Strategies to Close More Deals & Forecast Accurately w/ Doug Landis

10/10 GTM Episode 15
Transparent sales process - working together
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Welcome to Season 2 of 10/10 GTM: The Podcast for Revenue Leaders!

Our guest for Episode 15 is Doug Landis, Growth Partner at Emergence Capital. Doug specializes in capturing and creating GTM strategies for Emcap’s portfolio companies and the greater SaaS community. He brings a wealth of experience to the conversation, and shares practical tips for how sellers can get better at closing and forecasting. 

In this episode, Doug and Ross discuss why closing deals hinges on your ability to build consensus among stakeholders and align on a singular problem. They also explore the importance of identifying the ‘whys’ behind the deal and why what you don’t know will hurt you. 

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.

Build consensus by aligning on a singular problem

One of the most critical steps in sales is to identify the decision-makers and align them on a singular problem. When you bring everyone together and ask them, “What problem are you trying to solve?” and have each person answer individually. You’ll be amazed at how varied the answers are. 

Your primary objective at this stage is to build consensus on what the problem is. Once you accomplish this, you can begin building momentum around why now is the ideal time to solve for what’s causing the problem, and how this can be achieved. 

Based on Doug’s experience, without this alignment, a deal is unlikely: “Most buying groups can’t make a decision because they can’t even come to an agreement about the problem they’re trying to solve.”

His advice? Go into each conversation with a hypothesis about the company, industry, persona, and problem that is directly connected and associated with the outcomes you can deliver. 

For example, if you’re speaking with CS leaders, you could say, “My hunch is that, if you’re like the other CS leaders we’ve spoken to, the fundamental problem that exists across your organization is (insert main problem based on past conversations with similar company types and personas) and this is how they’ve defined the problem. I’m curious, would you define it in a similar way?.” This leads the stakeholders into a more structured conversation about what the problem is, allowing them to come to an agreement sooner. 

Identify the ‘whys’ 

Once you get everyone aligned on the singular problem, your next step is to understand why they want to change away from what they’re currently doing. Often, deals are lost to indecision because the idea of change is really difficult. By exploring the reasons driving the need for change, you can: 

  • Address pain points more effectively
  • Overcome resistance by highlighting the tangible benefits of the switch
  • Outline how your solution mitigates risks and enhances outcomes 

Here are 3 key ‘why’ questions to ask:

  • Why do you want to change away from what you’re currently doing?
  • Why is now the right time?
  • Why are they interested in using our solution or services compared to alternatives?

By understanding the ‘whys’ behind the decision allows you to align your solution to the prospects needs while creating urgency. 

Get maniacal about what you don’t know 

Partner with your buyer and get inquisitive about what could go wrong. You’ll want to equip yourself with information such as: 

  • What’s the timeline and is it subject to change?
  • What factors could derail or delay the project? 
  • Are there any budget constraints we need to be aware of?
  • Are there internal or external pressures that could influence the decision making process?
  • Is there any additional support or information you need from us?

Getting this insight is key, but it comes at a cost. It requires you to build trust and rapport with your champion(s), otherwise the information you receive may be misleading or incomplete.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you have all of the information you think you need, dive deeper by asking yourself these two questions: 

  1. What don’t I know?
  2. Why am I going to lose this deal?

Be honest with yourself about the likely outcomes, and what could affect the deal closing. Regular self-questioning and reflection allows you to identify blind spots and anticipate challenges ahead of time. As a result, you can be proactive in your approach to making the sale, while also maintaining a more accurate forecast. 

Rapid fire: Doug’s fast sales insights

In a rapid-fire Q&A session, Doug shares his insights with us on a wide range of topics: 

What’s the main reason most teams miss their ARR goals? Products that are nice to have, but not must haves. 

What’s your favorite resource for revenue leaders? LinkedIn and books like, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” which are off the beaten path are also helpful. 

What’s the number one challenge for revenue leaders in 2024? Being crystal clear about the value you can deliver to your buyers. When it was frothy in the market, we were selling on features. Today you have to sell on real value. 

SMB, Mid-market, or enterprise? Right now, Mid-market because there’s flexibility to make faster decisions. 

What’s the most important org: Sales, CS, or Marketing? I will always say CS because they’re closest to the customer. However, in this market right now, I feel like Marketing is more important because it’s branding, reorienting your ICPs, understanding your buyers at a level you haven’t before, and without this you’re flying blind. 

The road to successful revenue leadership is paved with . . . getting 80% of your team at 80% of attainment or above. 

About Doug Landis  

Doug is a Growth Partner at Emergence Capital who is dedicated to creating and sharing GTM strategies and insights that will help companies scale, grow, and become the next Billion dollar SaaS organizations. Beyond GTM strategy, his specialties include sales & marketing integration, sales productivity, sales ops, messaging, branding, prospecting, negotiating, and closing.