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Negotiation vs sales

Collection: Business Development Series


“Doctor, doctor, gimme the news. I got a bad case of lovin’ you.”

When he penned those words, the late (and much missed) Robert Palmer provided us with a little example of self-diagnosis. Medically, it’s all too easy these days; Dr Google is but a keystroke away! But self-diagnosis can lead to treatment of the symptoms while the underlying cause remains.

It’s the same in business, especially in the major account B2B sales arena. Clients often come to us presenting symptoms such as:

• “Our salespeople turn good deals into bad deals;”
• “Our margins are too thin, and often disappear when the contract’s signed;”
• “We always feel at a disadvantage going into negotiations;”
• “It seems that we give more than we ever get back.”

Typically, the client has already distilled these symptoms into a need for negotiation training. That’s hardly bad news for us at edoMidas. ‘Negotiating to Win/Win’ is one of our most powerful and popular programmes.

But our consultants like to take a holistic view of our clients’ issues – much like a good clinician – in order to test and challenge the obvious conclusion. They want to probe a bit further, see what’s happening throughout the sales cycle, spend some time with the frontline sellers, even watch them deal with customers.

Often there may indeed be a need for negotiation training. However, with this more rigorous approach, it’s common to find that the problems start far earlier in the sales cycle, with an inability to develop a strong perception of value in the customer’s mind.

Early in the sale – in the Consulting Phase – it is vital to ask the right questions to explore and develop strong needs. Sadly, many sellers rely on simply pitching the features of the product or service as opposed to developing perceptions of value; this actually increases customer views of the overall cost. As customer interest wanes, the only tactic available to sellers to keep the sale moving along is to throw in a few extras or discounts each time.

If those sellers are lucky enough that the sale does edge towards a conclusion, there is usually a final negotiation to agree terms and conditions. But the sellers have already given it all away. The ammunition they should have at their disposal to negotiate a good outcome has all been expended. They can only come to a deal by eating further into the margin or providing expensive extras for free. The sales campaign that looked profitable in the pipeline is no longer.

In contrast, sellers who can build value for what differentiates their product or service go into the negotiation with an armoury of levers and potential trades. Because the customer values their offering highly, discounts and concessions are minimised and both sides can trade their way to an effective deal.

If you would like an audit of your sales cycle from prospect through to final negotiation and beyond and some help building value early on, please contact david.mcdermott@edomidas.com. A training provider who simply takes your order, based on your own self-diagnosis may be prescribing you the wrong solution.
In that case, as Robert Palmer said in the next line…

 

“No pill’s gonna cure my ill.”

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