By Tim Savage

In the world of sales, we often hear about the thrill of closing a major deal, but seldom do we get a glimpse into the relentless effort it takes to get there. Here’s the story of my first million-dollar deal, born out of a cold call and fueled by unwavering persistence.

The Initial Contact

It all started with a cold call to Major University. After several emails with no response, I decided to pick up the phone. To my surprise, the decision maker answered. We talked briefly and managed to schedule a meeting. I had reached him at the perfect time, just when our service could fulfill a pressing need they had. This led to a series of meetings with various decision makers and stakeholders, and it seemed promising.

Building Momentum

Our initial meeting at the university was significant; it was the first major client meeting for our startup. There were numerous people in the room, and the excitement was palpable. We conducted a demo trial, and everything seemed to be moving in the right direction. However, after a month, the communication went dark. No one responded to my follow-ups. Despite this, I continued to stay close, following up regularly.

The Waiting Game

After three months of relentless follow-ups, I finally got a response. The decision maker had changed, and I had to start the process all over again with the new contact. We went through the demo and trial phases again. My pipeline projections included this deal, though no one believed it would close. But I did.

The Long Haul

We received approval from the new decision maker, but the process didn’t end there. It had to go through procurement, adding another layer of complexity with new stakeholders and requirements, including a grant that would fund the deal. I followed up with procurement for six months, often without any significant updates. The person I contacted was always gracious but never had positive news.

Persistence Pays Off

After 18 months of relentless follow-ups, working the system, and staying committed, I finally received the signed approval. This deal involved answering extensive security questionnaires and addressing grant-specific requirements. It was an intense journey, requiring humility, persistence, and dedication to the process.

The Reality of Enterprise Sales

The key takeaway from this experience is that closing enterprise deals is not about achieving something sensational. It’s about being diligent, committed, and ready to do the work without seeking immediate recognition. When a major deal finally comes through, it’s not about celebrating your success with fanfare. It’s about taking a deep breath, expressing gratitude, and moving on to the next challenge.

Lessons for Sales Leaders

I share this story not to boast but to illustrate the level of focus and persistence required to close a million-dollar deal. It’s a testament to believing in the process and holding yourself accountable. In the real world of sales, the individuals who close such deals often remain unsung because the journey is grueling.

The great part is, you can do it too. Learn from stories like this and understand the scope of commitment involved. While not all deals will take this long—some might take even longer—the point is to stay with it, even when it seems impossible. The satisfaction of seeing a hard-earned deal come through is unparalleled, and it’s why we keep coming back. When you talk to seasoned sales leaders who have closed large deals, remember that their insights and feedback stem from a deep well of experience and relentless persistence. So, put in the time, stay the course, and believe in the process.