The sale is not closed until you got ink on a contract and money in the bank.

Oh how true this is.

A few years back when I still sold software, I had just about closed a nice sized deal with a half a billyun dollar software company in Silicon Valley named PeopleSoft.

“Just about” closed is not Closed though.

I had sold the deal, I had got all the decision-makers bought off on the deal, I had two signed purchase-orders for this deal, and I was just about to fax the POs into my HQ when I got the phone call…

The phone call was from the Chief Information Officer – The Decision Maker (or so I thought) – who was a pretty big cheese at Peoplesoft. He said that I needed to hold off on submitting the Purchase Orders to my HQ.

I was in stunned.

I thought I had closed this deal.

He told me that he had spoken with his CFO, and that the CFO wanted to know why they were buying from my little no-name company, and why they weren’t buying from another software company that PeopleSoft had an investment stake in that provided the same software as my company did.

The CIO told me that he thought that he could still get my deal through, but that we would have to have a couple more meetings with some new decision-makers to get this done.

I had to start selling this deal all over again.

I should have seen this coming though.

I knew that PeopleSoft had an investment stake in this other company. And I did ask why they weren’t buying from them. I was given a number of reasons as to why they felt this other company’s software was not the right fit for them.

But I also knew that PeopleSoft’s corporate culture was such that they didn’t want to force decisions from top down onto department heads.

So I reluctantly changed my forecast for this deal from 90% to 50%.

I was paranoid. I had to be.

I met again with my CIO. I strategized with him as best as I could. He was helpful, but tried to play neutral being the good political player that he was.

And then I had a big meeting with the CIO, the CFO, and a few other muck-mucks. My team put on a good presentation. We asked pointed questions of each of these top decision-makers.

And a few days later, the CIO called me back and told me to go ahead and submit the Purchase Orders. I had closed the deal!

Jack Welch once said…

When it comes to peering into the future, you just canít be paranoid enough.

I totally agree.

Until you got ink and money in the bank, you haven’t closed the sale.

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus Brown

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