Connecting with key decision makers is crucial to any deal. Let me tell you what I mean.
Early in my career, I worked for a leading global professional services company and we were going after a big deal. I’m talking about a deal worth nearly $2 billion. This size of deal takes a while to close, and I worked on it for nearly eight months. It was exhausting work, but we were one of two finalists, so I’m thinking we have a great chance to win this.
The deal came down to the final presentations, and we absolutely nailed it. We were working with the COO of the organization and he was a thinker, so we designed our entire presentation around it. The CEO sat in on the presentation, and we went through it step-by-step. The CEO never asked a single question but he was looking through our proposal. We left feeling good.
We lost the deal.
But that’s only part of the story. Fast forward six months. We had a candidate interviewing for a partner position and I had the opportunity to talk to him. Turns out, he was on the winning team of the deal we lost. Of course, I immediately asked him what he was doing here so soon after winning such a big contract. The candidate said his team couldn’t get the project off the ground. They didn’t understand how to do anything, they just sold it to the CEO.
The point I’m trying to make is, we lost a major deal because we didn’t do a good job connecting with the CEO, who was the main decision maker. At the end of the day, connecting with executives matter – it’s the difference between winning and losing in most instances.
When you understand the decision making style of the top executives, you know when to present your information, the amount of detail you need to include, the order in which to present your proposal and what format you must use to tell your story.
This is important. Our research shows almost 80 percent of all presentations are targeted to skeptics and controllers but they only represent just 25 percent of executive decision makers. You should focus on charismatics, thinkers and followers.
At the end of the day, it’s not about your style – it’s about theirs. Don’t get boxed in by your own way of doing things – adapt to theirs. Don’t put your presentation together based on what you’re good at – based it on the chief decision makers. When you do, your win rates are likely to skyrocket.