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The Big Ask: How to get That Promotion

Quick! What are you worth to your company? If you hesitated before answering, you are not alone. Most people are uncertain about their actual value in the corporate structure of a company. In fact, after initially accepting a job, people tend to use their starting salary as a guide. While this might be helpful, if you accepted the job at a lower-than-market-rate salary, you will be starting promotion/salary negotiations at a disadvantage.

Before you ask for a promotion, you should consider the following:


Find out the salary range for the promotion you want. Obviously, you are not going to get this information from your company. Consult online salary surveys, and speak with other people in similar positions (if they are willing to share their information). Once you have at least a ballpark figure, you have a starting place.


• Research the position for which you want to be considered. Check your company’s website for job descriptions, research competitors’ job descriptions and speak with people who have done the job.


Be sure you are performing your current job at your optimal level. That means you need to be able to show you go above and beyond at your job. Be willing to take on additional projects and look for leadership opportunities.


Some companies only consider promotions during annual performance reviews. These are often dependent upon the organization’s fiscal year (which may or may not be in sync with the regular calendar).
If you are hoping to ask for a promotion before your yearly performance review, be prepared to face some pushback. This does not mean that you should give up; rather, it just means you have to be a bit more creative in your approach.

Action Plan


Experts suggest having a roadmap before you approach your boss to request a promotion. Most agree that the following are important steps:


Keep an ongoing record of your accomplishments. Be sure your manager is aware of your hard work and what you contribute to the team. This does not mean you should brag or oversell yourself; that could backfire.


Increase your knowledge base. Continue to add to your wheelhouse of skills by learning all you can. Enroll in some evening courses, ask about continuing education opportunities provided by your company — these efforts will increase your value to your employer.


Take your annual performance reviews seriously. Be sure to ask questions of your manager, including ways you can improve and grow within the company.


Look for opportunities to communicate with your managers about your career goals and aspirations. If they do not know your plans, they cannot help you achieve them.


Self-Assessment


Some companies offer employees the opportunity to do a “self-review” as part of the evaluation process. This, no doubt, can be an uncomfortable task: Most people are not accustomed to citing their own accomplishments, or facing their own shortcomings. This is an important task because it forces the employee to be honest about his/her career.


Career counselors and hiring managers recommend that employees who are looking to grow find a mentor. This can be as simple as meeting with someone in your company over lunch to discuss a path forward. This person should be someone who can help you grow your career. Or, a mentor might be someone out of your company whose career has followed a similar path to you the one you are seeking.

Passed Over


OK, so what if you’ve done everything suggested here and you still do not get that promotion? What’s next? There are myriad reasons that you did not get the promotion. Perhaps there was someone more seniority. Maybe the job in which you are interested is not available. Or maybe your manager simply does not feel you are qualified for the position. If that is the case, ask for a follow-up review prior to your next yearly evaluation. Ask your manager what you can do to improve your chances of getting that promotion.

Be The Closer

Even the best salespeople run in to prospective clients who seem impossible to please. You know you have the best product or service, and you know you can help this client improve his/her bottom line, but how to convince them to give you the sale?

Sometimes, a salesperson approaches a prospect on a bad day. It happens to everyone. Maybe the potential client is dealing with a crisis at the company and simply is not focused on your presentation. These circumstances are frustrating, but they can be overcome with some clear-cut strategies.

 

Distracted Client

It’s important to keep the client’s focus on your sales pitch. Try to discern what is distracting the client, and work to bring him/her back to the table. You can also help refocus the energy in the room with an interactive presentation. By involving the client with active rather than passive content, you can help get your message across.

 

Find the Decision Maker

Oftentimes, a company’s decision maker will send an assistant or other representative to a sales meeting to collect preliminary information. Though you are never guaranteed a face-to-face with the actual decision maker, be sure to contact him/her directly prior to the meeting and introduce yourself. This way, when the associate returns with your sales information, the decision maker will already know your name.

 

Project a Genuine Concern

The more you can empathize with your client, the easier it will be to find common ground and close a sale. Your pre-meeting research should give you plenty of information about the client’s business, its challenges, its successes and what your products or services can do to improve productivity. Putting yourself in the client’s shoes can help you feel confident in your ability to address their needs.

