Do you know negotiation techniques you can apply in any given situation? What strategies and tactics should you employ—or leave in the dust? Santino Pasutto is my guest in this episode of Sales Reinvented. He shares the challenges you face in the negotiation process, how to prepare, and some dos and don’ts of upmost importance. Don’t miss this episode focused on negotiation techniques!
Santino ‘Tino’ Pasutto is the Senior Vice President of Strategic and Commercial Development at Optimum Talent. He is a skilled sales and negotiation leader with 15+ years in business management. Tino is known by customers for his strategic approach to uncovering opportunities and helping them understand business issues that once addressed will allow them to improve their competitiveness.
Both parties in a negotiation have shared and opposing interests. The goal of a negotiation is to narrow the gaps between those opposed interests and understand each other’s perspectives to come to an agreement. Tino is careful to note that win-wins aren’t always achievable. But the more you can understand the other person’s point of view, the easier it is to agree.
Another challenging factor for salespeople is that negotiation is an under-trained skill. But you CAN learn, hone, and develop negotiation techniques until you’re skilled. Tino notes that on top of poor training, salespeople probably have an unhealthy sales funnel that stems from poor targeting. Opportunities may be forced and they’re put in a position where they constantly have to negotiate and it’s a price battle. A lot of that stems from prospects that don’t align with your value proposition.
Tino notes that salespeople tend to go in underprepared. But he believes it’s far better to err on the side of being over-prepared—and it’s the first of the negotiation techniques you should employ. Do what you can to gather customer research online, through social media, or LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Extensively research and understand your cost model and your margins and what levers you can pull on. Understanding your numbers helps you understand your walk-away point.
Another tip? Don’t fall in love with the deal because you’ll probably overpay. Tino emphasizes that this is why discovery meetings are so critical. It allows you to gather information on how to position your service relative to the opposing organization’s challenges and issues. You then position your offering and reaffirm your value proposition throughout the negotiation.
Santino implores salespeople: do not deal in maybes. Say “Yes, we can offer that” or “No, we can’t.” Avoid saying “let me check with my boss.” Why? Because it really devalues your position in the negotiation. If you’re waffling on your responses, the person on the other side of the table then realizes that you’re NOT the decision-maker. They’ll keep asking for more, keep pushing back, and it spirals downward. Don’t compromise your position.
You can avoid wishy-washy responses by utilizing negotiation techniques such as scenario planning and determining questions they may ask ahead of time. Plan it out so you don’t have to think on the fly. Tino notes that it’s also important that you be in alignment with your team before you walk in the door. You can’t pass notes under the table during a negotiation. You’ve got to know what the person next to you is thinking and how each of you will respond to questions that arise.
Tino shares that you must know the customer’s problems and how to address them tangibly. How do you make your value proposition tangible so they can compare you with other vendors? It helps you earn credibility going into the conversation. To do so, you need to be inquisitive and ask great questions.
Why is a term or clause important? Why do they value it? Are they asking just to ask? Or is there a misunderstanding between parties? Uncover the entire iceberg. The more you can uncover their problems by asking intelligent questions the more you can understand—and reach your desired outcome.
Ultimately, you want to have a healthy sales funnel so you CAN walk away from poor deals that don’t make sense. Salespeople don’t always think about the fact that opportunities outside of your current negotiation make a positive contribution to the process. You also have to know the math inside and out and know your walkaway point. Lastly, make sure your entire negotiation team is in alignment.
To hear Tino discuss his favorite negotiation techniques in detail, listen to the entire episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast!
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Why should you build options into your negotiation? How do different options influence the potential customer towards making a deal? Does it cheapen your service offering? Sheila Heen joins this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast to share her take on the negotiation process—and why she believes presenting the customer options can be a gamechanger.
Sheila Heen has taught negotiation at Harvard Law School for 20+ years. She is the founder and CEO of Triad Consulting. She also co-authored two New York Times bestsellers: Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Take advantage of her years of experience in negotiation and learn from the best—listen now!
