Author: Sean O'Shaughnessey

Curiosity May Not Kill The Cat, But It Definitely Kills Your Quota

Curiosity May Not Kill The Cat, But It Definitely Kills Your Quota

Salespeople are often told to “pitch” their products and services. This is ineffective because it leaves the prospect feeling like they were manipulated and ignored. Instead, the successful salesperson should use curiosity; curiosity is an emotion that encourages people to find out more about you or your company. 

If you want to increase your success rate at closing deals with prospects, try incorporating curiosity into your conversation by asking open-ended questions.

Podcaster Robert Gillette recently interviewed me for his podcast, Reclaiming Sales. In that podcast (which you can listen to here and read the transcript here), I said that salespeople fail because they are not curious.

Some sales trainers will encourage salespeople to be incredibly knowledgeable about a prospect’s business to show situational awareness. In almost all cases, this is a bad strategy. Why would you know more about how that company runs than the managers of the company do? To suggest that you are more capable of running your prospect’s company than they are leaves you open to appearing overly pompous. It is much better to be humble and ask sincere questions about their operations.

“You make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

For decades, marketers have known that the best way to keep someone’s attention is by piquing their curiosity. If they’re interested in what you’ve got, they’ll stick around and interact with your message. It seems like such a simple idea, but it’s one of the most powerful tools in marketing today.

The same principle of generating curiosity applies to salespeople, too: if prospects are curious about what we can offer them, they will be more likely to invest time working with us on their request or inquiry than not engaging at all. For this technique to work, though, there has to be something worth being curious about–something that captures people’s imagination.

Recent research suggests that salespeople who are curious about their prospects and customers are more likely to close deals than those who only focus on what they need from them. Curiosity helps us get our prospect’s perspectives to understand better how they think and why they act as they do, which allows us to connect with them on an emotional level and make them want to buy from us.

Salespeople have a unique ability to create curiosity. They can do this by asking insightful, thought-provoking questions that pique the interest of their prospects and customers. To maximize their success in creating curiosity, salespeople must be knowledgeable about what they are selling and how it can benefit the customer or prospect. A salesperson creates curiosity when there is an air of mystery with an underlying promise of satisfaction for those who invest time learning more about the product or service.

The best salespeople create curiosity and capture the attention of their prospects. They do this by creating a dialogue about themselves, their company, or the product they’re selling. You accomplish this through storytelling, humor, and empathy. These are the three legs of your offering that I often discuss on this site.

There are a few ways to use your presentation skills to engage with your audience and generate curiosity. Here are some examples:

  • Quote someone famous, like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, who has said something about their business
  • Give them a story from just last week or last month where they helped someone solve a problem they were having
  • Ask, “What are your biggest business challenges?”
  • Ask, “How do you measure success in your organization?”
  • Ask, “How did you justify that old purchase to your executives?”
  • Ask, “What’s essential in life for you?”
  • Ask, “How do you feel when this happens?”
  • Ask, “How does that work?”
  • Ask, “How did you decide to do it that way?”

In addition, by asking prospects about their company’s goals, salespeople can better understand how they work and what tools they need to succeed.

If you’re a salesperson, it’s essential to know the business problems your customers are facing. That way, you can make sure that what you offer will be relevant and valuable to them. It also helps if you have some ideas for solutions. At least have a list of questions about what they’re looking to accomplish and their company and personal goals. The more information you have about their needs, the better you’ll identify potential solutions and put together a tailored proposal specifically for them. So next time someone asks, “What do I need?” remember these three key points:

  1. Ask why they need it;
  2. Figure out how this will help solve their problem;
  3. Make sure it fits with other items on their agenda.
Using LinkedIn To Drive Relationships

Using LinkedIn To Drive Relationships

Much has been written about how to find prospects on LinkedIn. There are good LinkedIn prospecting strategies and bad strategies out there in the wide open Internet, but in this article, I want to discuss how to cultivate great relationships with someone that you have identified as being a prospect for your product.

