The Most Successful Negotiation is The Negotiation That Isn't Needed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 09, 2019 @ 05:12 AM

driving-in-the-snow

The last few years it seems that each time it snows, even a little, they cancel school.  Are school officials convinced that parents and bus drivers will put kids' safety in jeopardy because snow is falling?  They weren't worried about such things when I was growing up  and back then, we didn't have cell-phones, all-wheel drive, anti-lock breaks, traction control, all-weather radials, blind spot warning, collision warning or lane assist!  Winter drivers are better equipped to deal with snow than at any time in history so cancelling school every time it snows doesn't make any sense.

Another thing that doesn't make any sense is the "Negotiate" step I see in the sales processes of most companies.  Why is it there?  Why are we negotiating?  What are we negotiating? How are we negotiating?  The only thing that's clear is when we are negotiating and apparently, it occurs just prior to closing.  Like cancelling school when it snows, it doesn't make any sense.

If we begin with the concept of why we are negotiating, it might answer the what and how questions too. If our salespeople are thoroughly qualifying, and they get their prospects to agree to share their budget, agree to a dollar amount or range, or better yet, that they'll spend more to do business with us, we should never have to negotiate prices, fees or cost.  Is that step in most sales processes?  It sure as sh*t should be!

So if we shouldn't be negotiating the price, are we negotiating terms?  In my experience, when salespeople qualifying properly, only terms need to sometimes be negotiated.  In the normal world, sellers set their terms; not buyers.  But in Bizarro sales world buyers (at most big companies) try to bully sellers into agreeing to their ridiculous terms. 

This week, one company said that their terms are Net 75.  I said, "I'm sorry, but we can't solve your problem and be your bank.  Our terms are due on receipt of invoice and it's non-negotiable." 

They said, "Oh, OK."

I could have said, "If you can get us 50% on receipt of invoice, we'll let you pay the balance net 30.  Would that have been a negotiation?  Of course it would.  But it would be the exception, not the rule, and it wouldn't require a negotiation step in the sales process!

The existence of a step in the sales process requires that we must always execute this step.  The belief that we must negotiate price, terms, deliverables or anything else puts salespeople in a situation where they are expected to sacrifice profitability.  And companies wonder why their margins are being squeezed.

According to data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of 1,925,985 salespeople, only 13% of all salespeople have the Negotiator competency as a strength. Only 13%!!  If you force your salespeople to negotiate, most of them will give away the farm!  OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and while the Negotiator competency isn't one of the 21, you can see the data on the 21 Sales Competencies and how you and your salespeople compare here,

Instead of negotiating, your salespeople should be mastering selling value.  Selling value completely neutralizes the need for negotiating and while fewer than 50% of all salespeople have the Value Seller competency as a strength, that's a lot better than the percentage of salespeople who can negotiate.

Stop telling your salespeople to negotiate and get them the training and coaching they need to effectively sell value.  The most successful negotiation is one that never occurs.

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, negotiating, selling value

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 14:04 PM

report.jpg

 Image Copyright Shironosov

One of OMG's sales candidate assessment clients in Europe purchased two goldfish. In keeping with their tradition, the client named the two fish, Recommended and Not Recommended.  Surprisingly, recruiting salespeople was not one of the topics addressed in the Richardson 2017 Selling Challenges Study.  Meghan Steiner, from Richardson, was nice enough to send me a copy of the results.  There were a number of interesting findings and of course I had some insights from the report.

Respondents said the following issues are challenges for their companies:

  • 24% said gaining higher prices 
  • 20% said closing win/win deals
  • 17% said maintaining profitability
  • 24% said competing against a low cost provider
  • 16% said creating a compelling case for change
  • 19% said customers who continue to reopen the negotiation
  • 15% said positioning a competing value proposition

The 7 findings I listed above came from two different chapters of the report.  Higher prices, win/win deals and profitability came from the chapter on Negotiation.  Positioning, reopening negotiations, competing against low cost providers and the case for change came from the chapter on closing.  

It is clear to me that if you combine those 7 challenges, the real problem
these companies have is that their salespeople are unable to sell value!

The findings came from a survey where most of the 300+ respondents were from companies larger than $500 million, with sales quotas generally running more than $1 million each.

How do the findings compare with OMG's scientific data from the evaluation of 2 million salespeople from 30,000 companies?  Let's compare!