 

Learn About the Competition

This refers to both your competition and that of your potential client. Knowing about the other companies in your industry will help you differentiate your products and convey to the client why you offer a superior solution. You also need to be familiar with the client’s competition. You need to tell the client why your products will give them the edge.

 

Set a Deadline

Part of the sales process needs to involve a deadline. Do not give the client too much time to make a decision. This is especially true for challenging clients. There is a fine line between being pushy and creating a sense of urgency. Make it clear to the client that you plan to follow up with them in a few days. Also be sure to let them know your offer has a shelf life. If the client knows you will not wait around forever, you will have a better chance of closing the sale.

 

Have the Answers

In any sales presentation, there is bound to be pushback. Address your client’s objections head-on. Be prepared to defend the cost of your products, and explain why your company provides value-added service. Work with your sales team to come up with a list of all possible concerns your client might bring up. This will help you avoid being caught off guard and pausing to come up with an appropriate answer. If you can anticipate potential objections before your meeting, you will be better prepared to make your case.

Focus on the results you can provide for your client. For example, be prepared to show the client how you can help cut their overhead costs, increase productivity, and improve their company’s bottom line.

When it comes to dealing with challenging clients, preparation is key. All of the sales leads in the world do not matter if you aren’t creating actual sales. Be persistent: Follow up your meeting with a phone call (or phone calls), because emails are much easier to ignore. Remind the client why you can provide the best solution for their needs. Being able to anticipate a client’s concerns and questions will make you a more successful closer.

How to Help your B2B Sales Team Conquer the Field

Sales in the B2B space are complicated. As the business landscape becomes more and more crowded, sales teams need an edge to stay at the top and create a path to successful sales.

In a traditional corporate structure, sales and marketing do not always work together. That’s not to say they function as adversarial departments; however, the need to collaborate has never been more important. In some cases, the marketing department can become a sales team’s best resource.

Why? We live in an active, visual world. The tried-and-true sales meetings of a few years ago are not always the most effective way to woo a potential client. People need to be engaged. They do not want to be told, they want to be shown. Clients want to be an active participant in a sales presentation. They want to make sure you earn their business. Your marketing department can help you create augmented- and virtual-reality presentations that can take your clients into to the heart of your presentation. PowerPoint does not always suffice.

Make your sales presentation content active, rather than passive. You can let the customer experience your products and services in a virtual environment, which can encourage them to work with your company.

Here are some ways to create active content to engage your potential clients:

  • Work with your marketing department to create easy-to-use apps.
  • Create or obtain specialized software that works with your product or service.
  • Make your displays interactive and engaging. Active content is two times as effective as passive content.

 

Lines of Communication

Open communication sounds like a given, but salespeople often struggle with the best way to reach potential clients. Cold-calling emails often end up in the recipient’s junk file, which means you’ve lost a lead. Find out who the decision makers are and address them directly. Once you secure a meeting, then you can put your new strategies into place.

Do your homework before your first meeting. Sure, everyone knows to research the prospective client. But it’s equally important to research the client’s competition. This is a crucial step because it will allow you to show the prospect how your product or service can help take the client’s business to the next level — above and beyond that of their competition. You also need to include some deep-dive research into your own competitors. You know that your products and services are the best, but you need to convince your prospects of your company’s value. This is how you differentiate yourself from your competition. This will help prepare you for any off-the-cuff questions you may receive.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Know your audience. Are you pitching to the CEO of the company or to one of his/her assistants? Gear your presentation to the appropriate person.
  • Identify with your client. Try to empathize with his/her needs and approach your presentation from a place of understanding.

When it’s time to close the sale, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to set a time limit for a decision. Do not leave the meeting without a firm deadline to close the sale. Open-ended timelines give the client too much time to look for other options — and to forget why you can provide the best solutions for the client. Be sure to follow up within a reasonable time prior to your deadline. You want to keep your company fresh in the minds of decision-makers.

