One Significant Figure

I was reminded the other day about my attitude to financial deal size. In their baby steps most cubreps I guess could easily get distracted by the “whale of a deal” on their forecast. It’s an affliction that can strangle many a more experienced salesperson too.

I remember when I got going in the very early days that I was happily unburdened by any such bedazzlement. The chief reason was that I was so keen to win deals that I jettisoned any thought about their size and simply went after each and every one in a similar vein.

Colleagues, much older of course, were chasing megabucks wins. Yet in my junior role I pulled in more new business deals than anyone ever had before. And a couple ended up quite sizeable too. So I was proud of my efforts and considered it all a fine grounding and setting me off on the right trajectory.

I started to see the negative impact that the weight of a big deal on someone’s shoulder could be too.

So I began to think of deals in terms of factors that ignored the cash amount. Naturally, these still portrayed some notion of deal size by association, but left the true figure hanging in the air.

In tandem, I formulised the view that all deals were simply valued at one single figure. They just had a different number of zeroes after it.

And that philosophy has stood me in fine stead since.

Appropriate qualification should mean any deal you pursue is worthy. So in that case, why not treat them all with equal respect?

One leader of a new business team I spoke with recently recounted talking to guys doing “the small 5m deals” and how he used to think “wow this is hard, they ask so many more questions than the guys I talk to about 100m deals”.

Many years ago my friend was closing a huge £25m outsourcing deal and we joked how a tiddler of a couple of grander add-on I’d spent some time on was causing me more grief than he was getting from the seven signatories he sought. On a deal that was a staggering twelve thousand, five hundred times larger than mine.

Can it possibly be true that there’s an inverse relationship between deal size and hassle?

I also thought of the time when a tax inspector was viewing a £30m set of books. He was more concerned with whether chocolate biscuits were eaten around the Board table because then they’d be able to claim tax back on them than anything else. A clue that forensic success cannot be side-tracked by telephone numbers.

In short, don’t get blinded by monetary deal size. They’re all just one digit, followed by a random length of zeros.

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