Had the opportunity to listen in on an interesting discussion the other day between two sales practitioners, they were not aware of me, or what I do, I was just snooping. One, we’ll call him Fred, was telling the other, Joe, that he was looking forward to a negotiations program his company was sending him to, he felt this would help his sales. The other fellow, a bit more subdued and low key in his manner, smiled in a way that practically said “you silly sod”, suggested that the course may help his numbers occasionally, but will in no way help him sell better. And the battle was on.
Fred was saying that he often felt unprepared for the negotiations phase and having some solid training and a process to manage that part of the sale could only help. He insisted that knowing how to negotiate in a professional way would also allow him to arrive at a mutually acceptable, no one compromised, conclusion to deals. A win win, where both parties can walk away feeling they had accomplished a good thing for their respective organizations and cause.
Joe had a different view. He said he believed that the job of a sales professional was to build value for both parties throughout the sale, so by the time they arrived at the conclusion, both saw enough value in the deal that there was no need for what many call negotiations. If the sales person does what he/she is paid to do, they align their sales process with the buyer’s buying process, and communicate value in a way that there was no need to “add another act at the end of the play”, just to meet at a mutually acceptable point. That is why he felt that a negotiation process may help Fred’s numbers in some deals, but would not make him a better seller, in fact as Fred said, “you’ll become a lazy seller, looking for the negotiation phase to win the deal, instead of really and completely selling it from the start.”
Joe insisted that even when you execute the sale well, “there is always some need to negotiation, if not haggling, negotiations.” Joe, was resolved, “there will always be some discussion of some terms, some conditions, “things like delivery dates, small stuff, but if it is down to full blow negotiations that includes a piece on price, you did not sell the deal to begin with.” Joe said.
Since I could not see them directly, I am not sure if Fred read this next part from a brochure directly or just memorized it, but he said “you know Joe, every dollar you gain through negotiations goes straight to the bottom line.” I could hear Joe chuckle as he calmly replied, “every dollar of value you sell from the time you prospect them, take them through information gathering, through to proposal, also goes to the bottom line, but I don’t have to add an unnecessary stage to the sale, I’d rather sell it, then negotiate it.”
They kept on for a bit, I got off before it ended, I am sure they negotiated an amicable outcome.
But who do you think was right or closer to best practices, Joe who said sellers should sell, or Fred, who I am sure will get something out of his course? Let me know.