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Negotiating Skills – Over Rated, Over Played or Overlooked?

Posted by Frank Belzer on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 @ 06:07 AM
Frank Belzer is the Sales Archaeologist and Author of Sales Shift.

“We need help with Negotiating”

“I need to do a better job at Negotiating”

"Can you teach Negotiating skills?"


This is usually a request we hear when something has went wrong, an account has been lost or a company finds that they are losing business at the end of their sales process. But do those symptoms necessarily mean that there is a problem with negotiating?

Negotiation is defined as:

“Gain advantage in outcome of dialog, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests of two person/ parties involved in negotiation process. Negotiation is a process where each party involved in negotiating tries to gain an advantage for themselves by the end of the process. Negotiation is intended to aim at compromise”

Some of that sounds OK but some of it does not. Some of it sounds like there is something horribly wrong with your sales process.

Should it feel like you are trying to gain an advantage? Do you want all of your sales people compromising at the end – usually on price and margin? Sadly the sales training community is partly to blame, for years some trainers have emphasized the power of negotiation and this has somehow found its way into the sales process, curriculum and vocabulary – there are some nice and valuable skills surrounding negotiating but I would say that the best sale happens without any negotiation – if you have done everything right.

Negotiation is Overrated when a sales person goes into the process with that as the goal – “when they start negotiating I see that as a buying sign” and while trying to get there they miss a lot on the way.If that is the goal or an expectation then obviously that will be the outcome.

Negotiation is Overplayed when the sales person starts sharing pricing too early and what they share is intentionally really high - then offers a fake compromise so that the prospect believes they are getting value – car dealers’ love this but are prospects really that stupid?

Negotiation is Overlooked when the sales person blindly plods along and then does not know how to handle resistance or has not tried to uncover resistance or obstacles earlier in the process. When these show up at the end the sales person is surprised and the wheels fall off.

So the answer - it involves following a repeatable process. Not even discussing price until you have established a relationship and uncovered compelling reasons. If the prospect still wants to negotiate you might need to push back and have a candid discussion about why. Regardless of what is said you must stay calm and stay in the moment because a tendency to get emotional will ruin your chances of success.

It is not about the words or what you say - it is not about gaining advantage. It is all about how you feel and what you think!


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