You should probably focus on the top five to ten companies you want to increase your relationship with. If you haven’t already built your A, B, and C account list, I suggest you start there. If you don’t know how to build that list, I suggest you read my book Eliminate Your Competition.

You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

If you do not know someone at one of your top 10 accounts, that is not a reason to skip them. You must build that relationship.

You will create these relationships by leveraging:

  • Your best clients.
  • Your former employers and former co-workers.
  • People that your prospect respects.

The best way to make a connection to your unknown prospects is via the social platform LinkedIn. The site is arguably the most important social platform for business and especially for salespeople. According to HubSpot, 65% of B2B companies report that they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn.

According to Jim Keenan, the social sales specialist in the “The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue” report, 78.6% of salespeople using social media to sell outperformed those who weren’t using social media. Also, social media users were 23% more successful at exceeding their quota by at least 10% than their non-social media peers. In a recent study, non-social media users were 90% or less of their quota 15% more often than social media users.

LinkedIn is often identified as the place to go to look for your next job. Certainly, it is used extensively by recruitment consultants the world over to find and approach candidates. But to look at it this way is to do the network a significant disservice.

LinkedIn is a great way for you to build your personal brand. As I have explained elsewhere, customers buy from you based on three criteria – your product, your company, and you. LinkedIn is an excellent way to build that third component of your value portfolio.

It would help if you were using LinkedIn as a source of new leads and tangible revenue. In fact, for business to business (B2B), LinkedIn is a critical tool that can make your prospecting faster, smoother, and, ultimately, more profitable.

Contacts are the power of LinkedIn. If your contacts are predominantly family, friends, and old school pals, you’ve got some work to do. Your first-level contacts open up a route to a full range of second and third-level connections. This is how you scale your network. Strike while the iron’s hot – whenever you meet anyone (online or off), always follow up quickly with a connection request while you are still fresh in his or her mind.

It would be best if you used LinkedIn to map out the decision-makers within your target prospects. In a complex sale, there are numerous people involved in making and influencing a purchase.

When you meet an individual, you can learn a great deal about that person. Many people are quite open on their LinkedIn profiles. You can frequently discover which team they’re on, which office they work out of, and what projects they’re focusing on. With a little detective work, you can quickly build up a picture of who you should be talking to, what they’re like, and what they’ve done before. Make sure you read the recommendations that they have written and written about them, as this gives you an idea of who influences them.

With LinkedIn, you can almost always learn enough about someone to make your call more relevant and useful to them. And it’s not simply a case of digital stalking.

You should pay particular attention to changes in profile, status updates, connections in common, and anything they’ve posted to a group (which can be reason enough to call them in the first place).

One of the easiest ways to become known to a prospect is to like or comment on anything that the prospect has posted. This won’t propel the prospect to reach out to you, but at least you will not be a stranger. After a couple of appropriate comments, the prospect will likely be much more interested in having a conversation with you.

Commenting on your prospect’s activity is also important within the forums or groups. You should join the groups that your top prospects frequent. When you are viewing your prospect within the group, you can follow their activity. Following a prospect allows you to have their updates and conversations in your LinkedIn feed.

If you are not connected to the prospect, then use InMail to make that first introduction. InMail is LinkedIn’s internal email system and allows you to send an email to any LinkedIn user. It ensures your email gets through to their inbox. LinkedIn claims that an InMail is 30 times more likely to get a response than a cold call. You can also ask to link to them. However, you should be very careful that you don’t abuse this privilege. Too many LinkedIn connection requests that are denied will make the manager of LinkedIn suspicious that you are using their platform as a spam tool.

LinkedIn has a fabulous search function. With their advanced search, you can find people by title, company, location, or keyword. By intelligently mixing the different filters, you can get deep and identify key individuals quickly and easily.

You can also save your search criteria and get a weekly report listing anyone new who matches the criteria. For example, you could save a search for Database Administrators in the retail industry within 50 miles of Atlanta. Then, each week, you will get an email with anyone new who matches the search criteria.