According to Sheila, a negotiation is any interaction you’re having with someone where you’re hoping to influence them—or maybe they influence you. It’s the way decisions get made. The better you are at it the more you learn and the more influence you have. Salespeople struggle with negotiation because it takes their relationship with a customer and strains it. Why?
You’re trying to build a relationship with the people you’re going to serve. You’re learning about their challenges and how you can support what they’re trying to accomplish—then it gets handed to procurement. Suddenly, we have disconnected the negotiation from the underlying needs and it becomes ALL about price. It can feel stressful.
Even worse—in your discomfort—you can give in to their asks. Every time you give in, you’re teaching them how to negotiate with you.
Sheila believes you need to understand the client’s challenges. What are they trying to accomplish? What have they tried already? What has or hasn’t worked in the past? Who are they trying to influence internally? What else is on their mind? Who do they have to negotiate with to get a green light on this?
Who are the key stakeholders who—if they really buy into what you’re doing—are going to be their biggest advocates? It doesn’t always align with whoever has the official job titles. You must listen to find out who the decision-makers are in their world. You must equip your counterpart to be prepared for the internal negotiations they’ll have with those influencers. Sheila points out that “The success of my negotiation hinges on the success of their negotiations.”
Another tip that Sheila shares is that you must listen carefully for the language and vocabulary that your counterpart uses internally. Incorporate everything you’ve learned into your proposal—using their own terminology that’s familiar to them. Secondly, you must create different budget options for them in the proposal. For example:
By having a couple of options that test the waters, it actually flushes out they're real interests and constraints. Presenting them with options also gives them an out—if we are going to save some money, what are the tradeoffs? Make it a joint problem for both of you to solve. Perhaps you can’t deliver the same thing for less, but you can work together to deliver as much value as possible for their investment.
Negotiating this way helps them feel like they have the autonomy to choose the best fit for them. They always know more about their context and the reactions that they're going to get in their internal conversations than you do.
Sheila emphasizes that the ability to listen is the most important attribute a salesperson can have. She’s recently talked to a vendor about a platform to use for the upcoming school year. The vendor didn’t ask her a SINGLE question. She didn’t ask questions about Sheila’s class, what she was concerned about, or what she needed.
Instead, the saleswoman immediately launched into showing her the features of the platform. It didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Even just five minutes of asking questions about Sheila’s needs and concerns—followed by the same presentation—would have yielded dramatically different results. What a missed opportunity.
Sheila shares her favorite tools, tactics, and strategies AND her top 3 negotiation dos and don’ts plus her favorite negotiation story. This episode is packed full of useful information—don’t miss it!
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Do you know how to use leverage in negotiation? Or are you afraid to come across as demanding, therefore harming your relationship with a prospect? Today’s guest on the Sales Reinvented podcast—Steve Hall—shares how you can use leverage in negotiation that creates a mutually beneficial outcome for all sides.
Steve is the Managing Director of Executive Sales Coaching of Australia and is recognized as Australia's leading authority on selling at sea level. He is a member of the Sales Experts Channel and has been a finalist in several categories in the Top Sales World Awards. Don’t miss out on his expertise in negotiation—listen now!
Negotiation is an important part of life. It’s also an integral part of the entire selling and business process. With it being such a normal part of our existence, why do salespeople hate it so much? Steve believes that salespeople want to be liked and prefer not to make demands of people. They’re afraid to negotiate because they’re afraid they will lose the deal. They have this faulty belief that the customer has all of the power and leverage in negotiation. This belief stems from a complete lack of formal negotiation training for salespeople. Of course they don’t like it, because they don’t understand it. And you fear what you can’t understand.
Steve emphasizes negotiation preparation begins with: research, research, research. You must understand what your outcome is, and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s not typically about money and usually other factors are involved. It isn’t just making a sale or completing a contract—but an outcome that works for both sides. What is their desired outcome? What are they trying to achieve? Who are you talking to—procurement? Or are you negotiating with the CEO?
