Willing to Go After 60 Million Dollars? - 9 Lessons I Had to Learn

My company, Team Pegine Inc., is a woman owned and woman managed company. My senior leadership team is female.  One of my mentors, who knows me very well, asked several years ago why am I playing so small? Why am I going after the small potatoes when I have the guts, fearlessness and foundation to go after bigger deals? My mantra became "Fewer Bigger Deals."

Every year since then we have grown. This year we are going after bigger deals, 60 million dollar deals.  My team and I are having fun.  We are growing, expanding and increasing.... and with each proposal we learn more and become better prepared.

There are rules to closing a 60 million dollar deal - preparation is key.  So here are some of the steps I've taken to be prepared.  I know that some of you may never enter into this realm, however the steps for your great, big one are no different.

Confidence.  As a leader are you confident enough to be in the same room as the decision makers of a 60 million dollar deal? Can you sit in your chair and not squirm, wiggle or feel that you are a fraud? When you get your shot are you ready?

Actually, you may get two shots but you really will learn from the first.  I had the chance seven years ago to meet with the Asst Secretary of Defense in charge of Manpower. I went to the Pentagon and was prepared for the meeting (or so I thought).  I was ushered into his office where 5 other men in senior positions were in the room.  I was alone.

Lesson ONE if you don't have 'people' you aren't ready for a 60 million dollar deal.  I didn't have people, I had me, myself and I. I was already at a disadvantage and communicated to them that I didn't get how to close large business deals, I didn't get them. They were thinking in millions ... I was thinking thousands.

Lesson TWO   At the highest levels of decision making they want to hear three words - Scalable, Strategic and Systems. Watch the TV show "Shark Tank" and you will hear  the word 'scalable' over and over. You will hear 'systems' over and over and you will hear talk about your 'strategy'.

Can you replicate the experience in six different places, with a thousand client's/participants each,  and report back on a daily basis what worked, what didn't and issues encountered? Can you submit bills on time every-time according to their system?

Lesson THREE Know that people at this level are really smart. They know their business and know why they do what they do. You have to know that too.  I didn't. It took me seven years of learning to understand the depth, scope and systems needed to execute a project that met the needs of senior leaders.

Lesson FOUR You have heard 'fake it till you make it' at this level DON'T.  You might feel like a fake however you have to KNOW you can execute. You have to know that you have the connections and guts to get the job done. You can't fake the strategy and systems you need in place to execute a major event that is seen around the world. Working with the White House, Secret Service, all branches of the military, at least 15 agencies, 50 suppliers knowing that you have the careers of the senior most people in government on the line, if you fail they will pay the price. You better have systems in place and understand their strategy. I didn't have to know HOW to do every job, but I had to know how to MANAGE and COMMUNICATE with every official to ensure a seamless event.  Watch the two  minute video on my corporate home page to see the event.

Lesson FIVE  Patience is a virtue. The organizations that have the funds to pay you 60 million dollars have very detailed systems and procedures that your product will have to go through to ensure that your product meets their needs. We worked with Sodexo to develop, produce and implement a training for thousands of managers. The process took over four years of diligence, focus, faith and education.  The good news we made a huge difference and the product was fabulous (if I do say so myself). Sodexo, the US Navy, US Army, Marines, National Guard , PECO Energy, Rockwell Collins and the Coast Guard used the product.  The bad news... 'recession'. Oh well.

Lesson SIX Practice makes perfect. In our office we run strategy drills.  My team meets every couple of weeks to have 'what if' scenarios.  What if we have five 15 million dollar contracts come in with a 3 week start date for each what do we need to do? These exercises have lead us to invest in software, process manuals, project bibles, while building coalitions and collaboratives with amazing brilliant consultants and partners. The process highlighted weak spots that we needed to strengthen.  It forced me to look at financial resources, strategic training, leadership development needs and staffing.  While I'm at it, I had to make sure that our organizational chart could manage fast growth and that we had human resources covered, insurance needs satisfied, security processes and the reports needed to manage growth.

Lesson SEVEN It doesn't happen overnight. My friend Bob Frare reminded me years ago that it takes twenty years to be an overnight sensation. I'm so grateful for those words of wisdom. There are no overnight sensations. The rewards come from diligence, perseverance, conviction and clarity.  While we have goals and objectives I know that the outcome really isn't in my or my teams control. What is in our control is our ability to plan and work the plan - day in and day out.  No matter what.

Lesson EIGHT Embrace your differences, be unique and show up. We laugh often. So many times we have gone to procurement conferences, business partnering events and networking events that have people who can award us large contracts. Aside from the women who work for the corporations or government staff who are procuring business - my team are often the only other females.  Our road trip team is made up of a Black woman, a Hispanic female, a Blonde Midwestern female and a twenty something female vet.  We wear black with bling and sometimes have a red accent piece. It is who we are.We don't know why women aren't there, they just aren't. We are looking for opportunities to showcase and introduce our services, people are looking for us.

Lesson NINE  Keep on keeping on. We network, submit great proposals, network, spend time with experts to improve our skills. Listen, listen, listen and ask questions.  My staff are the most tenacious, focused, fun, fearless and feisty group of people.  We are dedicated to our clients and their success. We keep on keeping on with red lipstick on. It is who we are. We made a decision - We close 60 million dollar deals.

For those wondering. Yes we are a multimillion dollar company. Yes we are patiently waiting for word on some of our 60 million dollar proposals. Some will hit and some won't. We are ok with that. 

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