Getting the deal that crosses the chasm

How do you get the big deals? The deals that make the difference. Moving beyond the early adopters. Becoming the rainmaker. That is what “Navigate To The Lighthouse: A Silicon Valley Guide to Executing Global Deals” is all about. Finding the lighthouse deal; notifying all the players in a new market that you are a leader and qualified to play in that market. Once that deal closes, more will follow. Strategic business development. Strategic account management even. The deal that crosses the chasm.

Whale hunting

The book makes a distinction between sales and business development. Sales are standardised, transactional and mechanical. Business development handles longer sales cycles and involves the executives, investors, and leaders from a company’s many functions. Slow chess. Sensemaking. Clairvoyance even. Hunting.

Lighthouse deals

Getting a lighthouse deal starts with analysis. Undisputed thought leadership. Market intelligence. A deep understanding of the market, the size, the prospects, the structure, the technology, adoption curves, the regulations, the competition, the dynamics, the opportunity cost, the cost of sales, deep customer engagement, and 20:80. What are the deal cycles? Which whales can you land? Looking for the stepping stone deals. 


Assumptions, scenario planning and focus (you can only concentrate on a few deals). You need a plan. You need a story (the most believable story wins). You need a team (legal, marketing, finance, product and executive). You need the materials. You need the credibility. You need a pitch. Make it so simple that your entire company can memorise this short speech and share it in the same way. With consistency, impact and honesty as the pillars. Selling or reframing the future.

PR as a major weapon

When done correctly, PR works. With the right timing, consistency, and messaging, press releases can create credibility for your business and give you a perceived leadership position in the market. Look for the stories. Stories about finance, hiring, innovation, new deals, customers, partners, acquisitions, etc. Repeat. Repetition sticks. Audiences best absorb and remember messaging when it’s repetitive and recently consumed.

Get the appointments

The next step is getting the appointments. Hustle for warm introductions, become a speaker at conferences, go to the sessions where your target contact is speaking (it is called pit jumping), just wander the floor and never forget the bar. Use LinkedIn. Automate and persist. Fill the pipeline. Look for serendipity and weak signals for an opening. Qualify the leads. If that contact doesn’t respect you enough to respond after a few emails, they’re probably not worth talking to anyway.

The plan

Then start identifying the potential lighthouses. Each lighthouse gets a plan, or you’ll sail your ship in the dark. A deal plan is a structured plan that consists of a hypothesis, a written document with action items, a list of contacts, milestones, and more:

  • Hypotheses
  • The overview
  • Action items
  • Selling points 
  • The key requests you’ll need for deal closure.
  • The roadblocks and challenges
  • The list of the main “ins” you have at an organisation, their contact info, and whom you’ve assigned to be the point people for those contacts.
  • The organisation chart of the target. Find the deal champion. Figure out who benefits the most. Find the movers and shakers.
  • The milestones 

The questions

Lots of questions too. Which countries do you go for? Do we have clients that we can use as a stepping stone? What is the break-even point? What is the chance of success? Who are the potential partners? JVs? M&A? Small bets or big bets?


The book is full of other lessons. For example:

