When the Oracle of Omaha puts together a deal, it usually happens fast, just like the deal he made for purchasing Nebraska Furniture Mart. The 89-year-old Rose Blumkin who owns and founded the company told Warren Buffett that she no longer wanted a fight with her children in regards to running the company, and she also wanted to slow down. “Rose, I’ve always told you that when you are ready to sell, I would buy. What’s your price?” Replied Buffett.
Within an hour’s time, he and Rose shook hands on the deal and he also gave her a check that he wrote for $55 million, as she requested. There were no lawyers, no fuss and no muss – and both parties got what they wanted in an excellent deal.
Since Warren Buffett is so successful at making deals, to authors by the name of Henry DeVries and Tom Searcy thought it would be a good idea to share Warren’s Buffett’s approach would salespeople. “If you want to know about making big deals, Warren is still the guy to watch,” they shared with us in their book How to Close a Deal like Warren Buffett.
The main thing is you need to know the other person’s money. Warren Buffett understands how a company makes money, and he also knows how a company will spend it. Salespeople are often too busy trying to sell their products and services, but they forget to focus on helping improve the numbers of any company they are pursuing.
Tom Searcy and Henry DeVries recommended process that they named “the triples” which should help improve the salesmanship of your service or product.
Triple #1 – The Three Problems of Your Prospect
The first thing you need to do is find out and write down the three biggest issues that your prospect will face. Then you need to determine how your service or product is going to help them. This puts you in alignment with the interests of your buyer.
Triple #2 – The Three-Part Solution
Now you have to carefully think about how you are going to be able to solve their three problems. As you write out a plan to present your client, try and avoid any type of generic language like using the words “better,” “improved,” and “big difference” because this language really isn’t all that compelling. You need to provide them with specific numbers and mentioned specific points of pressure in which you focus so that you can prove you’ll be able to help them achieve a new outcome that’s desirable.
Triple #3 – Provide Three References
with this third step, you are going to provide your potential client with three references who have achieved the results that your client is trying to achieve by using your service or product. This might be difficult because of client confidentiality and potential competitiveness. But you need to figure it out because “the most effective way to get the attention of prospects is to drop the names of others just like them.”
In the book, the authors implore you to become a student of psychology. They believe you should develop profiles of the members of the people on your prospects team. Try and figure out their fears, because this will help you create a compelling pitch. You also need to figure out each person’s point of view in regards to your solution, and come up with any other trait that might be important to your overall success. You also need to study the dynamics of the team, and figure out where people stand and who were the higher-ups on the chain of command.
You’re also going to have to contend with a dangerous person known as “the eel.” Both of the authors insist that “in every deal, and at every prospects table, there is always an eel – a person who is against the deal. Always. Eels have a tendency to hang out in the shadows. They are hard to get to, and they usually talk you down when you’re not around.”
Eels are usually driven by fear, and it is a fear which they do not want to acknowledge, so they insist that they are not with this deal based on principles. They are very dangerous to you, and you need to figure out who they are quickly. You can then try and co-opt them, so that you can take the ideas of the eel and add them into your proposal.
If that doesn’t work, then the other possibility you have is to contain the eel. Concede all of this person’s small issues, and focus the main conversation onto the bigger issues, where the influence that they have might not be that significant. You could also attempt to divert the eel’s attention to another issue that has nothing to do with your deal.
When you prepare your final proposal and presentation, it’s important that you include something for all parties involved in this deal. The finance people as an example are going to want to know all of the numbers.
“Everybody who reads your solution is looking for something aimed at her. Not only does she want to see that it’s in your solution, but she also wants to see it the way she wants to see it… It’s not enough that this particular material is in your solution. You are responsible for making it pop off the page for the person who is looking for it,” write the authors.
This is an excellent book on some levels, and it’s a woeful book on other levels. The connection between salespeople and Warren Buffett is actually quite tenuous at times. A reader is at risk to intellectual whiplash as they go from the opening portion and read aspects of Mister Buffett’s dealmaking, and then jump over to the selling portion which often has tangential advice.
What saves this particular book is that the authors provide useful and unique tips about the sales process. This could very well help you in your next deal, whether or not it is a non-Buffett like deal.