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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