Thursday, July 31, 2008

The art of closing a quarter

We're closing our quarter today and - as I sit on a conference call waiting for the client to finish debating changes with their lawyer - I am musing on what it takes to get all the business closed.

I asked the guys I am sitting with on this end what they've taken away as learnings this time ...

- Deadlines are a good way to get focused. As a small company quarters don't matter the way they do in a public company, but we treat them as if they do.
- Have your lawyers teed up and on call - you don't want to lose time finding them.
- The customer won't drive the deal, even if they want the system. You have to drive it and have the uncomfortable conversations early, testing price, determining their true level of interest.
- Have a CEO who is a utility player (!). We're working on a large contract where I needed to jump in and be conversant with all the contract terms and issues. I had to call the CEO of the other firm very early this morning and be able to discuss everything they wanted to see addressed.
- Beware of happy ears. These are sales people who don't want to hear the bad news behind a customers words and so forecast too optimistically - it's back to making sure the sales people are having those uncomfortable conversations.
- Don't schedule any other meetings on the last day of the quarter.

And most importantly - don't let up. Don't stop until you've got all the business in.

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