The average score for the Selling Value competency is 56 which means that the salespeople in the 370,000 rows of data in my query have, on average, 56% of the attributes in the Selling Value competency.  You can see that the top 10% are significantly more effective and the bottom 10% are significantly worse!

value2.jpgAnother way of looking at this competency is to determine the percentage of salespeople who have selling value as a weakness.  

68% of the salespeople I looked at were weak at Selling Value.  

OMG's data shows that selling value is a much greater issue than the survey suggests.  The likely reason for this is that respondents from large companies probably don't understand the reasons why they have the seven issues bulleted above.  They only recognize the symptoms.

You can see the attributes of the Selling Value competency in this screen shot from a sales force evaluation.

value-1.jpg

When companies mistakenly believe that their problems lie in negotiating and closing, they tend to seek training on negotiating and closing!  When the real problem is selling value, the training needs to be on what the selling conversations should sound like when you take a more consultative approach, sales process to support a consultative approach, a value-based pricing strategy, and training on selling value.

Here are four other things you should do:

1. See how your salespeople compare to others in your industry and to salespeople in general in any or all of the 21 Sales Core Competencies with OMG's complimentary stat finder tool.

2. Select only strong (16%) and elite (7%) salespeople with OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.

3. Become more effective coaching your salespeople in all 21 Sales Core Competencies 

4. Download the 2017 Sales Challenges Study from Richardson.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, close more sales, negotiating, objective management group, selling value, Richardson, OMG Assessment

Why Salespeople Need to Negotiate and 10 Other Timely Sales Lessons

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 05, 2016 @ 12:05 PM

negotiation-1.jpg

Regular readers know that I have written more than 1,400 articles to help them better Understand the Sales Force.  Some of the articles won awards.  A few were stinkers.  I intended for all of them to be very helpful and I believe they are.  Over the years, some of my favorite articles were completely overlooked, getting relatively few reads compared with the most popular articles that were viewed by tens of thousands of people.

Today I wrote an article for LinkedIn that not only explains Donald Trump's rise to presumptive GOP nominee, but identifies ten, great selling lessons associated with his rise.  It doesn't matter whether you love, hate or are neutral to Trump, I invite you to read my observations and lessons and contribute to the conversation.  You can read the Trump article here.

Speaking of lessons, when salespeople miss key milestones in the sales process – and they are often missed – it leads to proposals and/or quotes that rely on guesswork instead of facts, assumptions instead of agreements, and hope instead of acceptance. When salespeople send proposals to their prospects, they hope the proposal will do the selling for them, but it causes one of four things to happen instead. An article I wrote that appears today on the Selling Power Blog identifies those missed milestones and the four things that happen instead.  You can read the Selling Power article here.  

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales lessons, time management, negotiating, sales groups on linkedin, Donald Trump, sellingpower, sales milestones

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

manning

Did you ever watch Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers have a bad day at Quarterback?  Did you notice that the following day, everyone was saying that he sucked?  While it's possible that these three Quarterbacks could have a bad day, most of their bad days are less about them and more about whether or not their offensive lines gave them the time and protection they needed to find an open man and make a good pass.  It could also have something to do with whether or not their receivers were able to quickly get open.  Give a good Quarterback enough time and they will make you pay.  Put enough pressure on them and they can look as bad as anyone else.  In football, it's all about cause and effect.  Bad quarterbacking by a good Quarterback is usually the effect, not the cause of the bad performance.

The same thing is true in sales.  We get calls and emails here all day long from busy executives of growing companies who mistakenly believe that they know what they need help with.  The Top 5 Requests are:

  1. Selling Value
  2. Negotiating Skills
  3. Presentation Skills
  4. Forecasting
  5. Closing Skills

In fairness, most salespeople could stand to improve in these areas, but these are not root causes as much as they are effects.  These five items are the sales equivalent to Quarterbacks having a difficult day.  What we really need to know are, what are the sales equivalents to the offensive line's ability to protect and the receiver's ability to get open?  Let's review these one by one.

Selling Value

Establishing indisputable value to a customer is an outcome based on a collection of capabilities.  It requires that a salesperson have supportive Sales DNA, specifically in the areas of being comfortable talking about money, having a high money tolerance, being a value buyer and not needing to be liked.  It requires that salespeople have consultative selling skills in order to differentiate, uncover compelling reasons to buy from them, and conduct the conversation nobody else is having.  It requires having the ability to connect all the dots, in just the right way, at just the right time.  And finally, there must be a philosophy about selling value and related strategy in place.  To learn more about selling value, join me on November 25 for our presentation on How to Sell Value in Modern Times.  Click here to register.

