It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable with negotiation. The vast majority of the population finds negotiation uncomfortable and they allow that discomfort to derail the process. Today’s guest on the Sales Reinvented podcast—Perry Green—shares that it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be a game-changer if you learn how to embrace the discomfort and move beyond it.
Perry Green is a highly accomplished and experienced negotiation executive, with over 25 years in the CPG industry. He is a past recipient of The President’s Award, Nestle’s highest sales honor. He’s currently the Director of The Gap Partnership, the world’s leading negotiation consultancy. Don’t miss this episode packed with expert advice from one of the best negotiators.
Perry points out that salespeople always focus on the ABCs: Always Be Closing. Once we hit our objective, we are high-fiving and celebrating. But with the negotiation process, you have to push yourself to a place where you’re uncomfortable. The deal you’ve “won” may go sideways or fall apart, and that’s hard to cope with. We want to feel good about the relationship, but then we want to get out of there.
Negotiation is an uncomfortable back-and-forth. But Perry points out that we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. One way you can do that is by looking beyond why you’re there. Most salespeople represent a large organization. They represent numerous voiceless and faceless people within that organization. The revenue that you bring in allows those employees to take care of their families.
Perry emphasizes that those are the things we have to think about—versus our own discomfort. We have to focus on the value that we bring to the table.
Perry notes that a successful negotiator needs to be a practitioner of their craft. You need to be someone who is going to practice the craft every single day. If you’re studying body language in negotiation, are you practicing the techniques in conversation with your colleagues? Are you practicing at home? Applying those skill sets in your day-to-day helps them to become natural so that when you’re in an uncomfortable negotiation you’re able to overcome your discomfort.
Perry also recommends embracing the tool of silence. He believes it is the most powerful weapon that you have. Salespeople love to talk, so when we don’t talk it unnerves the other party. It allows us to see what’s going on inside their head. It’s also a tactic we often forget about. Perry believes that if we’re going to say something it should be followed by questions to glean information from the other party. Then you stay silent and listen.
Perry emphasizes: “Don’t ever let your counterparty see you sweat.” Instead, you have to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get out of your own head and don’t spend your time making rationalizations. Don’t focus on trying to figure out where things will go. Instead, get in their head and glean the information you need that will bring you to the outcome that you want. He also notes that you shouldn’t give the other party more power than they already have. Start the negotiation from an equal playing field. To hear more of Perry’s strategies to get comfortable being uncomfortable, keep listening!
When Perry worked for Nestle, he worked with a national retailer that his company had an exciting relationship with. They had been working together for years. During this particular negotiation, they were working on a joint business plan. Both sides kept introducing more variables to try and make the deal work. The negotiation went on for a week.
When they finally reconvened, Perry was ready to do whatever necessary to get the deal done.
But he’ll never forget what his category manager said to him: “Perry, no is an acceptable answer.” Unfortunately, the answer in that negotiation was no. From there on out Perry recognized that he had to get comfortable being uncomfortable and learn to say no when it was necessary. In the end they got better results because they didn’t try to force something and pay too much for it.
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Do you have the right combination of negotiation tools, tactics, and strategies in your arsenal? Do you understand how important it is to develop negotiation skills? In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Kristie Jones shares some of her favorite negotiation tools. She also gives some sage advice about the negotiation process. Don’t miss it!
Kristie Jones is the Principal at the Sales Acceleration Group. Kristie is the go-to expert for tech startup founders who want to accelerate their revenue by improving their sales strategy, process, and people. She uses her 15+ years of experience to help small and mid-sized technology companies take their revenue to the next level.
According to Kristie, negotiation is the process of working toward an agreement on an issue formally not agreed upon. She notes that people don’t regularly see eye-to-eye on numerous topics. So the ability to talk through differences without damaging a business relationship is critical to ongoing and long-term success.
Negotiation gets tricky because people, in general, don’t like to negotiate. Not only that, but most sales reps don’t have the correct formal training or repeatable processes in place that allow them to deal with those situations—and proper training is key. Salespeople have a process for filling funnels. We have cadences and sequences to handle outbound leads, stages in the sales cycle, and more. But Kristie is willing to bet that no one could pull out a repeatable strategy for negotiation.
Kristie points out that you have to seek to understand. She handles negotiation like she would an objection and she handles an objection by asking more questions. When a weird question comes up that seems out of left field, assume that the prospect has had a bad experience. Find out the reason the question is being asked. Find out if they have had adverse experiences. Then differentiate yourself from that past bad experience.
If their question is an unreasonable request, she notes that you are completely free to say: “I wish I could. Unfortunately, this is the situation...” What if you could trade something else for money? If it’s a significant client with nice brand recognition, trade case studies or testimonials for a discount. Or adjust the terms of payment instead of reducing the price. Understanding what is influencing their behaviors can help you reach acceptable terms for both parties.
A negotiation tool that Kristie likes to use is calculating the cost of not coming to an agreement. Make a list of costs to each side and write down the disadvantage of not coming to an agreement. Sellers think “I’ve got a lot more to lose than the prospect or customer if this doesn’t come together.” But that’s not always the case. They may lose face with their boss or their team if they don’t make a deal happen. It might not look favorable for them.
People take negotiation personally—but it’s not your money. It’s the company's money. It is everyone's job to get the best deal for their organization. Kristie also states “Don’t set fire to a bridge you might need to cross later.” Some relationships won’t be repairable if you don’t handle them appropriately. There’s a difference between negotiation and personally insulting or offending the person on the other side of the table. An agitated and upset person will impact your bottom-line more than someone who is happy.
Kristie is a huge fan of Acura, so much so that she’s purchased six of them over the last 20 years. She buys all of her cars from a salesman that refers to himself as “The Polish car guy”. Kristie LOVES the negotiation process and haggling and negotiating with her car guy. They’ve developed a nice banter over the years. She waits for one phrase to come out of his mouth and when it does—she knows she’s won.
She admits she employs the ‘Columbo’ technique. Columbo was a TV detective who would pretend everything was wrapped up and then—on his way out the door—would say “Just one more thing…” She always ends the car-buying process with “I’m going to need new floor mats”.
Kristie notes that you must be prepared and know who you’re dealing with. Know how they’re going to react. She comes to the table having done her homework and knows the market value of the car is and what competitors are offering it for. Do the same with your negotiation and you’ll have a great foundation to work from.
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Asking leading questions may not be permitted in a court of law, but in the negotiation process it is inherently necessary to ask leading questions. Asking the right questions is the #1 negotiation tactic that Ian Moyse emphasizes in this episode of Sales Reinvented. We also chat about his negotiation process, attributes of a successful negotiator, and other tools and tactics he utilizes. Don’t miss it!
Ian Moyse is the EMEA Sales Director at Natterbox and based out of the UK. He is also an industry social influencer who is widely published on matters of Sales Leadership, Social Selling, and Personal Branding. He was awarded the accolade of UK Sales Director of the Year by BESMA and in 2019 was listed in the top 50 Sales Keynote speakers by Top Sales World.
A negotiation consists of two parties who both want something different. You have to talk through questions that arise to get to a mutually agreeable outcome—even if it’s not moving forward together. It’s still a negotiation. The more complex and larger the investment the customer is making, the more variance there is. The more they’re creating their own package, the more the customer is likely to want something different. That’s why Ian believes you must ask leading questions. He also notes that you shouldn’t park the negotiation at the end of the sales process. The earlier you can drive what the customer wants and get the hard points on the table, the better.
A negotiation is only as strong as the questions you ask. Which is why it should include asking leading questions. You want to gain an understanding of the things the customer is looking for that aren’t standard. Whether its payment terms, technology, or licensing—there will always be something that comes up.
Ian notes that a negotiation is simply a discussion around what you can or can’t have, where you can meet, how you can adjust things, and whether or not you can come to a mutual agreement. If you can knock out some of the hard questions early on in the process you shouldn’t get blindsided at the end.
Ian uses the analogy of the Titanic. If the captain had seen the iceberg 10 miles away and made adjustments there wouldn’t have been this big surprise at the end when the ship sank. A negotiation is the same. If you ask leading questions in the beginning, you can usually avoid a sinking ship.
The label “negotiation” often makes a salesperson quake in their boots. Especially because Procurement people are trained how to negotiate and press the buttons of salespeople. They're trained on what to say to a salesperson, what to ask, and how to behave to get the maximum they can out of the process. They are subtle and experienced.
Another tactic that Ian recommends to prepare for the process and alleviate nervousness is to practice. Practice playing the negotiation out with someone. It’s not about having the answers—it’s the method of discussion that you engage in. Roleplay and practice ahead of time.
He also notes that if you’re nervous, bring someone along with you who’s more experienced. If you’re the only person negotiating on your side, you spend your time formulating an answer. If there’s two of you, one can take notes and you can alternate answering questions.
Do you have the knowledge and proper approach so you ask the right questions and handle them appropriately? A customer can ask any question in the world—but it doesn’t mean they’re going to get the answer they want. Likewise, salespeople have the right to ask clarifying questions:
What are the most important things we can address first? Can you elaborate? Can you explain why? Is there anything else you need? Can I clarify what you’re asking?
Get your counterpart to talk more and put everything on the table. If you can discuss some difficult things at the right time and with the right manner of professionalism it puts you in the best position to win.
There is no perfect world. Sometimes—no matter how much you prepare and ask leading questions—a negotiation won’t move forward. It’s the nature of business and negotiation. To hear more of Ian’s expert advice, listen to the whole episode!
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Most salespeople can naturally sense tension but are wholly uncomfortable with it. But healthy tension in negotiation is a normal part of the process that salespeople should embrace. According to today’s guest—Melissa Madian—healthy tension is critical to the success of a negotiation. In this episode of Sales Reinvented she talks about how it influences a negotiation and brings value to both parties. She emphasizes understanding the value you offer and holding firm. To benefit from her years of expertise in the field, listen to this episode!
Melissa Madian is the Founder and Chief Fabulous Officer at TMM Enablement Services Inc. She was one of the first people to pioneer the Sales Enablement role and has spent the past 25 years perfecting the sales experience for revenue-generating teams. Melissa is one of the 15 Top Sales Influencers to Follow in 2020, one of the 20 Women Leaders to Watch in Business in 2018 and ranked 10th of the 35+ Most Influential Women Leading B2B Marketing Technology.
In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Melissa Madian points out that there’s a perception that negotiation happens at the end of the sales cycle. That when we get to that point it’s time to put our gloves on and fight it out. Instead, she emphasizes that you’re always in a state of negotiation. There’s always a balance of give and get. It’s not you versus your customer.
It’s about answering the question: How am I going to make sure we get value and the seller maintains value? In order to do so, you must maintain healthy tension. Melissa’s definition of negotiation is that simple: It’s capturing value while maintaining healthy tension.
Melissa references a McKinsey report in which they shared that for every 5% that we discount our solution or product, 19% of the profit is lost. So when discounts are given because a salesperson would rather concede than operate in tension, all of your value leaks out of the negotiation. It also undermines your position as a valued vendor.
Melissa notes that you need to go into the negotiation with a plan in place and determine what value each party needs to get. Then you need to decide what kind of healthy tension will you maintain in the negotiation so you don’t give up too much—but acquiesce when necessary. It always comes down to: What value am I providing to the customer?
Melissa uses a wonderful analogy of a bartender and a personal trainer. She points out that there is no negotiation process with a bartender. You pay them and they feed you endless drinks until you’re drunk. There is no healthy tension, no give and take. The bartender gives and gives, and you take.
Instead of being a bartender, you must negotiate like a personal trainer. A personal trainer pushes you towards your goals. At any given time, there might be a lot of conflict in the relationship because they’re pushing you to be better. The balance of the relationship is a healthy tension where both parties are pushed towards the same goal.
Melissa emphasizes that good negotiators don’t roll over, they curate healthy tension because they know they’re offering something of value to their customer. You must first know the value of what you’re providing and then hold firm to the value you’re providing so that you don’t lose profit and you maintain your credibility.
In order to know the value you’re providing them you must do your research. You know to know your customer, understand their pain points, and recognize how your product or service is making a positive impact on their company. You must research the potential roles that may get involved, objections that may come up, and do not allow yourself to be surprised by anything that crops up. Do not wing it or you will be blind-sided.
She also implores: Do not assume that the customer won’t pay more money for what you’re providing to them. Customers do not pay solely because an item is well-priced. They pay for the value that it offers them. If you maintain healthy tension in the process you are more likely to succeed. To hear the rest of Melissa’s negotiation strategies and her favorite negotiation story, listen to the whole episode of Sales Reinvented!
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