So often we think the sale is in the hands of the customer. Of course they have the ultimate say, as they are the ones doing the purchasing. But we often underestimate our potential for dramatically influencing the sale. You won’t believe what one salesperson did at Oracle in its early days to win the biggest sale of his career.
This story was told to me by Adam Slovik, a partner at Select VP, one of our investors here at Consensus. Adam was an early employee at Oracle when it was a young startup in hyper growth mode, competing with much bigger players.
The sale was in the tens of millions of dollars to a large university in the United States. There were three decision makers. They had agreed that because the decision would impact every member of staff at the university they would need to have unanimous consensus to make a final decision (see my article on building consensus in the buying panel).
Two of the three wanted Oracle. But the last one not only didn’t want Oracle, she wanted anything BUT Oracle. After several attempts to win her over, the salesperson knew they would not be able to close this deal with her on that buying panel. Most salespeople would eventually move on, considering this an impasse. Not this guy.
This salesperson called a recruiter and paid their fees to have them try to recruit this person away from the university to a better position. The recruiter succeeded, and the third member of the buying panel left the university for another job. They replaced her with someone else who they were able to win to their side and they closed the deal.
Now that is avoiding the victim mentality and taking control of the sale, if I’ve ever heard of it. There is usually more that we can do to influence the sale than we want to admit. It’s often the hard, difficult, perhaps not repeatable thing that can make the difference. When the deal is worth it, do whatever it takes to take control of the sale.