, it is easier to identify where the gaps of expectation are, and then proceed to have a focused discussion on how to bridge them. Moreover, the budget that the customer told you is debatable is probably not the actual budget, but less. By suggesting pricing options that are more expensive but align with the customer’s goals (paying less for each license, securing a cheaper price for a longer period of time etc.), you can find yourself signing a larger deal with a higher price than the original budget that was declared.

Anchor with writing As in b2b sales, there are 6-8 people involved in each decision, you want to make sure that once you agree on something, you have it written down. I find it extremely effective to send a recap email right after the meeting. In the email, I ask the customer to confirm the budget they shared verbally during our call and I shortly present the different contact options. When things are in writing, it is easier to refer back to them later as they are part of the defined playground. Moreover, sometimes the person that you initially began the negotiation with won’t be the person who signs the contract, so when things are written down, it keeps everyone aligned.

Looking forward, here are my two cents

Since joining LinkedIn as an account manager, I am on a constant learning journey. Mastering complex negotiations will take time but adding these best practices to my toolkit pushed me 2 kilometers further. Beyond those best practices, I highly recommend surrounding yourself with professionals who are happy to share their knowledge and expertise. The bottom line, find yourself a Jesse.

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