Introduction – How to be a Better Deal-Closer


The Cambridge Business English Dictionary defines deal-making as:

The activity of making business agreements or arrangements.


Deals are pivotal to business growth and are being struck all the time. You won’t succeed in business without striking deals.

The last few years have seen records set for global corporate deals. Record low interest rates in developed economies have helped to fuel a large part of this deal activity amongst all levels of companies as they have taken advantage of “cheap money” to buy, or merge with, competitors as a way to spur growth.

Worldwide mergers and acquisitions activity has exceeded $3tn for the fourth consecutive year, extending an unprecedented wave of deal making that bankers say is set to accelerate through 2018 and perhaps onwards. The total volume of deal making hit $3.5tn in 2017 (

According to the Deloitte Future of the Deal Report:, while there is an urgency to spend on deals given the era of low interest rates appears to be winding down, there has also been a movement toward investing in disruptive technologies and return of private equity investors.

Deal activity in the first four months of 2018 was the highest since 2007 at $1.7tn. That was largely due to mega deals of $1bn or more that contributed nearly a third to the total deal value.

Of course, this book is not just about mega-global deals and M&As, it relates to all forms of deals—from global corporate to local operational, but the same essential principles apply.

Deals and Societal Culture

While different cultures and nationalities use different methods, processes, and communication styles in deal-closing, from the beginning of time humans have been striking deals to facilitate family, trade, community, and national best interests.

Cultural differences can complicate deal negotiations and relationships in many ways. For example, words can carry different weights in different jurisdictions—in certain Asian countries, words such as “That’s a problem” or “It is looking difficult” may mean that the deal discussion may well not proceed, while in certain Western jurisdictions it might be taken as a reason to reframe and move on.

In some jurisdictions, certain behaviors are viewed differently. For example, facilitation payments are considered to be illegal activity in many jurisdictions and yet in others may be considered as an inevitable aspect of “greasing the wheels” of business. Also, culture can influence the method of deal interaction. For example in the United States, a primary goal may be to get a signed deal, while in China, the ultimate aim may be more geared to establishing an effective long-term relationship.

Although cultural differences make the deal landscape even more interesting and sometimes challenging, for example deal dynamics in developing and centrally command economies can be heavily influenced by prevailing Government dynamics, the key elements that facilitate a deal—selling, persuading, negotiating, and signing a contract—are essentially the same the world over. That said, to smooth out cultural differences as much as possible, there are a number of steps that could be made such as (a) being prepared by learning up front about the opposing side and what makes them unique; (b) respecting cultural differences—do not seek to change the other side, instead, try to understand and appreciate them whilst finding ways to constructively bridge the differences; and (c) being adaptable and nimble.

Deals and Technology

Information and communication technologies such as artificial intelligence and analytics, online data rooms, and databases can enhance the deal-closing landscape. Technology and the associated increased access to precedent information for informed decision making can open up the market, reduce the power gap between parties, reduce costs by cutting out expensive middlemen, and increase the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of the deal-closing process.

But, does technology create risk for the deal-closing process? Electronic data transmission and the use of data rooms increase the prospect of data leakage, whether through hacking, information hijacking, or newsgathering opportunism. This in turn can increase corporate costs in relation to improved data management infrastructure.

But, technology has not (yet) replaced human interaction. As we have seen, deal-closing cannot ignore human behavior. Person to person interaction is required to really draw out wants and needs and so primary and secondary issues at play in a deal scenario. Face to face discussion can also help build trust between the parties in a deal scenario which, in turn, can help to avoid conflict, disagreement, and a failed deal process.

Deals and Gender

Gender balance optimization—balancing “feminine” collaborative and emotion-led communication-based attributes with “masculine” forthright, hierarchical, and outcome-based attributes—is essential for accomplished, more sustainable, business deal negotiation. However, notwithstanding that we are all born with an instinct for negotiating deals, there is a deficit in utilizing these more feminine attributes where business deals are being negotiated. See Annex 1 for a discussion of the importance of gender balance in negotiating deals. It first explores what is meant by negotiation and deal-closing, and then looks at why women are under-represented in negotiating business deals. It then explores why it is important to increase the participation of women and the feminine in business deal negotiation and how best to achieve this. Finally, it examines whether accessing feminine empathy and emotional intelligence can offer a potential edge in any business deal negotiation.

