No celebrating until the deal is signed

In sales, its very easy to start celebrating the minute a deal is closed. In fact, celebration often starts once the verbal commitment is given. But, if there is one thing that experience in sales will teach you, is that you really can’t celebrate until the contract is signed – and furthermore – you really can’t celebrate until the cash is in the bank.

The past month has been an interesting one for two of my clients. For both of them, there were enough deals on the one yard line that the odds seemed very likely that the goal would be hit, yet so many of the deals got pushed into May that both missed the mark.   Its worth noting that nearly all the deals are still in play.  All that failed was creating enough urgency that the deals were able to close at the end of April. 

In at least half of the instances, the objectives were very clearly outlined..

“Fred, if I give you this deal, will you get us a signature before the end of the month?”
“Mark, I can certainly have this done before the end of the month and really want to.”
“Great, so is there anything that would stop this getting signed and implemented?”
“No, Mark. I’ve read the contract and it all looks great. I’m bringing it in for signature tomorrow.”
“Thanks Fred, looking forward to doing business with you.”

and then…. total silence. No return phone calls, no indication of good or bad, no contract. 

So what happened?  Well, clearly there was an obstacle/objection that was not known, and the urgency that was created wasn’t enough to move the needle.  Perhaps it wasn’t a fault of not asking – perhaps it was something that came up afterwards, but either way, it shows that even when your prospect tells you without a doubt that they will buy, and that the deal is done…. its not done, until the ink is on the paper – and the cash is in the bank.

For the most part, I believe the failure was in creating urgency to buy now.  End of the quarter is something that people understand and expect, and “end of April” pushes did not resonante as well.  For both clients, there are a lot of additional triggers that can be used, and in May it will clearly be to use those triggers to help get people to move rather than to just rely on “making our monthly number.”  In your own sales efforts, you need to find those things that will get people to want to close now rather than later.  Perhaps it is the lost revenue opportunity, or cost savings opportunity, or the summer sales rush, or free upgrade promotion, or something else.  The key to getting those May deals across the finish line in May and not in June – will be that specific urgency goal.

Its OK to enjoy a verbal commitment with a smile, but unless you’ve found that urgency, its not a done deal that you will get that deal done right away – and regardless of whatever deal you have made – they may expect that special pricing, or freebies – regardless of when it is signed.  So, just make sure that you don’t ring that gong until the contract and cash are in hand.