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What I learned at Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce, and IBM...and From a Few Bad Movies

Does the beginning of your supplier's fiscal year always start with the introduction of a new account team? Have you been asked nearly every year to jumpstart a relationship because the former team was reassigned?

In dating terms, it is not you, it is them. This is by design. The best get the best, the closers get to drink the coffee (not the bad movie I referenced; "Glengarry Glenn Ross" is a great movie!), and the top salespeople get the top accounts. By the way, the bad movie referenced is any movie where a person of power is closely guarded at the top of the mountain, with very little or no interaction with mere mortals.

Back to those account teams.

One year, an Oracle Key Account Director or KAD (we will call her Sally) was assigned PNC, BlackRock, Citi, and SunTrust Bank. During a Q1 QBR, another sales team failed to produce a strategic plan, and Sally pounced. Not only did she add those four accounts, but she was given one more. In Q1! Oracle didn't wait until the fiscal year-end; they pulled the trigger immediately. She finished the year at 750% of her quota, and for the next five years, told the SVP of Sales what accounts she wanted to cover. These suppliers put the best closers in front of the largest deals, and the closing percentages are quite impressive.

And the common theme between Sally and all top producers was their ability to keep you away from their executive team as much as possible. They guard that mountain, and they take that role seriously.


We are always surprised that GC clients have little or no executive alignment. We are also puzzled that they don't have an executive sponsor for their largest suppliers. Sales reps, RSM, and GVP do not have authority to provide nonstandard discounts or modify terms in your agreements. It's NOT about the best PRICE; it's about securing the best CONTRACT. And Sally... she is protecting every cent and concession because the impact on her quota is much more significant compared to the executive whose quota is 100 times greater. That is why she is not letting you up that mountain without knowing your full intentions. And getting face time with that executive during negotiations? Forget it because your engagement with that executive is taking money out of her pocket.

When we built Green Cabbage, we knew that Relevant Market Intelligence and Licensing Expertise were the foundation; however, if you're not negotiating with high-level decision-makers, the data is worthless. Now just imagine if GC and our clients were negotiating together against the suppliers and getting to those executives; that is where the additional 5-10% and the best business and legal terms are negotiated – YES, THAT IS HOW WE SECURE THE BEST CONTRACT! And not only the best contract but also on a shortened sales cycle. Top-level executives value their time; they want the deal off the street. And we know how to get up that mountain; we do it time and time again.

Ninety-five percent of the deals that are negotiated are with a front-line manager at the suppliers. Pure and simple, the best deal is not secured with a front-line manager. Never.

Control the narrative and request an exec sponsor on all strategic spend and invest in a call 1x per month to get them on ice. And go high... they have the power to assist you not only during negotiations but in times of need as well (the image of the CEO calling you due to a company-wide email outage comes quickly to mind).

Written by: CEO & Founder of Green Cabbage, Eric Cunningham

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