It sounds cliché to say you need to think outside the box, but innovation really is the key sales in the 21st century. The more your sales team can differentiate itself from the competition, the more sales they will make. Combining efforts with the in-house marketing department is key to creating fresh, interesting, compelling sales presentations.

Negotiation tactics, strategies, and skills to win you a better deal.

Negotiation is a balance between the science of preparation and strategy development and the art of connecting with the other side’s needs and wants. The trick is to know just how much you have to ‘give’ in order to get all of your needs met (and with solid negotiation habits… some or most of your ‘wants’ as well). 

 

Better habits will lead to better results in all of your negotiations whether it is a business deal, a personal purchase or even ‘Where are we going for dinner?’ decisions made under the stress of being hungry and in a hurry with family and friends!

 

SNI has a proven method for maximizing your objectives in a negotiation while maintaining a careful eye toward improving relationships. We firmly believe in using a system for negotiation not only because it improves performance, but also because it makes it repeatable and sustainable across an organization. 

 

Our relationship based approach to negotiation is based around the core principle – the best way to get what you want in a negotiation is to help them get at least some of what they want.

 

Below are a host of negotiation tactics, strategies, and skills based on our negotiation training that will surely positively impact your negotiations. 

 

Negotiation Strategies for Getting What You Want and Need

 

Don’t ever overestimate your weakness, nor underestimate the other side’s. 

Many negotiators give in too easily when they believe they are weaker than the other side. One aspect of preparation is to identify the strengths and weaknesses for both sides. 

You need reliable transportation, and you want a car that is $2000 over your budget. It is not unreasonably priced, but it is $2000 over your budget. 

  • Experts don’t haggle here. They weigh the other side’s needs (to move cars) and wants (to make commission) and with that leverage, they walk in and make a reasonable offer below their target price (leaving room to move).  
  • When faced with options to maximize the price (or switch to a less desirable car), the experts stick to their initial offer for a specific car. 
  • The experts point out how their offer meets the salesperson’s need to sell a car today. 
  • When the price starts to drop, the expert sticks to their offer and asks if the desired price is possible. 
  • If/when an expert does need to make a concession, they remember the three keys to making concessions- move slowly ($100 up), show pain (“my wife won’t be happy”), and ask for something in return (“but I’ll need free oil changes for the first year”). 

And so on until they reach their target price. Sticking to your first reasonable offer and using the laws of concession forces the other side to start conceding in an attempt to get you to ‘trade’ with them. Resist the temptation to change your offer until you get your primary goal(s) met. 

 

Scripting Your Exchanges

It is always a good idea to write out your needs and wants, along with their relative values, to plan for the exchange of value in a negotiation. 

You are in the final stages of a salary negotiation with a great candidate for your team, and the candidate asks you for $5000 more than your budget for the position. 

Experts:

  • Already know what they are going to say when this situation arises. They plan to:
    • Ask the candidate to reconsider the offer. 
    • If that is rejected, the next ‘offer’ should be worth far less than $5000 but should still be a move in the right direction. Ideally it’s a combination of moving in salary along with other variables. 
    • Trades such as an extra week of vacation, a 1% bump in 401(k) contributions or stock, ability to telework, flexibility in schedule and subsidized parking cost you less than the hard cost of that $5000 that is not in your hiring budget. These solutions will have less impact on your cash flow.  

Writing out your strategy is the science and knowing when/how to offer these exchanges is an art. Fortunately, it is a strategy that you can learn and practice to get better. Here is another technique to help you practice this strategy and close difficult deals. 

 

Offering 3 Options

An excellent closing strategy is to offer three options. Buyers like to feel in control. By presenting three choices: a premium package, an enhanced package and a basic package, you can usually influence the other side to choose your preferred option by simply offering it as the last choice. Three options balances people having a feeling of choice with not being overwhelmed by too many choices (paralysis by analysis). 

You are selling a subscription service and the other side is asking for your most expensive package at a 20% discount. 

