The Untenable Strategy That Is the Must Win Deal

You wouldn’t walk into a Las Vegas casino and take all of the commission you will make in the next twelve months and bet it on single hand of black jack, would you? What if I allowed you to deal the cards?

You wouldn’t go to a horse race and bet your next year’s earnings on a single horse in a single race, would you? What if I allowed you to be the jockey?

These ideas sound crazy to you because you have no control over the outcome of either one of these bets. Even when I modify the bet and give you the appearance of control, you still recognize the fact that bet is careless, dangerous, and stupid.

Why then would you put all of your chips on the single deal that you are working? Why turn the big deal prospect you are moving through the pipeline into a do-or-die, must-win deal?

You Have Influence, Not Control

Too often we’re excited by a big, quota-crushing deal with a dream client. We get so excited that we think about that deal, talk about that deal, and work on that deal to the detriment of all else—especially prospecting and building other opportunities.

Sometimes we win these deals and things work out well. But sometimes we lose these opportunities, even when it appears as if we are certain to win, and even when we’ve done everything right. We count our proverbial chickens before they hatch. And by believing we are certain to win to the detriment of all else, we turn a great opportunity into a must-win opportunity.

It’s important to remember that in sales, you have influence over the decision your dream client makes, not control. Ultimately, your dream client will have their caucus and they will choose their partner. Even if you do everything right, and even if you are clearly the right choice, you can have this decision go against you. And when it does, you cannot afford to be in the position of having bet the house on that deal.

If making your number means that you must win that one big opportunity, you are making a common mistake you will pay for later, even if you have been lucky enough to win before.

Protect the Number

For those who are willing to face the truth, it’s rare that the big deal in your pipeline consumes all of your sales time, even though it may consume your attention. The truth is that you have long periods between activities and not all that much work or prep work between events. Admit it; there’s some work, but not that much.

You protect your number by not making a single bet on a single outcome that is out of your control (as anyone who has suffered this misfortune will attest).

Instead, you continue to prospect. You continue to build a pipeline of opportunities. You continue to create new opportunities in your existing client accounts. You continue nurturing the relationships you need to open new opportunities in the coldest of prospects. Instead of counting on that single, must-win deal, you continue to sell.


Have you ever lost a big deal that you were counting on winning?

Have you lost a big deal that you needed in order to make your number?

Why do we tend to put the brakes on prospecting when we have a big, quota-crushing deal in our pipeline?

How much time does the big deal you are working really consume, if you are being honest with yourself?

How do you protect yourself from being put in the position where you must win a certain deal to succeed?

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Filed under: Sales

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