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Welcome to the Newsroom for “How to Close A Deal Like Warren Buffett” by Tom Searcy and Henry DeVries. Here you will find interview excerpts, press-ready images, highlights from the book and press contact information. Please feel free to republish any materials found here, so long as proper attribution is given to the book “How to Close A Deal Like Warren Buffett” by Tom Searcy and Henry DeVries.

Attention journalists: For media information contact Henry DeVries at 858-534-9955 or email hdevries@ucsd.edu.

Recent Warren Buffett Columns by Tom Searcy and Henry DeVries

“What Warren Buffett’s CEOs Can Teach You”
http://www.inc.com/tom-searcy/warren-buffetts-berkshire-hathaway-ceos-business-lessons.html

“3 Ingredients to Making a Warren Buffett Deal”
http://www.forbes.com/sites/dealmakers/2012/10/30/3-ingredients-to-making-a-warren-buffett-deal/

                                                                                   

                                                                                    Recent Amazon Best Sellers Rankings

Tom Searcy

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Key Account Sales Expert, Tom Searcy: Five Ways to Win Multi-Million Deals

The big key account game is on, says author and key account sales expert, Tom Searcy.

“In this tough economy, sales people from small to medium sized companies are getting played every day by prospects from big name companies out to play an unfair game called Chase the Key Account,”

Henry DeVries

says Searcy. “Sales people gamble their time, energy and resources on making a deal, and instead of constantly gambling, they should take proven steps to put the odds in their favor.”

Searcy, founder of the consulting firm Hunt Big Sales (www.HuntBigSales.com), is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and the foremost expert in multi-million dollar key account sales. By the age of 40, Searcy had led four corporations, transforming annual revenues of less than $15 million to as much as $200 million in each case.

“The problem is the sales game is usually rigged against most sales people from smaller organizations,” says Searcy. “What most prospects call a fair deal is really a set of rules that favor the status quo of doing nothing or staying with the current provider.”

Searcy has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales with over 190 of the Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, Disney, Chase Bank, International Paper, AT&T, Apple and hundreds more. Searcy is the author of “RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business” and the co-author of “Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company.” His new book with co-author Henry DeVries, “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett” is currently available.

Here are five ways from Searcy on how to win multi-million deals in this challenging economy:

  1. Don’t Agree to Stacked Decks. In gaming parlance, a stacked deck is a set of playing cards arranged in a preset order, designed to give a specific outcome when the cards are dealt. In the Oscar-winning movie, “The Sting,” Paul Newman’s character goads Robert Shaw’s fictional gangster boss into cheating, which he does with a cold deck (“Stack me a cooler Floyd!”). When you are going after a key account, sometimes the prospect just wants to hear your ideas and your research. Try this: Set expectations upfront about urgency and information access so you know you really have a fair shot at landing the business.
  2. Avoid the Big Con. In the world of selling, most stacked deck sales competitions are created by the incumbent player who is trying to preserve his or her position. This means that the alleged “fair opportunity” to win the business is inherently unfair to anyone who challenges it. You would have a better chance of winning a street corner game of three-card Monte with some big city con men than winning one of these sales deals. Try this: Don’t enter the game unless you have an executive sponsor that is high up in the organization.
  3. Know the Rules. The smaller organization that seeks to unseat the incumbent always has the deck stacked against them. The current provider—whether it is an internal department, a competitor or another business initiative that competes for resources—is entrenched and holds all the cards. This means the current provider has access to unique information, people, and discreet decision-making processes, all favoring the status quo. Try this: Be direct and ask them how high of a priority it is to make a change.
  4. Don’t Fall for the Level Playing Field Con. No buying process truly creates a level playing field. When the process (i.e., RFP) is created for considering new ideas and providers, the process is supposed to give a “fair and equal” opportunity for evaluation to all parties.  However, fair is not a possibility given the entrenched competition. Try this: Know when to fold ‘em. If there is no urgency and you cannot engage the prospect’s team, the deal may not be winnable.
  5. Change the Game. Therefore, it is your responsibility to change the game. Let the other suckers chase after prospects when they face a clear disadvantage. You have the power to change the rules of the game. Try this: Get an executive sponsor agreement in writing early in the process. Does it have to be in writing? Yes it does. But just a one-page document. You are not writing your version of the official “Rules According to Hoyle.”

