Time Kills Deals, but Timing Creates OpportunityAugust 16, 2017 | By Wayne O'Neill
There’s a popular phrase in business development that I want to tackle today. It goes like this:
Time kills deals.
I call it a cliché carefully, because there is some important and fundamental truth to it.
When a project starts to drag, it’s a sign that things are going sideways and the deal is going to fail. You see, time is the most valuable commodity anyone has. When it gets wasted, it’s never a good thing.
When a project is dragging and not moving forward, act now. The more time that goes into it — the more time that’s wasted — the less likely the project will reach completion.
You, as the firm trying to grow a relationship with a client, are responsible for managing the context of what goes on in that relationship. That is, keeping tabs on what’s going on with your client, their organization, their customers and their industry. You’re also responsible for maintaining the energy — the pacing — of that relationship. When a project starts to lag, it’s your responsibility to figure out why and to fix it.
So let’s spin the cliché on its head a bit and dig into the lessons here.
Time kills deals …
but timing creates deals.
You, as the firm, are responsible for the context and the energy of every project — and to use timing to your advantage, you have to maintain them both. Here’s how.
Project Manage the Context
The number one thing you need to keep tabs on, besides ensuring the project is actually getting done on your side, is what’s going on with your client.
I talk a lot about learning a client’s business and political issues when you’re pursuing a project — but this activity should never end. You should always have your finger on the pulse of your client and know what’s going on in their organization, and what’s impacting them from inside and from the outside.
One smart way to do this is to leverage project delivery partners who keep you in touch with the context. These partners connect you, directly or indirectly to decision-makers and champions, and can give you insight you might not otherwise have easy access to.
Your client’s business and political issues are going to impact the project and the relationship. Know what they are at all times! That way you can plan the timing of your project and your communications to the best advantage.
Maintain High Energy
You are responsible for the pacing of the project, and that includes the energy involved in connecting with your clients throughout the relationship.
Often when a project drags, it’s because you’re not talking to the right person. Elevate your connection with the client to the highest possible level. The people at the top — executives, trustees — are most acutely feeling the business and political issues. They’re the ones that can most effectively help you understand what the real issue is.
Other times, projects go stale and deals end because emotions are high or the relationships are troubled. Once again, this is an opportunity to leverage your project delivery partners to understand the full scope of the issues and smooth the path to the deal.
Don’t let time go by. If a project is dragging, don’t wait and see what happens. Find out why — and get the deal back on the fast track, fast.
The Bottom Line
Time kills deals. But timing is your ally when you know how to use it to your advantage.
Time is the most valuable commodity anyone has. Manage the context and energy of the relationship, and you’ll protect everyone’s time while keeping the project on track to success.