Information is king. This statement is particularly the case when it is account news. With information, you can make appropriate decisions. As any salesperson will know, change creates opportunity. People join, people leave, companies make important announcements – any change can present a good reason to get in touch and offer to help. More than that, information on your prospect allows you to:

  • Respond to the events affecting your customers and prospects.
  • Have background talking material during your sales calls.
  • Find opportunities.
  • Establish financial justification for your opportunities.

There is a lot of information to gather about your accounts. You need a quick and convenient way to review the highlights of your account news so that it doesn’t overwhelm you. LinkedIn makes discovering these changes easy. You can follow any company that has a LinkedIn page. That way, you’ll see anything that changes directly in your updates. It’s an easy way to stay up to date and spot new opportunities.

Header Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay
Top Sales People Want To Work On The Best Teams

Top Sales People Want To Work On The Best Teams

I recently met with one of my clients to discuss the company’s sales team. They had ten salespeople on their team.

Five of the salespeople had brought in about 40-45% of the company’s revenue, and two others also brought in about 40-45% of his revenue. A bigger problem, though, was the remaining three that only brought in 10-15%. Those three were dragging down the team.

The biggest problem that the President was starting to realize was that the top two performers were becoming disgruntled and would probably leave the company. As I did my initial interviews with these two, they confided in me they had become frustrated that every time the company needed more revenue, the challenge was given to them to bring it in the door.

To keep their spirits up, I told them that these challenges were an honor. Like in basketball, you have your best players on the floor when the score is tied, with a minute left in the 4th quarter. One of them replied, “But if the 7th man would have made his four free throws, two layups, and grabbed those two defensive rebounds in the 3rd quarter, the score wouldn’t be tied at the end.”

Great people want to be surrounded by great people. Top athletes want to play on the same team as other top athletes. Top salespeople want to work in the same company as other top salespeople.

Every salesperson knows that s/he is only part of the manager’s number. The manager’s number is probably 90% of the sum of the team. If there are ten people on the team and three of them are not doing their job, then the manager’s pressure doesn’t go to the struggling three; it goes to the top salespeople. They are challenged to bring in more deals in the quarter. They need to be creative and sell more product upgrades or pull in a sale from next quarter by offering a great deal. They don’t want to do this, but the manager needs the revenue. This deal-making puts the top salespeople an opportunity or two down for the next quarter. Now they have to push even harder to get to even.

Just like in football, the team doesn’t win if everyone isn’t doing their job. Linemen need to block, running backs need to run fast and not fumble, and wide receivers need to catch the ball in bounds. Every individual position contributes to the success of the team.

Good salespeople on an underperforming team feel like Sisyphus trying to get the stone to the top of the hill. Nothing they do is good enough. They are frequently asked to do more while seeing their less-skilled peers praised or even rewarded for just getting by.

The solution is obvious, but it may not be easy if you are not an experienced sales manager. You need to “trade up” on sales reps that cannot perform. Yes, you need to train underperforming contributors, but at a certain point, you cannot wait anymore. Underperforming salespeople will frequently perform better in their next job, so do not despair too much. Those at the bottom of the leaderboard are seldom happy and content. If they are content, then you have an even bigger problem.

The next step in trading up is even more critical. You need to find talent that will perform. This isn’t easy, but it also isn’t rocket science. Don’t advertise in all of the usual places. You will be inundated with applicants, and finding that needle in the haystack is virtually impossible. Rely on a competent recruiter to find you qualified candidates and only qualified candidates. This will cost you a bit of money, but it will be a fraction of the cost of a bad hire, and it will be faster and use less of your resources.

Once that recruitment agency has found you 2-4 high-quality candidates, you should put the candidate through a test. There are many of them out there, but I suggest PXT Select Specialized Behavioral Assessment for Sales. PXT Select is a unique selection assessment that fills the gap between the resume and the interview. Powered by the latest assessment technology, PXT Select drives a suite of reports that that are useful throughout the employee lifecycle. Its suite of sales-specific reports focuses on an individual’s approach to critical sales practices, helping you gain insight and confidence in hiring the right salespeople.

The most significant risk in having a sales organization with too many non-performing salespeople is that your top performers will get frustrated and leave. Top people want to be around other top people. If you do not have a strategy to improve continually, you may find yourself in real trouble as your best salespeople become free agents and join a championship team.

Take my free online Sales Agility Assessment or contact me via my contact page to learn how I can help your business build a top-performing sales team and process.

I originally published this article with a different title on the blog for one of my business partners, Breakaway Sales Recruiting.

36 Weeks Before Glue Works, Inc. Purchase Order Case Study

36 Weeks Before Glue Works, Inc. Purchase Order Case Study

This is a week-by-week case study of four salespeople

  • Amy Gatherer,
  • Ben Farmer,
  • Carla Hunter,
  • and Dave Trapper

as they sell to Glue Works, Inc.

Each week, these individual salespeople present the status of their territories to their managers. We will focus on their discussions of selling to Glue Works.

If you have joined this case study in mid-campaign, we encourage you to go back to the opening video where the description of the challenge is laid out. We then encourage you to continue from the beginning.

We hope that you enjoy this case study and you learn some valuable skills. To interpret what each salesperson is doing correctly or incorrectly, we suggest that you read the book Eliminate Your Competition which is available wherever books are sold as paperbacks or ebooks.

Case Study – Glue Works, Inc – 36 weeks before the order

Transcript of the video

Amy Gatherer meets with her manager every Monday morning, and the subject of Glue Works comes up weekly. She details the consulting orders that she is billing, some personnel problems with the various onsite consultants, and a customer event that she recently hosted with some Glue Works executives. The status of Glue Works as a customer continues to be very profitable and the outlook is quite positive. 

The subject of selling the new artificial intelligence (AI) tool to Glue Works doesn’t come up. Her manager is pleased with Glue Works but is a bit distressed that Amy just had a 90% drop in billings at a different customer, ABC Plane Parts. ABC Plane Parts selected Premium Software. Amy explained her plan to her manager. “I think I can increase my billings at Glue Works by taking some new business away from DayDream Consulting to offset the decrease in revenue from ABC Plane Parts.”

Ben Farmer also talks to his manager every Monday, but his conversation occurs in the afternoon, as he has appointments on Monday morning. When the subject turns to Glue Works, Ben tells his manager, “Steve and Alice are loving what we are doing. They are pretty adamant that they don’t want to switch to Everything Consulting, even though there is some pressure from executive management. I think this initial consulting order will be successful, and we will grow that relationship, but we may have to drop our price to keep Everything Consulting out.” 

When asked about selling the artificial intelligence-based product, Ben replies, “Glue Works is a solid, old-fashioned company that values human relationships. I don’t think they are going to go for the new stuff.” 

Finally, Ben’s manager asks if he had heard the rumor about ABC Plane Parts buying artificial intelligence-based software. Ben replies, “That doesn’t surprise me. I am not close to anyone there. I know one guy in the human resources department, but we are not very close. I have tried to invite him to golf and various sports events around town, and he is never really interested. They seem to be much more cutting edge and hard charging. I will look into the rumor.” Ben will look into the rumor, but he will never tell his manager what happened unless asked again. Ben subscribes to the theory that salespeople should only tell management about bad news when it is absolutely necessary.

Carla Hunter’s meeting with her manager was filled with frustration. Carla had spent a lot of time over the last ten to twelve weeks at ABC Plane Parts but had come up short on a decision they recently made. She and her manager complained that the customer obviously made the wrong decision, even when given a massive last-minute discount. By the end of the conversation, they concluded that Focused Software was never given a fair shot at the business and it was wired for Premium Software from the beginning.

Carla and her manager never discussed Glue Works, as she has never made a call there and isn’t aware of any reason to discuss the account. She did mention several RFPs that she was responding to with the help of her inside sales team and her technical team.

Dave Trapper’s meeting with his manager is more of a celebration than an account review. Dave, his extended team, and the management team just closed a very large sale at ABC Plane Parts. Much of the meeting was spent talking about that successful campaign, with appropriate congratulations to all of the team members who contributed to the success. 

The meeting ended with Dave’s manager starting to think ahead. “Great job on the deal! I hate to go straight to business but you are on a bit of a streak right now, and we need to keep building on that momentum. Let’s skip the discussion on Glue Works, Suncar Auto, Spinning Energy, Four Star Homes, and Hot Food Restaurants for this week. We can focus on those next week. My treat for lunch today at Tony’s Steakhouse.”

Explanation Of The Glue Works, Inc. Case Study

Explanation Of The Glue Works, Inc. Case Study

This is a week-by-week case study of four salespeople

  • Amy Gatherer,
  • Ben Farmer,
  • Carla Hunter,
  • and Dave Trapper

as they sell to Glue Works, Inc.

Each week, these individual salespeople present the status of their territories to their managers. We will focus on their discussions of selling to Glue Works.

If you have joined this case study in mid-campaign, we encourage you to go back to the opening video where the description of the challenge is laid out. We then encourage you to continue from the beginning.

We hope that you enjoy this case study and you learn some valuable skills. To interpret what each salesperson is doing correctly or incorrectly, we suggest that you read the book Eliminate Your Competition which is available wherever books are sold as paperbacks or ebooks.

Video Script

This case study will help you to understand the Trapper selling methodology. This fictionalized case study is used throughout the book Eliminate Your Competition to explain the more difficult concepts.

The company in this case study is Glue Works. 

Glue Works doesn’t know how to achieve one of its major goals and is looking for outside assistance.

In this case study, we follow four different salespeople who sell management consulting software that can help companies focus and align their products. This type of software replaces management consultants. In this case study, there are no major technical limitations in any of the four software products. Any of the four products will work, and therefore it is primarily sales skill that differentiates the products and influences the sale. While each product will work, there are individual features of each of these offerings that can be used to differentiate the products.

The four salespeople in this story are:

  • Amy Gatherer,
  • Ben Farmer
  • Carla Hunter,
  • Dave Trapper

Ivytown is probably very similar to your city. It has its problems with keeping roads paved, keeping its parks clean, and providing adequate opportunities for its youth. Ivytown has had its share of very good mayors in the past, and it has also had a few mayors that probably should never have been elected. There are a few medium-sized universities in town that occasionally have a good year with one of their sports teams, and this incites quite a bit of pride in the community. Like your home city, the top weatherman can never seem to predict the weather but is still popular.

One of the largest companies in Ivytown is Glue Works ink. Glue Works is one of the largest manufacturers of adhesives in the world. The company started about 100 years ago and now has a very diverse line of glues and adhesives. Its products are sold to consumers and industrial companies. Their consumer products are a hit with young students, and the marketing of the consumer products is imaginative. The industrial customers range from book publishers to automotive companies. Their tagline on their website is “We Keep Everything Together.”

Amy Gatherer works for Everything Consulting. Glue Works is the largest of the five customers that she manages for Everything Consulting. Glue Works is about 40% of her revenue. 

Everything Consulting is a global consulting company with many different practices. Most of their revenue comes from the teams of consultants that advise companies on a wide variety of disciplines. A few years ago, Everything Consulting acquired a Scandinavian company that developed artificial intelligence software to help companies align the skills of individual people and job functions. This product is quite good, but it is competitive with the consulting operations of Everything Consulting. The software product, therefore, is typically only discussed with new prospects and not existing customers.

Ben Farmer works for DayDream Consulting. Ben has sold a few small consulting projects to Glue Works. Ben always goes to Glue Works on Mondays; he has a cup of coffee with Steve and Alice in manufacturing. Steve is an old college friend, and they enjoy talking about the status of their alma mater’s sports teams. Steve was instrumental in helping Ben get the previous consulting engagements. Alice attends the same church as Ben.

DayDream Consulting is a regional consulting company with extremely talented consultants. They also re-sell, in an exclusive territory, a software product that uses artificial intelligence techniques to help companies align the skills of individual people and job functions. This product is quite good, and the publisher of the software is willing to help any of their resellers successfully sell the product. DayDream Consulting doesn’t get many leads for the software, but it does receive a steady stream of RFPs (Requests For Proposal) to fill out. DayDream is very diligent about filling out these RFPs, but Ben regularly complains that they need better resources to complete those RFPs.

Carla Hunter works for Focused Software, where she won the top salesperson award for two of the last four years. Focused Software creates a software product that uses artificial intelligence techniques to help companies align the skills of individual people and job functions. Carla loves working for Focused Software because they give her a lot of latitude in going after opportunities, give her well-written collateral, and are extremely flexible on pricing and terms. Focused Software has never sold anything to Glue Works.

Dave Trapper works for Premium Software. Premium Software creates a software product that uses artificial intelligence techniques to help companies align the skills of individual people and job functions. Dave doesn’t think Premium Software has great marketing and always wishes for more leads, but knows that he needs to generate his deals. Dave is one of the top salespeople in the company and understands that the company’s management is at his disposal to help him win business. Premium Software has never sold anything to Glue Works.

We will watch these four salespeople as they discuss their territories with their management over the majority of a year.


You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Read Every Day To Become An Expert In Sales

Read Every Day To Become An Expert In Sales

In my recent interview with Brian Burns for his podcastThe Brutal Truth, I challenged salespeople to read more. We didn’t explore the content that salespeople should read, though, and this post will dig into that question.

Self-development expert Brian Tracy tells us, “If you read only one book per month, that will put you into the top 1 percent of income earners in our society.” Now, imagine if you read one book a week what will happen.

Earl Nightingale said many years ago:

One hour per day of study in your chosen field is all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.

If you read one hour a day in your chosen field, that translates into one book a week. One book per week translates into roughly 50 books a year. Do that for five years, and you have read 250 books in your field. You will quickly become an expert in your area.

What should you read?

I do not recommend that you focus on one thing and become an expert at it if you are in sales. I think that an expert in sales is an expert at understanding and influencing the motivations of people. To do that, you need to have a very rounded understanding of your world, the people you interact with, and your prospects’ needs and goals.

I suggest you break up your reading to cover these three topics.

  1. Selling – you are a salesperson, so you should read about improving your skills.
  2. The World – you should be knowledgeable about the world around you to relate to your prospects and customers.
  3. Your Industry – you should know more about your industry and the technology driving your industry than anyone you meet.

Read about selling

Your world is different from mine. I don’t know what you sell, but if you are reading this blog, you must be in sales or desire to be in sales. So let’s start there: spend every day reading five blog posts. It is a good start being here at this post, but I do not put out five articles a day.

There are two great ways to find five sales articles per day. You can subscribe to Feedly (or a similar RSS aggregator) and subscribe to the RSS feeds to some of the best sales blogs. If you don’t like RSS feeds, create a list on Twitter that gets feeds from the best sales blogs.

In my opinion, the best sales blogs today are:

Read about the world.

It is crucial that you understand what is going on in the world. It is especially important to understand what is happening in the business world since you are in business.

There are only two choices for reading what is happening in the business world. Pick one of the two newspapers and read five articles in it every day. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (and have for decades). It is the larger of the two in the US and has a wide readership among US business leaders.

Read about your industry.

It isn’t easy to give you great suggestions for your industry. The easiest way to provide you with assistance is to explain how I pay attention to the sectors I watch.

The method below uses Flipboard, but it would also work with other content aggregators such as Google News and Apple News.

Every day, I spend time on Flipboard and read at least five articles (and usually 15-20 articles) on the interesting industries and technologies. I will save the best of these articles in my bookmarks file and occasionally forward them to prospects and customers.

I do this by going to the Flipboard Topic listing and adding necessary technologies to this list. Once you have an account, you can go to https://flipboard.com/following/topics. However, adding topics is easier using their app, which you can download to your Android phone or your iPhone (or their tablets). Once you have your app setup, follow these steps:

  • Open the app and tap the Following tab.
  • Swipe across to Topics and choose Find More Topics to Follow, and you’ll see the topic picker. Select topics that interest you, or use the search feature for diving even deeper.
  • Select Done when you’re finished.

Return to the topic picker from time to time to keep personalizing your Flipboard with new and exciting content.

Don’t stop learning.

I will be giving more tips on getting more content to make you a better salesperson. Subscribe to my newsletter so that you never miss my content.

Brian Tracy and Earl Nightingale talked about reading books, and I spent most of this article talking about reading articles. Reading books is essential as well, and I must recommend my book, Eliminate Your Competition.

You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Don’t Negotiate With Yourself! It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

Don’t Negotiate With Yourself! It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

Congratulations! You are approaching the end of your sales campaign with a new prospect. Now you need to put the final deal together.

In many companies, the salesperson will have to go through extreme hurdles to allow any special concessions to the prospect. However, in some companies (especially in smaller companies), you only have to work with your immediate manager and maybe someone in legal. In either case, the salesperson will be advocating for concessions that make it easier to win the customer and have them sign the order.

Most companies that you sell to understand that the first offer is not the final offer. There is no reason to make an offer that is your “walk away – take it or leave it” offer on the first written proposal to the customer. As a salesperson trying to bring in the commission to increase your W2, it is natural to be a bit apprehensive if you have to make multiple offers.

First, be comfortable with this process. It is a process that people have done every day for as long as two people have been exchanging goods or services. As the book/movie by Mario Puzo, The Godfather, frequently said, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

Second, if you have followed my advice in my book Eliminate Your Competition, you have virtually eliminated your prospects other choices. If you are dealing with someone in the purchasing department, they may not acknowledge that reality to you, but your Coach and your Champion have already told you that you have won the deal.

If you don’t know how to enter into the negotiations after beating all of your competition and eliminating them from consideration, I suggest that you read my book. You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Your Coach probably told you, “You’ve won, so don’t blow it with Purchasing.” This advice is nagging at you. If you work for a big company with lots of approvals, you have probably nicknamed that black hole of deal approval “The Order Prevention Department.” You don’t want to lose the deal at this point.

If you work for a small or a large company, always remember that your company wants the order, but they need to make sure that the order doesn’t violate internal processes (some you may not fully understand). There is no one on the Executive Committee trying to get LESS money into the company by walking away from deals.

It is tempting to pitch to your management a series of concessions so that the prospect buys at first sight.

Don’t Do It!

You cannot negotiate with yourself. You will always lose. You cannot say that if you give this discount or concede this term or condition, you will get credit for it in the customer’s eyes. The customer will never give you credit for something that they do not know about.

Think of it this way. Quite a while ago, there was a popular movie titled Pay It Forward. The film’s premise is that you pay for a favor by doing a favor for someone else. After that movie, some people would pay for the drive-thru order of someone in line behind them. The goal was that someone who really could not afford that meal but was quite hungry and had to eat would get a free meal.

What if you received such a gift, but the teller did not inform you who paid your bill. The teller didn’t say the car in front of you paid your fee, but instead, said there was no charge? Would you return that favor by paying for the car behind you? Of course not. You would assume that the restaurant manager granted you that favor and not by another good-willed person in your community. The person that did you that favor did not receive the credit; therefore, the ‘pay it forward’ chain breaks.

Even the book and movie by Mario Puzo, The Godfather, was famous for offering to do a favor in advance with the understanding that at some time in the future, a return favor will be requested.

By giving a concession to a buyer that they are not aware of, you are not getting credit for that concession. This favor works against you even more as corporate buyers frequently have to report to their superiors how much money they saved during the purchase process. By giving a concession without the buyer’s knowledge, you are not giving him that credit, and he will work hard to get further discounts (and these will be harder to grant on top of the original discounted offer).

Don’t ever give a customer a discount that the customer didn’t request or is not aware of receiving. Even “standard discounts” shown in the initial offer are assumed to be available to every customer and are accommodations of a list price that is not in keeping with the street price. The discount or concession is much more appreciated if the buyer is aware of a great deal and assumes you worked hard to get the approval.

Be confident in the process. Don’t negotiate with yourself as you will always lose – you will give without getting anything valuable in return.

Header photo The Godfather – 1 by komersreal

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