  • Japan does move slowly, but when corporates partner, they commit to their partner and make it work.
  • Europe, clones of your business who are more familiar with local market regulations quickly copy you before you get the chance to expand there.
  • The United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada are the natural first countries to expand from the United States.
  • The first foreign-language countries are often Germany and France. They each have a well-developed market, a high GDP per capita, and a vibrant technology scene.
  • The Scandinavian countries can be lumped together: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.
  • Start in Asia with Japan or Korea. They are close comparisons, so pick one or the other.
  • South Korea has high-speed, aggressive local competition.
  • Some companies make Australia the first entry point into Asia.
  • Test a large, emerging market of the BRC: Brazil, Russia, and China.
  • China is tricky and the most competitive market in the world. Unless you have a lot of money or political clout—which often go together—or a very trusted backer with deep China
  • Southeast Asia/India. This archipelago is exploding with billions of people moving out of poverty.
  • Europeans don’t check emails on weekends, and they take six to eight weeks off on summer holidays—no matter the status of the deal.
  • Another difference is that Europeans always respond to your messages, whereas we’ve got a large ghosting culture in the United States.
  • Italians and Spanish want to hang out, wine and dine and get to know each other that way, while the French go one step further and want to get to know your values and family.
  • The British like to poke into your general intelligence.
  • In the Nordics, many are consensus-driven; you may need to convince five people in the room. Before you go anywhere, understand the processes of each culture.
  • Germans are very detailed and require the facts—proof, statistics, and figures—to make a business deal.
  • The French appreciate working with someone who speaks French.
  • The French tend to be the most relationship-focused of the European countries, and meeting in person can help you pick up on cultural nuances you might otherwise have missed.
  • Don’t expect a warm welcome in Russia. Large partners may discredit you and ask why they should be talking to you in the first place. This isn’t because they’re not interested; it’s just their negotiation style adopted from the ex-Russian military in business. They are testing your ability to withstand the harsh business environment. Relationships and reputation weigh heavily in people’s minds in Russia.
  • The Japanese hold formalities and cultural appreciation in high regard. They respect anyone who speaks a few greetings, bows politely, and understands even a bit of Japanese culture.
  • Much like the Germans, the Japanese are detailed and analytical, but they are also relationship driven. Gestures like small gifts or cards from home mean a lot.
  • China is the most competitive and regulated business market in the world. If you go there, go fast and take your best game. Once they sniff you out, it’ll be a dog fight. Make sure you get the government’s approval if you want a fighting chance.
  • The Chinese are fast, intense, and entrepreneurial; they live in the most competitive marketplace in the world.
  • South Korea falls between China and Japan regarding style, pace, and culture. It is one of the trickiest places to do business.
  • Many Indians are relationship driven, looking for a long-term connection (personally and professionally). Make sure to invest in relationships and not come across as transactional.
  • Be ready for chaos in India.


The book is more a scaling book than a sales book. It covers M&A, people integration, culture, values, hiring, structure, mindset (meditate) and negotiations and is full of tips on how to phrase or rephrase questions and objections.


There is an excellent chapter about pricing. How to price the deal (familiar, flexible, fair and no surprises), the model (percentage, price per unit or a mixed version. Different sizes, different quality, trial periods, premium version, enterprise version, cost plus, risk sharing, volume, service levels, consultancy as a start and a few other options you should consider.


Begin with the consulting mindset. Work on reciprocity, get commitment fast, take a no and replace it with a “not until”. Keep digging until you get a clear definition of what a no or “not now” really means. Apply the four Ps of salesmanship, persistence, patience, politeness, and pushiness. Care about the customer experience foremost. Network up and down the company ladder, from the procurement people to the execs. Find a “friendly” who can help you understand the deal’s internal status. Find out what the most crucial decision points are. Be in the neighbourhood. Drop in. Always bring something. Be part of their team.


Play them one by one until you win. Always close. It isn’t a poker match, so feel free to ask your lighthouse account how you compare and what other projects they’re working on. Align with existing strategic pillars for the corporate. Create 1 + 1 = 3 when looking at revenues, customer expansion, geographic expansion, competitive positioning, etc. Get the lighthouse moving toward a decision, fend off the competition, even the playing field, and get a verbal commitment. Do this successfully, and the rest is just paperwork.

Post deal

Once you’ve won your lighthouse deal, execute on your promises. There are four parts. The handoff, project management, relationship management, and pricing management. The best way to ensure this is to have a two-step CS process: the implementation team and a relationship team. The tactical lead should be somebody on the implementation team. The tactical lead’s responsibility is to take the new customer from the implementation cycle to full adoption. It’s a critical function for usage growth. This person has the ongoing relationship, commercial, and contractual responsibilities—in other words, they ensure the relationship is going well, and the deal is profitably growing. This is where it goes wrong in a lot of start-ups. Pick the right person for account management and build a long-term relationship. Personally, I think that is where strategic account management comes in. It is an underestimated skill set. Any good book recommendation on that topic would be recommended.

Other books

Read and with this book.

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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