Your prospects will push deals into the future. No matter how well you control the process, and no matter how much you wish things to be different, you aren’t going to close every on or before the date you projected. Sure some deals will push due to poor salesmanship or unforced errors, but as many will get pushed forward because February is as good as January, and March is as good as February (not that you shouldn’t work to make sooner better than later).
Some deals get pushed forward because of Black Swans, events you can’t easily forecast but are easy to explain away as if you could have done something after the fact.
Your primary contact, your champion, takes a new job three weeks before they are scheduled to sign your contract. It’s tempting to believe that having another well-placed contact might have kept the deal alive, and maybe it would have. However, it’s also entirely possible that your champion was the single person that cared enough to shepherd the initiative through their organization.
The dream client account you have worked on for seven years is finally at the table, and you are days away from the deal you have sweat over for months. Without any warning, the company’s largest competitor purchases them and places all initiatives on hold indefinitely. There was no warning, and you received no notice.
Senior leadership decided that another project is more important to their future success than yours and shifted the budget to a different initiative. You have a member of executive leadership engaged in the opportunity, but they were unwilling to spend their political capital on your initiative. Your deal is pushed forward into the future, and one that is uncertain.
The Only Defense is Offense
There are some who would tell you that you could have done something different and prevented the deal from pushing, but that overstates your influence by some significant factor. There is never a reason not to try, and giving up does nothing to benefit you or the client. Which leaves us here . . .
The only way to ensure you make your number is to have enough deals to be able to survive the inevitable Black Swans that occur in some percentage of all opportunities. A pipeline is the only thing that can inoculate you. If one deal pushing is enough for you to miss your goal, you need to create more opportunities.
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