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!
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK