How To Bring Home a Jumbo Jet
So what is a jumbo deal?
Would you rather close 10 deals or 1 jumbo deal? A jumbo deal is a piece of new business that can change the trajectory of a company or take it to the next level. It’s the kind of deal that most businesses dream about. You cannot become a big company without closing jumbo deals. A jumbo deal is not necessarily the same thing for all businesses. What can change the fortune of a 10 person firm wouldn’t get a second look at a large 1000 person advisory. The purpose of this post is to help you think about what it's like to close and sign bigger deals than what you’re used to.
So, how do you actually bring home a jumbo deal?
It’s very rare to close a jumbo deal straight away. Pretty much every single large deal I’ve been involved in started with a pilot or taking on the product in a small part of the business.
We’ll go into how below.
Why should we concentrate on closing a jumbo deal over 10 smaller deals?
Well, look, if you can close 10 regular deals then great. And you should. As I mentioned, it’s almost impossible to close a jumbo deal without first getting a regular deal in for that business.
Perhaps it’s a jumbo deal that comes from a deal you already have where they get acquired by a larger company.
What makes it different from a regular deal?
One of the mistakes salespeople make when they start getting involved in bigger deals than they’re accustomed to is being too dependent on too few stakeholders. In a smaller deal, you might be able to get away with influencing one of two stakeholders but as the deal sizes get bigger, you need to increase your reach.
Using your product or services could affect 10 / 20 / 100 or sometimes more people and they’ll all have an opinion on the best way to manage their problem. You can’t always do this on your own and this is where you need the help of your marketing colleagues. What I’ve seen in my experience is that too many firms have sales and marketing working in silos. Marketing will act as a lead generation machine then they’ll hand it over to the salesperson.
You can think of it as emergency support. Supporting the acquisition of the customer from afar. Dropping valuable information to the right people in the business.
You need really good messaging from marketing and that needs to be made up of engaging content so things as videos, blog posts, reference sites, and making sure it gets to where it needs to go by social selling and IP tracking. This is a huge ecosystem and it needs to be influenced to drive the deal forward.
It’s not just sales and marketing that need to work together. You need the whole business on board. Product Management, finance, development, support, IT, compliance. Everyone.
The value proposition of your business needs to be reinforced over and over again. These are quite repetitive tasks and too much for one salesperson and that’s why the messaging from marketing needs to be regular and consistent and as wide as possible.
Part of the salesperson job here which is different on a jumbo deal to a regular deal is the orchestration of the entire firm. You’re responsible for managing this relationship.
How can marketing help?
Marketing and sales will coordinate in a greater way. Creation and distribution of personalised content in a quickly and easily digestible format i.e. long and short-form video.
It’s also really important to refine the messaging that comes out of the business. People’s attention span is reducing so it's important to get your point across quickly. You have something like half a second to get someone to want to read or watch more so make sure your value proposition is clear and strong.
How do you find and recognise a jumbo deal?
Like we’ve already spoken about how almost all jumbo deals come from a regular deal. You can even call it land and expand. Once you gain the confidence and trust of your customer, you are more likely to expand into other areas of the business.
How do you qualify a jumbo deal?
Sales is a numbers game, right?. So, the more you fill your pipeline with opportunities, the greater the chance that you get a deal. That’s how most people in consultative and transactional sales see the world.
When you’re working on jumbo deals, life is a little different. Most salespeople I know absolutely hate taking things out of their pipeline. I was exactly the same.
There’s always a chance it’ll come in, right? That’s what I used to tell myself anyway.
The absolute elite that do the biggest deals are constantly trying to get things out of their pipeline. Let me explain. Jumbo deals are rare and we all know that right. So they’re constantly looking for reasons to disqualify.
They actually go for fewer deals in order to increase the chances and likelihood of closing the ones they are working on. So put yourself in a disqualification mindset. What you’re looking for is a trigger to say “you know what, there’s an opportunity here” rather than waiting for someone to come and say “hey this is great let’s move forward, I’d like to buy your product”.
You do that by aligning your product and messaging with their key initiatives.
How do you align your product with their key initiatives?
If what you’re trying to sell does not align and support the buyer in achieving one of their key strategic priorities, the deal won’t happen. It can be as simple as that I’m afraid. Because it’s those key business initiatives where the funds and business resources are going to be invested. Understanding the business and asking the right questions in order to get a good handle and put yourself in a position to influence these key strategic priorities is very important.
If you’re not there or find that your product doesn’t meet those requirements — eject yourself and move on.
What about messaging?
One of the absolute basics in sales is to sell on benefits and not features but all too often I see marketing campaigns talking about how good the product is and their cool new features. And, this is an absolute no-no for all consultative style selling — especially the jumbo deals we’re talking about.
The problem with this is two-fold.
- You’re not differentiating yourself from everyone else doing and saying exactly the same thing.