Let’s assume that you have a basic service at $1200, enhanced service at $1500 and premium service at $2000. Your customer is trying to get you to offer premium service at $1600. You can’t mix and match components of your services a la carte, so:

  • Offer the premium service hard at full price. Set the bar high. 
  • Next compare it to the basic service. They don’t want that. 
  • Ask questions and listen to their needs/objections. 
  • Make an offer to meet most of their needs and wants with the enhanced service at the price of $1500 saving the customer more than the 20% discount they requested while meeting most of their needs and wants. 

Most negotiations will end with the other side choosing their price point (the enhanced service) or your value (enhanced at $1500 or the premium service at $2000). A nice win-win. 

 

Negotiation Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People

Some negotiators bargain in a difficult way because they are in a bad spot, while others use power, tricks and tactics because they often work! In either scenario, you can counter the positional or argumentative negotiator by changing your mindset about these difficult deals, and utilizing some of their own tactics to neutralize them. 

Here are some quick tips for dealing with tactical negotiators.

 

Neutralize your own emotions. 

Take a deep breath. This isn’t about you. You have prepared well and you are negotiating in good faith. 

Your customer says “I thought the customer is your first priority!? You have to help me out with a discount on this job so I can win US BOTH more business.”

Count to ten and stay in your ‘safe harbor’ of asking questions in the face of objections and power plays. 

Ask questions:

  • Tell me about your agreement with your client? 
  • Do you have a contract ready for this future work? 
  • Can I help you with the response to this RFP?

Use hypotheticals:

  • Hypothetically, could we approach this customer together? With our combined buying power, we might be able to offer more value if we can win a bigger order.
  • If we agree on X can we talk about Y?

 

If your gut tells you it’s a tactic, name it and neutralize it. 

Sometimes you think the deal is done, and then someone new enters the deal for ‘final approval’. You suspect something (we call it “Higher Authority” or the “Nibble” if they ask for something last minute), but you’re not sure. Your gut says this is a tactic. 

You’re probably right. 

Here’s one way to handle it…

Your longtime customer Jenny says you have to meet her new budget manager to get your agreement approved. 

“This is Bruce. We want to give you the business, but you have to lower the price to get his buy-in.”

The expert greets Bruce and asks him what he needs to make a decision. Bruce replies “Lower your price.” 

The expert responds with a prepared response: 

  • “I believe you’re negotiating in good faith, but having you come in now with only one need – ‘Lower price’…this makes me feel like you’re using a ‘good cop-bad cop’ tactic. 
  • “Jenny and I have had many discussions. Can we catch you up on some points before we talk about price?” 

Whether they confess or deny it, you have blocked the good cop/bad cop strategy because:

  • You named it. They have to adopt another approach. 
  • Be polite, but know that you are on moral high ground. 
  • Protest (gently) and take the opportunity to restate your offer (or an alternative).

You cannot be wrong when you tell someone how their behavior makes you feel. When you feel it, name it and neutralize it. Try to get back to having a two-way dialogue. 

 

Silence is a great tactic when combined with active listening.

Your negotiation has reached a moment when there seems to be an impasse. Try staying quiet. A pleasant, unworried and perfectly calm expression while your last offer is considered can be powerful. 

A customer says the following at the last minute: “Thank you for your revised proposal, we like everything about it but need it for 5% less.” 

Expert response: Let there be silence. It may feel uncomfortable but it’s ok to take a few seconds to think and put pressure on them. Then, eventually, if you need to break the silence, ask a question such as “What if that is the best I can do?”

As long as you stick to your offer and stay quiet, you cannot concede. 

  • Encourage the other side to state their objection(s) precisely and simply listen.
  • Let them talk. Take notes, and ask them to clarify. 
  • Make the other side work hard to justify their position (objection) by simply staying silent or using a probing encourager (such as “Tell me more”). 

Use silence and thoughtful probing to break the impasse. The other side may start sweetening the deal to move toward a resolution. It is now your decision whether to move from your last offer if you decide it is worthwhile. 

 

Use time to your advantage. 

Have you ever noticed how many deadlocks (strikes, Congress, bedtime) come down to a flurry of negotiating right before the deadline? There’s a reason why people believe it’s smart to buy cars at the end of the month (or at year-end). They believe that these deals might go away. Now is the time to buy. 