The key is knowing what you want, knowing what they want, and anticipating what they might demand and ask for. Anticipate what you can offer. Having things ready increases the chance of leveraging the negotiation and getting what you want while giving the other person what they want. You must also remember, If you’ve been dealing with someone 6–12 months, they have skin in the game, too.
Steve sold software in the 90s and his customers would often delay their decision-making when they were nearing the end of the year. They knew if they delayed long enough they had the potential to squeeze in some year-end deals. Conversely, if the other party has a strong deadline they have to meet—and you don’t—it’s negotiation leverage in your favor. Another tactic you can use to leverage the negotiation? Get your counterpart to agree to a small decision. This increases the likelihood that they’ll commit to a larger decision down the road.
Steve references a TV Show called Black Books (about a bookshop in England) to drive home his point about properly using leverage in a negotiation. In an episode of the show, a customer comes up to the counter and says “This book is being sold for 5 pounds, can I have it for 4 pounds?” The owner acquiesces—but tears out the last chapter before selling it to the customer. The next day, the customer comes back and says “I’ve got to know what happens!” and the bookshop owner says “Sure! Give me twenty pounds.” He had all the leverage on his side, and the customer had no choice but to comply.
Steve shares another story from a move two years ago. He moved houses and had to get his phone reconnected. He went to the phone company and was trying to set it up, but also wanted to set up streaming services. They said they couldn’t set it up immediately as he had requested because the phone wasn’t connected—but they’d send the box two weeks later because “It was their policy.” He asked to speak to a supervisor and was still turned down.
So he went online and found an article in which the Managing Director of Customer service was interviewed. The article was all about how they had transformed their customer service and were customer-focused. Their main motto was “Yes we can.” So he called customer service again and mentioned he was writing an article about their customer service. He pointed out that the article the Managing Director was interviewed in didn’t meet the reality he was facing. He allowed them to respond—and they sent him the box and the service was active shortly after.
He created leverage by using their own words to his favor and he got exactly what he wanted. The moral of the story? Always find leverage in negotiation.
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Intellectual curiosity is a curiosity that leads to the acquisition of knowledge. The intellectually curious have a deep and authentic need to understand the world and the people around them. In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Mike Macchiarelli shares how intellectual curiosity influences the negotiation process. Don’t miss this episode!
Mike Macchiarelli has over ten years’ experience in B2C selling as a salesperson, trainer, and manager. During his time with Equinox—a global luxury-lifestyle fitness brand—he won numerous awards and has helped to train over 1,000 salespeople. He also is well known for his online blog, Saving Face, where he writes about sales, negotiation, and leadership.
The biggest hurdle to overcome in the negotiation process is preparation. Mike sets aside time in his calendar to prepare on paper, to think through what is about to happen and strategically formulate his approach. But Mike points out that no matter how strategic or well-crafted your approach is, you have to be prepared to change it throughout the negotiation.
It’s a journey with different stages and you have to be flexible. You have to mentally prepare to go back and forth 5-8 times (or more) and adapt your strategy along the way. One of Mike’s favorite approaches is from Michael Wheeler’s book ‘The Art of Negotiation’. In its simplest form, you must: learn, adapt, and influence. Keep listening to hear more about his approach!
Mike emphasizes that a salesperson at his or her core needs to be curious. Curiosity trumps all. The entire sales and negotiation process is a process of exploration and discovery. You must have the curiosity to discover what’s truly driving the other person and what’s going to meet their needs. So much of what you need to know is hidden under the surface. It takes curiosity to ask the right questions to gather the necessary information. You must actively listen to understand and have empathy throughout the process.
An exercise that Mike recommends to build your curiosity muscle is to take a sheet of paper and list out everything you know about the current situation: Who are the people you’ll be negotiating with? What is their professional background? What about personal information? What are they looking for? Who are the stakeholders? What issues may crop up?
