You have no control over whether the CEO you have been working with on a deal leaves the company to start a new venture of their own the week they were supposed to sign your contract. Nor do you have any control over the fact that the rest of the CEO’s team decides to wait for the new CEO to make the final decision. You may have done everything right up to this point and still end up with a deal that is at risk.
Your main contact is the CEO of the Problem you have been working on together, and she is taking your proposal to the Board of Directors for final approval, expecting that the signature is a formality. Neither of you have any idea that one of the board members has a personal and professional relationship with your competitor and that he is going to ask her to meet with them before the Board makes a decision.
The company that you have been working on for just over three years is growing fast and capturing market share. They’re getting a lot of attention, including yours. The deal that you have been working on will help them accelerate their growth even more, and everyone believes it is the right next step. Your contacts were just notified that the company is being purchased and that they should not make any significant decisions or spend money now.
Then, there is this: “We’ve had a change in priorities. We aren’t going to do anything here this year.”
This list could on for a long time. There are innumerable variations of “deal killers” that, despite your very best efforts, can derail your deal—and your goals. Because this is true, the best thing you can do to prevent missing your goals is to hedge, to have enough deals that the loss of one deal doesn’t prevent you from reaching them. The bigger the deal you are working on, the greater your need to hedge.
There is part of selling that is opportunity capture, doing the work to win new opportunities. This is the part most salespeople love. There is another part, however, that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves, nor does it command enough time and energy, and that is opportunity creation. This is the part that starts with prospecting.
Because there are downside risks that are unavoidable, protecting yourself from the hand of fate requires the hedge that is creating enough opportunities to offset your risks.