“We’re really close!” You might hear this a lot from bizdev types barking about deals. This is usually a good indicator that your business development people have no idea what they’re doing. You are never close to closing a deal. You either have the deal or you don’t. If you haven’t executed a contract and have money in the bank, you are just as far from closing as you were when you first began discussions.
Make sure that you don’t ignore other leads because you think you’re going to execute a contract soon. If a client or investor is being particularly sluggish, the social proof of having other options is a great tool to get them to the table. If not, then they probably weren’t serious and you can move on to other opportunities easily.
Protracted negotiations have other dangers too. If business is to be done, the deal will close rather quickly. If discussions drag on and on, there’s probably an ulterior motive for one party to string the other along.
The frequent unfulfilled announcements of “We had a great meeting!” and “We’re close to signing!” coming from your bizdev people will take its toll on the rest of the team. Not to mention it will make you look totally incompetent.
Oh and by the way, this isn’t just a useful business philosophy. It can be applied to many other aspects of your personal life as well.
That’s not to say you should give up. Be optimistic that you will close, but not unrealistically positive about when or with whom. See the Stockdale Paradox to refine this point. Optimists die early, realists survive.