In another column write everything you’re wondering based on what you know. It enables you to train your intellectual curiosity and come up with a million great questions and avenues to explore during your negotiation. It also helps you focus on the driving factors and motivations of the other person.
Mike shares his top negotiation do’s and don’ts—and why price is rarely the issue in a failed negotiation—so keep listening!
Mike is a huge history buff. One of his favorite negotiation stories happened during JFK’s presidency: The Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States found out that Russia had been building and storing missiles in Cuba. The situation could’ve easily escalated into conflict—maybe even a nuclear war. But when the two countries negotiated, they allowed each party to save face. They consciously applied empathy and placed themselves in the other person's shoes before they made moves that could exacerbate the situation.
Mike points out that you must never back a person into a corner or make them look bad in front of other people. A negotiation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The people you negotiate with will always have to explain their decisions to another person. They have to think about whether or not the deal will reflect well on them. It’s part of the social conditioning built around making a deal. It’s our job to help them feel confident and certain they can justify their decision to another person. They’ll go through with the agreement if they are confident in the deal being made.
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Why is knowing your walk-away point so important in a negotiation? How does it influence the process? In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Diane Helbig shares her thoughts on knowing your floor—your bottom-line walk-away point—and why it’s such an important part of the negotiation process.
Diane Helbig is an international business advisor, sales trainer, and growth accelerator. She is the author of Succeed Without Selling and the host of the Accelerate Your Business Growth podcast. Don’t miss her unique take on the negotiation process!
Diane’s negotiation process always includes calculating her walk-away point. It simply means that she writes out the point she is willing to walk away if an agreement can’t be made. She emphasizes that you must know this before you walk into the negotiation conversation.
Secondly, you must let the other party speak. You need to ask questions to understand their walk-away point. If you know their floor and ceiling, you can identify where you’ll meet in the middle. Diane implores salespeople to listen without a preconceived idea or agenda other than to learn. It’s critically important. Be quiet, calm, and hear what they’re saying and create healthy dialogue.
Don’t make assumptions about any part of the negotiation process. Don’t assume anything—the conclusion, where they’re coming from, and what the customer needs or wants. Diane points out that this is a recipe for disaster.
Another ‘don’t’ that Diane believes is important: Don’t respond to things you don’t hear. Salespeople have a bad habit of hearing what someone is saying but responding with a different or competing thought. They tend to come into the conversation with ONE thing they believe the customer needs to know or ONE solution they’re dead-set on offering. When a salesperson responds to what they wish was asked—it causes a massive disconnect. It’s all well and good to be prepared to convey your underlying value message. But If it isn’t brought up—there’s no point in mentioning it.
15 years ago Diane had decided to leave the company she was working for. She created an agreement and a process that she wanted to approach her employer with. She created a strategy and she told the owner she wanted to change their relationship. She wanted to be paid a commission on each of her customer’s sales, not a salary.
The owner said no to her request. So she asked him to sit down to have a conversation about it. As she listened to him, she realized his reasons for saying no weren’t in the best interest of the business, but about staying in control. She knew what her walk-away point was and they hit a point where she just said she’d give him her two-week notice—and he backed off.
So they started to negotiate her commission. She wasn’t asking for commissions on sales with the highest paying clients or the other 180 she worked with—just the 20 clients she had a strong relationship with. They finally agreed on terms.
When Diane went back to sign the paperwork and asked “What do you want to tell people about what I’m doing?”. He questioned why he would need to tell them anything. She pointed out that if a client called that she wasn’t working with anymore, someone would have to tell them something.
She realized he hadn’t paid attention to that portion of her conversation or the addendum in the paperwork. She ended up getting ALL of her clients and got exactly what she wanted and more while he got exactly what he wanted. She learned that you must be quiet, calm, and confident in the moment. The success of this negotiation was because she knew the value of what she had to offer and was confident with her walk-away point.
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