Deals and Generations

Deals are pivotal to corporate growth and are being struck all the time. As technology continues to advance and new business markets develop, cross-border deals will only increase.

The nature of deal-closing has undergone some paradigm shifts in keeping with the emergence of new generation of companies such as Uber, Classpass, Airbnb, Deliveroo, Netflix, Wework, Tripadvisor, and Trov. Minimal click purchasing, rapid delivery, real-time order status updates, and online feedbacks and reviews are becoming the new modern norms. How many people nowadays book restaurants and accommodation online without first checking prior online reviews?

See Annex 2 for a discussion as to how Generations Y (or millennials), who are identified as those who were born from the 1980s to the late 1990s/early 2000s, and Generation Z, those who were born from the late 1990s/early 2000s are shaping these shifts in the nature of deal-closing.

Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.

—Businesswoman and author, Barbara Corcoran

Who Makes Deals and Why?

Deal-closing is not limited to CEOs. To varying degrees and at different times, we all strike deals in business. Every person or organization engages in deal-closing at some point. From as far back as our childhood, we possessed the innate ability to get what we want through selling and negotiating and other means—remember when you used to stamp your feet to make sure you got your own way! We are born with an instinct for deal-closing. Some people retain that deal-closing instinct and develop it as they age, while others lose it for many reasons such as social conditioning or lack of practice. And so, many of us are poorer at deal-closing and thus miss out on better outcomes.

Everyone has the potential to be a good deal-closer and it is clear that every person, organization, or nation state, needs to make deals at some point, and usually quite regularly. So, it is important to be open to a potential deal and recognize that, if you rely on your instinct, as supplemented by your experience and the skills offered by this book, you give yourself the best chance of success. Also, even if you are already an accomplished deal-closer, it is easy to slip into bad habits, so constantly calibrating where you stand in your deal-closing skills is beneficial.

Deal-closing is an active and deeply practical skill. It requires flexible and adaptable listening, reading, absorbing, and summarizing skills. Given that selling and negotiating are innate human abilities, the premise of this book is that these, and other related, deal-closing skills can be significantly enhanced by following some proven steps. This book explains the deal-closing process in a logical, step-by-step way, and will help the reader to successfully execute business deals.

Companies around the world will continue to grow, refocus, merge—and, sometimes, retrench—through making deals. As a result, given the increasing interconnectivity—technological and otherwise—of the world’s businesses, the risks of not having a good deal-closer at the helm will increase. The need for business leaders and decision-makers to be able to effectively identify a deal’s strategic, financial, and operational value and then to execute and manage it efficiently will only accelerate in this ever-competitive world.


1. How do you think deal-closing varies across different cultures?

Different cultures and nationalities use different methods, processes, and communication styles in deal-closing.

2. Name some of the key elements that facilitate a deal

Selling, persuading, negotiating, signing a contract, and so on.

3. Is deal-closing limited to certain people only?

We are born with an instinct for deal-closing and everyone has the potential to be a good deal-closer.

4. What kind of skills does deal-closer require?

Deal-closing is an active and deeply practical skill. It requires flexible and adaptable listening, reading, absorbing, and summarizing skills.

The seven Ps of successful deal-closing are:

1. Principles

2. Planning

3. Power

4. Players

5. Performance

6. Putting It All to Bed

7. Pay-Out or Post-Mortem

In the business world, deal-closing is clearly unavoidable. In setting out the seven Ps in an easy to follow, logical way, I have included some practical lessons I have learned, and examples from global business leaders I have worked with, over my quarter of a century making deals. This book is both an overview of deal-making for organizations and tips on better deal-closing for individuals.

Good luck with your own deals!

Simon Haigh
Dublin, Ireland, October 28, 2018