Negotiating

Negotiating is a trap door that salespeople fall through when, as with value selling, they lack the complete collection of capabilities required to avoid negotiating.  Negotiating is not something in which salespeople should strive to improve.  It's something they can completely avoid.  They must have supportive Sales DNA, specifically, an ability to stay in the moment, be rejection-proof, and not need to be liked.  Even more than with selling value, salespeople must be able to uncover that compelling reason to do business with them and differentiate better than anyone else to have the conversation that nobody else is having with their prospects.  It requires that they have the ability to quantify, cost-justify, and provide a compelling argument for ROI.  Finally, avoiding negotiation requires salespeople to possess excellent qualifiying skills!

Presentation Skills

A presentation is only as good as what was presented, why it was presented, who it was presented to and when it was presented.  Most salespeople present features and benefits instead of solutions, present too early in the sales process, present to the wrong people, and present for the wrong reasons.  The real cause here is a faulty sales process, with demos and presentations mistakenly being sequenced as a milestone to gain interest, instead of a milestone to seal the deal.

Forecasting

A forecast is a human prediction being made by software applications.  The problem is not with the software, as much as it's with the humans that enter the data and override the variables.  The real blame must be given to sales process and qualification. Sales processes that have been inappropriately staged and sequenced will always cause forecasting nightmares.  When it comes to qualification, there are usually two issues.  The first is that salespeople regularly fail to thoroughly qualify because they have chronic cases of Happy Ears.  The second issue is that qualification frequently occurs at the wrong time - either much too early in the sales process, before a prospect has a compelling reason to participate in qualification, or way too late in the process, when salespeople finally learn why a deal hasn't yet closed.

Closing Skills

It appears to many that closing skills are perhaps the most important set of skills a salesperson could have, but the science says otherwise.  Closing is an outcome that occurs naturally and easily after salespeople have thoroughly and effectively navigated all of the prior milestones and stages in their sales process.  Therefore, an apparent lack closing skills is really caused by an ineffective sales process, insufficient Sales DNA, a large skill gap, and most importantly, an inability to sell consultatively and thoroughly qualify.

Do you like my Blog?  Support it by voting for Understanding the Sales Force as Top Sales Blog at Top Sales Awards.

Register for the Top 5 Hidden Factors That Determine the Fate of Your Sales Force - a 45-minute presentation on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.

Read my article over at the Hubspot Blog - What Effective Role Playing Sounds Like.

Topics: sales process, negotiating, sales forecast, selling value, sales presentation skills

The Difference Between Selling to Negotiators and Price Shoppers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 02, 2010 @ 06:02 AM

I was introduced to Michael, an expert in multi-cultural selling who wrote this must read top 10 Myths About Multicultural Customers.

I love #8 on Negotiators.  Salespeople often confuse the prospect who needs to negotiate with one who must have the lowest price and as Michael says so often in his article, nothing could be further from the truth. 

The negotiator simply needs to win - to get a better price than the one you started with.  The price shopper wants to go with the lowest price.  It is much simpler to do the break and shake (my tag for providing a price break and shaking on it) and be done with it, then it is for you to give away the farm with a price shopper who may not care about your value proposition, storied history, legendary quality, or unsurpassed customer service.  On the other hand, any one of those may be the very thing the price shopper is demanding - but at a lower price than anyone else can offer.  

Selling successfully to both the negotiator and the price shopper takes good strategy, effective tactics, and timing - you must know when to employ them.  For instance, with the negotiator, one can't simply give the price break to get it over with because the negotiator believes that now that there has been movement from the starting price, there can be yet more movement. You must learn how to offer only a single concession and have that be good enough for a win-win.  With the price shopper, you must become expert at leveraging the one thing other than price that is so important, build compelling reasons around it, and use the resulting urgency to drive up your value.

Most executives who read this won't have to deal with negotiators very often for it tends to be industry specific in America.  It tends to be part of the car shopping and home buying experiences, and you'll see it at flea markets too.  Price shoppers are out there.  Objective Management Group's statistics show that about 20% of the sales population buys this way and they are the most likely group to show up with the lowest margins.

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, selling, Sales Force, Michael Lee, multicultural selling, price shopping, negotiating

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,800 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee


MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

2019-Silver-BlogIndi
9 Consecutive Years!

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


2019-Gold-AssessTool
9 Consecutive Years!

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader