I had some fun this week. In preparation for a sales presentation on negotiation skills I did an unannounced mystery shopper on my customer. Sure was fun to use this small sample as a form of evidence in the sales meeting with their senior executive team…smile! After they gave me their thinking of their sales team’s level of selling, I thanked them for their input and then was able to say, “Here is what I observed….”
Actually they are a very successful organization that has experienced tremendous growth but do not want to rest on their past successes: they are looking for small ways to become better—I applaud their efforts. Regardless, I observed many opportunities for improvement like the fact that it was 3.5 minutes before someone greeted me, and when I asked about a product, they immediately went to price as the differentiator. This revealed to me an organizational culture of Level Two sales thinking.
I certainly understood their challenge in holding to established pricing models to grow profit margins. If their culture is at Level Two in meeting price objections rather than at Level Five in selling value, their margins will shrink. What they were asking for is negotiation training to give their sales teams strategies and tactics to sell and hold value other than just lowering the costs.
This is common with most organizations. The ROI can be quite dramatic over a 12-month period. Remember: every dollar that is reduced because we cave to a customer’s demands comes directly from our profits. I wish it was as easy as just sitting sales people down and teaching negotiations processes, principals, and tactics. Why I say this is because it is easy to learn, but harder to apply in the heat of a business discussion. The challenge is to shift our thinking from a Level Two or Three sales rep to a Level Four or Five. Here’s a quick review of the Five Levels…
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Visitor Price Talker Product Peddler Solution Provider Value Engagers
If you are a natural price talker or a product peddler, it will be hard to embrace a Win-Win negotiations strategy with your customers. The shift comes from understanding when we need to stop selling and start negotiating, as well; if we are negotiating when we should be selling, we run the danger of losing the sale completely.
Here is the key: Only negotiate when you know the customer has been sold and now they want to buy you, your product, or service as bad as you want to sell them.
Have fun and bring joy to others!
Human Relation Principal: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.