“Eliminate the chance in chasing key accounts,” says Searcy.  “You should do everything you can to win as long as it is not illegal, immoral, unethical, or might compromise the future of the business.”

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Media contact: Henry DeVries at hdevries@ucsd.edu or 858-534-9955 or 619-540-3031

Key Account Selling Expert, Tom Searcy: Top Ten Ways Presentations Go Wrong

Bad things happen to good people pitching big deals, says author and key account selling expert, Tom Searcy.

Searcy, founder of the consulting firm Hunt Big Sales (www.HuntBigSales.com), is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and the foremost expert in multi-million dollar key account sales. By the age of 40, Searcy had led four corporations, transforming annual revenues of less than $15 million to as much as $200 million in each case.

“The show must go on even if people or technology let you down,” says Searcy. “Be prepared to pitch even if your techno-demo turns into techno-drama. Whatever happens, be prepared to address it and move on.”

Searcy has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales with over 190 of the Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, Disney, Chase Bank, International Paper, AT&T, Apple and hundreds more. Searcy is the author of “RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business” and the co-author of “Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company.” His new book with co-author Henry DeVries, “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett” will be published by McGraw-Hill in January 2013 (advance copies available November 2012).

Based on his experience, here is Searcy’s list of the top ten ways presentations to land key accounts can and do go wrong:

  1. People.  The wrong people from the prospect company come to the meeting.  Some of your people can’t attend the meeting at the last minute.
  2. Technology.  The Internet connection, your technology demonstration, the projector, the phone for a conference call.  Whatever it is you need—it doesn’t work.
  3. Facility.  Room holds eight people, and 12 are invited.  Room holds 250 people, and twelve are invited.  Room is too hot or too cold.  Room location has changed, and half the attendees don’t know the new location.
  4. Hostility.  Someone has a personal agenda to damage this relationship—so that person asks distracting questions, points out tiny details, dominates the meeting—all to cast you in an unfavorable light.
  5. Time.  Time of the meeting gets moved at the last minute.  Hour meeting becomes half hour meeting without notice.
  6. Disruption.  People arrive late or leave early.  Someone interrupts to take a vote on the lunch menu.  Two people whisper with each other throughout the meeting.  Fire alarm means you have to exit the building for fifteen minutes.  Sudden summer thunderstorm forces people to leave the meeting to roll up car windows.
  7. Distraction.  Jackhammers break up the sidewalk outside the window.  Next-door office has a raucous retirement party.  Seminar-goers from down the hall stop outside your door to visit during restroom break.
  8. Tangent.  Someone makes a comment, and the entire conversation shifts to a totally new topic and never returns to the subject at hand.
  9. Usurper.  Someone feels the need to be important and peppers your presentation with asides—sometimes funny ones—that keep you off-track.
  10. Preparation.  Attendees are not prepared, so you waste valuable time having to establish a background they should already know.

When any of these events threatens to disrupt your meeting purpose, Searcy recommends to declare it a broken play and move on. Never pretend the problem does not exist.

Searcy says to say something like the following: “I’m sorry, but we all agreed upon some outcomes for today’s meeting and, based on the circumstances, I think it will be difficult to get them.  Let’s reset our outcomes so they reflect what we think we can achieve and meet again.  We want to make our time spent together valuable.”

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Media contact: Henry DeVries at hdevries@ucsd.edu or 858-534-9955 or 619-540-3031

Quotations from Chairman Buffett

The Berkshire Hathaway (stock symbol BRK) Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska in May is truly to capitalists what the Daytona 500 is to NASCAR fans. It’s a spectacle, a tradition, and a happening. The event is over the top and reassuringly familiar to the faithful.

