Do you have a watermelon deal?


Do you have a watermelon deal?

No, this isn’t a special discount on bulk watermelons – as sweet as that sounds, I’d like to introduce you to another relevant concept for anyone who works in sales or sales operations. We can all relate to a watermelon deal – it’s quite simply a catchphrase we use to represent a deal that looks amazing on the surface, indicating all green and visibly confident … but just ask a few probing questions in a particular way. You soon discover it’s not as green as you think! In fact, it’s red on the inside – all those healthy green indicators turn red. Hence, the watermelon deal!

How Watermelon Deals playout in real life?

We’ve all been in those situations where everything looks great, forecasted or committed to close. Yes, we’ve met with the stakeholders, confirmed the budget, agreed on the scope and aligned on everything – everything looking green (like the outside of a watermelon!)…and then, bang…everything goes south…it turns from green to red in a heartbeat and represents the inside of the watermelon.

So why a Watermelon?

Well, it's something we can all relate to. It's visibly green until you look into it closer (the juicy red inside, which, sadly for deals, is the death of a deal!)… it's a good fun analogy to introduce into your pipeline meetings or perhaps even deal reviews (of course, you have these, right?!).

How do you prevent a Watermelon Deal?

Qualification of deals in a systematic way is important, but more important is the consistent focus from management on asking the questions to check for facts and evidence of the qualification answers. Often this is overlooked and answers given at face value.

The key to success here is threefold:

  • Questions matter: Not just what you ask, but how you ask the questions
  • Consistency matters: Repeated and consistent asking drives behaviour
  • Facts and evidence-based: Look for confident facts that are not subjective and evidence of what has been discovered, when and how – avoid the ‘I think’ and ‘erm’ as they often are someone's perception, not fact!

What if I have a Watermelon Deal?

The first step is don’t panic, don’t create fear and always create a psychologically safe and comfortable space to discuss the deal.  Review, why you have concluded some parts are now red.  Don’t criticise or lay blame but instead do this…brainstorm actions that can be taken based on what you don’t know (the missing information), and clearly ask, “What do we need to find out”, and “What actions can we take to investigate this further and turn it around”? Remember questions matter and that reds are great.  They mean we can define what we need to discover and set actions to progress.

FREE tool for evaluating watermelon deals

At The Customer Agency, we're passionate about revenue growth that aligns with customer expectations. I thought I'd share one simple scorecard tool you can download and use today to help evaluate watermelon deals. It's a fun way to do a quick spot review of any deal outside (or with) a formal qualification process, and it works with deals in any stage of your pipeline.

Download here.

The questions are straightforward and designed for B2B sales pursuits and deals but can be applied to most industries.  Focused on the reasons ‘why’ you won’t win that deal (or why it slips), you can use it as a potential post-mortem before the deal has actually been lost to drive focus in the areas of stakeholders, problem solving, competition and your sales execution. The tip here is NOT to ask someone to fill it out but to go through it together, collaboratively to discuss the answers, looking for facts and evidence. As you go through this (in a Miro board, printed or over a coffee), simply mark which bits are red and on a separate piece of paper, draw a line and capture your missing information and actions. Capture these in your CRM and you've immediately got value out of a session that can be held in 15 to 30 minutes per deal!

Need help?

Feel free to reach out if you want a session on how to run a deal review or to dig deeper into these questions. Also, if you wish to customise the template, we can provide a version for you. Use this fun tool to ask the right questions using a tool like the one provided and reduce the watermelon deals in your pipeline over time!

Link to free scorecard tool here.