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One of the Devils in Your Deals: What You Believe You Know

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
August 2, 2010

alt text for a devil breaking through white spaceYour deals are full of devils. The devils are the things that can cause you to lose. There is a whole catalogue of these devils, some of whom you are already well acquainted, and some of whom you may not recognize at all. The biggest devil of all, Beelzebub, if you will, is the devil called “what you believe you know.”

The Devil in What You Believe You Know About Their Needs

You met with one of the C-level executives at your dream client’s place one time. You discovered his dissatisfaction and you understand it and the implications of not changing. Maybe he had his purchasing people send you an RFP. Or maybe you decided you knew enough to present your solutions.

Now you are in the boardroom to present and you are looking out a group of faces you have never seen. Worse still, they have never seen you. You are a complete unknown, and yet here you are with your big ideas and your solutions, not having spent a single minute with the people who actually have the problems that need to be resolved.

Is it a form of arrogance that would allow you to be so bold as to present without having discovered your dream client’s vision of what the right solution would look like?  Have you simply looked at your client through the same lens you look at every problem, namely through the lens of your solutions? Did you work your way three levels down and get a little dirt under your fingernails as you worked to understand the real source of their dissatisfaction? Do you understand the company culture and the ground truth well enough to manage the change initiative you are proposing?

The devil in you deal is that you believe you know what your client wants, that you understand their vision, before you actually do the heavy-lifting to truly understand. This is a very unsympathetic devil, and he will wreak havoc on your deal—if you let him.

To beat this devil it is necessary to make sure you truly understand your dream client’s needs, making no assumptions, and digging deep to make sure you have captured the truth.

The Devil in What You Believe You Know About Your Competition

This is a dangerous devil. Really dangerous. This is the devil that lives in your deal that tells you that your competitors are behaving exactly like you are.

You are having trouble gaining access to the information you need to create your best solution; so you believe that your competitor is having trouble gaining the same information.

You are having trouble gaining access to the decision-influencers you need to garner the support you need for your deal. You know your competitor must be having the very same trouble.

Your power sponsor has been very nice, and very accommodating. He has shared his thoughts and his beliefs with you, helping to ensure what you propose is going to win the deal. He really, really likes you. You know that there is no way that your competitors have that same relationship . . . least of all with the same power sponsor.

You believe that if you ask for what you really need to both win the deal and succeed for your client after you win, you will alienate your dream client and it will cost your deal. You know that your competitors know this, too: they wouldn’t dare ask.

The truth is, you competitor may be taking the actions that you are afraid to take. The truth is that they may have asked for and received what you haven’t asked for or haven’t been given. They may also have developed the relationships that you haven’t developed.

The devil in you deal tells you that there is a level playing field, when the truth is that the deck is being stacked. It’s up to the choices that you make to determine whether or not the deck is being stacked in your favor.

To beat this devil you have to ask for what you need to win the deal and what you need to succeed should you win the deal. You cannot allow yourself to believe that your competitors are suffering from the same lack of information or access that you are, and you have to believe instead that they are brave enough and professional enough to get what they need to win.


The devils in your deals are ruthless. They will disrupt your deals and ruin your chances of winning given even the smallest of openings. The worst of which is the devil of believing you know something that you don’t know.


    1. What is it you believe about your dream client’s needs? Why do you believe what it is that you believe? Is it something that you have done the hard work and the heavy lifting to really know, or are you making broad assumptions that may not be true?

    1. How do you know that what you believe about the right solution for your dream client matches their vision of what the right solution should be? Have you worked long enough and dug deep enough to really know what their vision is, including the decision-influencer who may have limited authority? How about the buying committee member’s visions?

    1. How much of your actions are limited by what you perceive to be a level playing field? Do you believe that because you can’t have what you want that your competitors haven’t done a better job selling their way into greater access, greater information, or greater influence?

  1. Why do you believe that your competitor acts like you? What behaviors would you change, what actions would you take, if you knew your competitors had already taken that action and been given what they asked for? What action might your competitor take that would give them an unfair advantage if they were to obtain what they wanted? Why aren’t you taking that action now? (just asking . . . )

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 2, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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