Business development is all about three things -- relationships, value and timing. Today, we're going to discuss timing.
Deals have their own pace. To bring one to life, you have to figure out what that pace is, and match it. If you try to push it faster, you're going to alienate the person on the other side of the table. If you're too slow, or unresponsive, you're going to have the same result. The trick is to get it right.
There aren't any hard-and-fast rules for this. A lot of it is instinct, judgment and experience. That being said, however, almost everyone can figure out how fast to try to go. You simply have to pay attention, and more importantly, get your own ego out of the way. The deal is not about what you want. It's about what your opposite number wants, and whether/how what you're offering can deliver it. They're going to work at their own pace, and in their own way.
An example: I have been working on a large project that's been incubating for six months. The company we're in discussions with moves very slowly, very deliberately. They build consensus, and they're in a conservative industry. This project would be a big step forward for them, and would involve business models that are new to them.
Trying to get them to move quickly would be a mistake. It would also probably be impossible. However, it's also very possible for this project to sit and collect dust until it was institutionally forgotten. We need to gently remind them that we're out here without pushing them.
The solution? We're going to offer them some help. Because the technology and the business model at issue are new, and unfamiliar to them, they 're almost certainly having some challenges in analyzing the potential of this project, and the regulations and laws they need to be aware of. We're experts at this, and can help them think these issues through more quickly and more thoroughly.
This offer has two purposes. The first, of course, is to help them untie this know. The second, though, is to gently, politely remind them that we're out here. Nothing more aggressive than "Hey, don't forget about us." Anything more would be pushing too hard, but we cannot at this stage afford to to let them forget us.
Not too fast. Not too slow. Timing is everything.