At this writing, a BRK-A share prices out over $120,000 for a single share, but a BRK-B is about $80. The good news is that either share will qualify you for a ticket to the annual meeting. It’s so worth the expense of either type of share, the travel and time to attend this crash-course in business excellence.

As research for this book Tom Searcy and Henry DeVries and attended the 2012 annual session in Omaha and got the chance to meet all sorts of great people including the CEO of Dairy Queen, the founder of The Pampered Chef, the CEO of World Book, senior executives of Burlington Northern Santa Fe raillway and many other leaders of the various companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

“Here’s what we learned from meeting and watching these company CEOs and executives that is true of many of the successful business leaders that we have met over time, regardless of the size of their companies. Surprisingly, it’s love,” said Searcy.

  1. Love their customers. Hollywood often portrays business leaders as stuffed suits, brusque and self-important. Not this group. They are on fire, accessible, warm and friendly. They seek and serve their customers and shareholders with genuine interest. Warren (we will be on a first name basis with him throughout the book) likes to tell shareholders that the managers who run the companies Berkshire owns are all rich enough to quit any day, but they stay for reasons other than money.
  2. Love what they sell. I got to talk to the founder of Pampered Chef for a moment. She pulled me over to three different products on sale for half-price, $5 each. I have the leader of a billion-dollar company demonstrating a no-drip wine-stopper as if we were in my home and she’d brought it as a host gift. A Dilly Bar from DQ? Served with a smile and a “Still love’em after all of these years, they are just the best!” from the CEO of Dairy Queen. The excitement hasn’t left these people with the millions they have earned or the international notoriety. They still love their products and services and can’t wait to tell people about them.
  3. Love what they do. Working the booth, talking to shareholders and customers, chatting with their staff, you would think you were attending an Up with People! rally. The working of the floor is not beneath them or a burden. They love what they do and they bring the energy to everything they are doing.
  4. Love their people. Elbow to elbow with their frontline people, these people were not followed by an entourage. If there wasn’t a different color for their badges you would have some difficulty picking out the executives from any other member of the team. Joking while you are jostling in the crowd, setting the pace for reaching out to customers, pitching in- it was clear to me that these leaders love their people.

“Nobody believes that excellence like this just happens,” says DeVries.  “There of course is a person responsible for bringing these exemplary managers together, and that person is Warren Buffett.”

Here are some choice quotes from Buffett that he delivered at the 2012 annual meeting:

On his health (recently diagnosed with prostrate cancer): “My diet is such that any fool can see that I am eating properly. I have four doctors. And yes, they’re Berkshire shareholders.” Later he joked that he might be killed by a jealous husband, but not prostrate cancer.

On political involvement and criticism he has received over supporting the “Buffett rule,” President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise tax rates for the ultra-rich: “I will not put my citizenship in a blind trust,” said Buffett.

On giving advice to China: “We are not in the business of giving advice.”

Buffett is enjoying his business too much to consider retiring. Ironically, the deal to acquire the then textile company Berkshire Hathaway back in the early 1960s is not one Buffett is proud that he made. In 1962 he began buying stock in the company. Eventually, he conceded that the textile business was a declining industry and the company’s fortune would not improve. Buffett had a chance to sell his holding, but because of a dispute over price — $11.38 versus $11.50 a share – he rejected the offer and gained control of the company.

Becoming majority owner of a failing textile company because of a perceived slight over price, Buffett said later, was the biggest deal-making mistake he has ever made. Had the additional money poured into Berkshire instead been invested in the insurance business for 45 years, he calculates it would have produced several hundred times the results.

Buffett, as chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, began writing his now-famous annual letters to shareholders in 1970, which have been packed with lessons about deal-making and investing.

Buffett told BusinessWeek in 1999 that “Berkshire is my painting, so it should look the way I want it to.” He also said: “There is nothing remotely as fun as running Berkshire.”

“We get the opportunity to paint our own painting every day,” Buffett said of Munger and himself at the 2012 annual meeting. “And we love painting that painting. And that painting will never be finished.”

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Media contact: Henry DeVries at hdevries@ucsd.edu or 858-534-9955 or 619-540-3031