A Painfully Real Narrative, How Could it Have Been Avoided?


I’m on the first flight to San Jose  and, if all goes well, I’m in Los Gatos for lunch with a major video streaming company.  We’ve been working with a VP there for six months – the expectation is that today we’ll get the green light on core routers in the data center, $1.5M.  We need the booking to make stretch for Q2.  It’s a healthy transaction and ours to win or lose.

It’s a typical sunny day in NorCal – an on time pick up, our SE, Daniel, and manufacturer’s Rep, Karl, together we’re converging on the company cafeteria.  My Rep, Jeremy, explains that we’re good to go, mere formalities as all the heavy lifting has been done.  Just enjoy lunch…

It’s 4 against 1, we’re prepped and ready – Tom, VP Infrastructure, greets us and guides us through our many gourmet, gluten-free, healthy choices and now we sit.  After pleasantries are exchanged, Jeremy takes the lead:

Jeremy, Rep: “Tom, thanks for making the time today.  We’re excited to move forward with the data center project and we’re here today to cover any remaining issues – are we on track to process the PO this week?”

Tom, VP Infrastructure: “Jeremy, I need to make you aware that due to a recent security breach, my priorities have changed and the data center project is now on the back burner.”

Daniel, SE: “What type of breach?  When did it happen? Did it impact credit card data? Was it Apple UDIDs or related to the Nationwide Insurance PII breach?”

Karl, Mfg. Rep: “Not sure if you’re aware that our founders built their first router with firewall capability…”

Jeremy, Rep: “When did this happen?”

Tom: “Gotta go Guys – Let’s talk toward the end of the month to see where we go from here…”

A painful reality for me – does it sound similar to an experience that you’ve had?  Most of us have encountered something like this and I
do not want to suggest that we can overcome circumstances outside of our control.  My point is that we can reduce the risk of deals going sideways through better planning.  Monday morning quarterbacks are always right. An objective understanding of where you stand in a given project at any point in time is easy – identifying your strengths and weaknesses is essential to increase your odds of winning.

A Mutual Plan updated after every step in the campaign builds momentum and confirms “Why” the initiative is a priority.  It also maintains alignment on the project outcome so that as distractions occur, and they will, your objective remains clear. Here’s a suggestion of what might have  happened if we were better prepared:

Jeremy, Rep: “That is unfortunate and I understand the priority shift. So, has your SVP changed the metric on customer retention or the push for new subscribers this quarter?”

Tom, VP Infrastructure: “Absolutely not – my whole department is still on the hook for those targets.”

In the event that your sales campaign is disrupted, understanding the Business Issue for your Key Stakeholder is critical, allowing you to course correct.  And. if your Team (Executive, Manufacturing Rep., SE, etc.) understands the “play,” your chances of success are greater and your ability to expand the opportunity increases.

Daniel, SE: “Can you share what data was compromised?”

Tom, VP Infrastructure: “We’re in the midst of investigating and preliminary assessment is that some customer PII data is exposed”

Daniel, SE:  “What areas of weakness have you identified in the infrastructure?” (OPEN Question)

This is just one example of how we can continually leverage the ValueSelling Framework to Prepare, Execute, Follow-up and Inspect, even when unexpected surprises pop up.

Good Selling!

As a Vice President of Visualize, Gerard helps organizations improve business metrics by creating a better connection with their customer’s definition of value. He is focused on refining his client’s selling approach & their ability to differentiate – to drive increased revenues, market share and profitability.