Sales blogger Jodi Bagwell recalls the saying: “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” It aptly describes a C-suite sales duel in which she learned the hard way that overconfidence kills.

She’d prepared for months to win a deal and had repeated assurances from an inside coach that she was positioned to close the business.

But on the day final presentations were scheduled, her competitor showed up with two C-level executives and a multimedia presentation. By contrast, she had a six-slide cut-and-paste PowerPoint, a draft contract – and no team.

Result? No deal.

Lessons learned:

  1. Keep Your Big Guns Loaded. Engage your entire team early in the process and take advantage of the expertise and experience of the people who surround you.
  2. Know Your Competitors. Use what you know to neutralize their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.
  3. Be Perfect. Your planning, questions, collateral, proposal, and presentation are on stage and being evaluated. Every detail and every interaction must be perfect.

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