- So what happens next is the buyer can’t see the difference between your products and that of someone else’s so the differential ends up being price. So even if you do pick up the business you’re likely to be taking a massive hit on margins and of course profit.
The businesses and salespeople that do this best will follow a completely different framework.
So typically, messaging gets a prospect from A to B to C.
A — I don’t know who you are
B — I’m listening and engaged to you and what you have to say
C — I’m ready to buy
When a salesperson gets to C, they think they’ve won. That’s what they’re aiming for.
But we’ve all had deals at C that have gone south. Myself included.
We need a D. And that D is — I want to sign.
When a jumbo dealer gets to C, what they do is start to look at the macro environment. They’ll go in and start educating, challenging and entertaining their prospect. They will get an understanding of what change is going on and why a change is needed. If you haven’t done this and they don’t know why they need to change, why would they bother doing something different?
Once your client recognises a need to make a change and the pains that are driving that change, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to buy from you, does it? They now have a heap of choices to make and things to consider that we’re there before.
This is where your content creation comes in. Once the customer recognises that they need to make a change, providing them with content around change drivers and the pains they’re facing without even talking about you and your business will help them through their journey towards you and your product as a solution that you’re offering to solve their pain.
But in order to get to D, what we need to think about and focus on is risk mitigation. This is where many prospective clients start dithering. They think about what might happen if they get this large investment wrong. “What if this is a disaster and I get fired?” You need to build trust. There’s an old saying that “nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft” and that’s true. Because Microsoft is a company you can trust. But what if you’re a small business or just starting out? The right messaging can help build that trust.
This will be a huge investment for them so the potential risks are likely to be huge and that’s what’s going through their mind and this is what derails so many deals. If you’re buying a house for example, the closer it gets to completion, the more details you want to know about the house. What are the neighbours like? Are they going to make your life a nightmare?
So how do you try to mitigate those risks?
We go back to messaging. From you and your company. It needs to be much more about referrals, how to’s etc. And if you do this really well, it diverts the conversation away from you being a vendor and much more about driving thought leadership around their decision journey and why they should go down that journey with you and ultimately buy from you.
So what kind of content are we talking about?
First of all, some video content outlining some of the problems or changes in the marketplace or industry. Towards the end of the process — the C to D phase, it’s much more bespoke so things like personalised reports, coming onsite, and consulting.
This probably sounds like a lot of work and to be fair it probably is. But you can reuse some of the content for other large or jumbo deals that you’re working on. Many of the customers you’ll be speaking to will have the same, or at least similar, problems. Of course, you’ll need to refine everything for the specific customer it’s going to. But at least it’s not starting again for each specific customer you speak to.
One of the important differences between a jumbo deal and a midsize deal is the circle of influencers that you have to engage. On a jumbo deal, it can be huge as we said earlier, and the other thing is, it’s constantly expanding.
Because of this, it’s really important to nail your message early. If you’re talking to a company with 3 or 4 different arms, the messaging will need to be appropriate for each one. And once you’ve decided what your messaging is and you’re happy with it, it’s then you turn it into content to start targeting the different stakeholders.
The jumbo deal you’re working on will come in because you’ve nailed the touchpoints, physically or digitally, by using different distribution tactics.
What else do we need to think about?
The way you enter a deal is really important. A mistake I have made and I see many other people make is to pick someone and spend too long with that person. So you might feel that the CFO is leading the conversation with the client so they become your gatekeeper. They’re friendly, they take your calls so you always go to them and you rely on them to sell internally for you. But that CFO is a CFO for a reason. He or she is great with numbers but is very unlikely to be a capable salesperson. So as soon as an objection comes up internally in a conversation you’re not involved in, that they can’t address, you’re screwed.
The other thing is if they’re acting as the gatekeeper and then all of a sudden you try and contact someone else in the business, they might feel that you’re purposely going around them and get defensive or you lose their trust.. This stuff happens and I’ve seen it screw up so many deals.
It’s important to address this early to stop this from happening. So my advice would be to map out the ecosystem. So put that together with an arrow of influence. There might be 20 people on there and you should group them together and between you and your team, engage and talk to all of them at the same time. This way, you’re building relationships early and simultaneously.
This stuff I’ve talked about doesn’t stop once you’ve got that signature either. Buyers remorse is a thing. Whenever people make a significant investment in something they’ll spend days thinking about whether it was the right thing to do. Imagine spending £90k on a new Porsche and you’re sat there quite smug but thinking to yourself “what will my wife say?” That’s why companies like that, who do this really well, are so active after you’ve walked away with the car.
To sum up:
- Disqualify as much as possible
- When you find a business that’s the right fit, double down.
- Think about your messaging
- Tailor it to the business, department, and person
- Make sure your whole company is engaged and the marketing department know what to send out
- Get your messaging right
- Engage as many of the stakeholders as possible and as early as possible
- Don’t think you’re in the clear just because you have a signature
Let me know what you think, do you have a story or an anecdote about how a deal went wrong?