How I Closed the Biggest Deal of My Life

27 years ago today, after a long, complex sales cycle, I closed the biggest, most important deal of my life. When the deal was negotiated, the buyer chose to make the acquisition. I never asked for the order; not once.

During the oil industry collapse of the early 80s, business took me to Houston quite often. My friend Celia suggested I call her friend Sally to have dinner on my next trip. A cordial dinner with someone 2,000 miles away was innocuous enough and more enjoyable than tireless arm-wrestling with stressed out executives.

Celia and Sally met in NY in the early 70s. Sally danced with the Joffrey Ballet before she became a professional makeup artist. Some months before we met, she exited a horrible marriage and was explicit about two things. She swore she would never live in NY and never marry again.

With nowhere else for the relationship to go, we became great friends. Telephone calls about crappy dates and new jokes, lunches and dinners, and long conversations over Irish coffee until managers begged us to leave.

She made a trip to NY and stayed mostly at Celia’s place on Fire Island. One night on an empty stomach at dinner, I had a few too many Long Island Ice Teas. I wasn’t falling down drunk, but I was not my very best either.

The next day after work, I brought roses to the beach. We sat quietly on the ferry as we crossed the bay. She never said a thing, not one word, like it never happened. I decided this was the woman for me, but she had made it very clear marriage was out, so I stood pat and she went home to Houston.

Never force a sale.

The following month, she moved from Houston back to Virginia with her family. Every other weekend I flew her up to NY on the shuttle and drove down most of the others. We had tons of fun together and became best friends.

One night, on the way to my mother’s house for dinner, she suggested moving up to N.Y.

“Great, but are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes I am, but what happens after I move up?”

The Unclose

The opportunity to close was on the table. I could have laid out my plans and painted a picture of us living happily ever after, but, whatever she chose, needed to be 100% her choice. So I asked, “What would you like to happen?

“I want to get married.”

“We can do that” I smiled.

It wasn’t a Jedi mind trick. I’m not a magical horse whisperer as many have called me. She had given me countless signs that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. I just made it easy and comfortable for her to choose.

Selling to resistance is way too much work for weak results and unhappy endings

Gary & Sally Live Happily Ever AfterObjections are unsolved problems or protection from fears. Pushing never attains the desired results. Help people work through solutions. That’s what trusted advisors do, how they earn business, and why their win rates are high

Always Be Listening. Listen to what people say, not what you want to hear. Use your ears and five other senses.

Be patient, be understanding, and support a difference of opinions.

The best deals are when all parties are happy.