We often react to perceived scarcity and allow the pressure of a deadline to drive bad decisions.   

A new client sends an email stating: “If you cannot meet our conditions by midnight, then we have no choice but to select your competitor.”

Slow down. Nothing about your deal has changed, or needs to change, simply because the hands of the clock change or the calendar flips. The product or service costs nearly the same tomorrow as it does today. Deadlines are usually a power play, pure and simple. 

To fight it:

  • Ask the other side “What’s changing? Why can’t we continue to negotiate?”
  • Use a hypothetical: “If, hypothetically, we decide to continue negotiating, we might be able to enhance our offer.”

On the other hand, most people seem to fall for it. Use it whenever you can. ”This offer is good until Tuesday” works as well as any other tactic. 

 

Negotiation Skills for Winning More Deals, Faster and Getting Better Results

We teach a systematic approach to negotiating based on 4 primary skills – Preparation, Probing, Listening and Proposing. By using these skills in a systematic way, you can negotiate more confidently and minimize your emotional reactions to the other side’s positions, tactics and strategies. 

 

Preparation is the only aspect of a negotiation under your complete control. 

Our Preparation Checklist helps negotiators capture, organize and prioritize the information you gather prior to a negotiation. Your level of effort in preparation directly correlates to your results when the negotiation concludes.

Even with little or no time to formally prepare, the Checklist will help you focus your questions on issues that are relevant to finding a mutually acceptable solution. 

If you want to get paid, use P.A.I.D. to remember these 4 crucial components of every negotiation. 

  • Precedents – Past deals that could affect this deal for both sides
  • Alternatives – What options are available from a highest goal down to a walkaway?
  • Interests – Beyond positions, what does each side really need and want?
  • Deadlines – When does a deal have to be done to satisfy each side? 

Additionally, you should prepare strengths and weaknesses for both sides, a list of your needs and wants, a situation summary, information on the other side’s style, and a script for exchanging value in the negotiation. The more you prepare, the more successful you will be. 

 

Probing is a safe harbor when under pressure. 

Ask questions instead of taking positions or making offers too early in a negotiation. The other side might use tactics to make you concede. Rather than reacting to the tactics, probe to find precedents, alternatives, interests, deadlines as well as their goals and priorities. Your objective is to find leverage for your side. 

Ask these questions to do your preparation on the fly. 

  • Precedents – “How did you come to that price? What are you basing that on?”
  • Alternatives – “What options are you considering?”
  • Interests – “What is important to you? What else? What else?”
  • Prioritizing Interests – “Which is most important? Why is that important to you?”
  • Deadlines – “Is there a deadline? When? Why is that deadline important?”

Notice that we are trying to flush out all of the important factors for the other side before we address each. 

Here is a sample exchange: 

What is important to you?  Price

What else is important to you? On time delivery

What else?  A strong warranty

What else? Those are the top 3

Great. Of those top 3, what is most important and why?

Now you have a list of the decision-making factors and can address each carefully and strategically, with a sense of how they rank in importance to the other side.

 

Active listening is harder than it looks. 

In a negotiation between two or more parties, everyone involved wants to be heard but the parties often spend too much time talking instead of listening. The Greek philosopher Epictetus stated, “Nature gave man two ears but only one mouth so he might listen twice as often as he speaks.” 

You can increase your active listening skills by connecting with the speaker. 

  • Eliminate distractions. Put the phone away. Find a quiet place to negotiate. 
  • Make a point of being ‘present in the moment’ and consciously focus all of your attention on the speaker. 
  • Encourage the other side to continue speaking. “Tell me more about that.”
  • Take notes. When a great idea comes to you and you don’t want to forget, do not blurt it out, write it down so that you can continue to listen without the distraction of trying to remember.

You should also consider your response before replying. 

  • Listen to hear instead of waiting for your turn to speak. When we listen to reply, we tend to miss critical information.
  • Pause for a moment to check your preparation checklist before responding to an offer or position. Don’t ‘wing it’. Use your preparation to full advantage. 
  • If you are asked a tough question which puts pressure on you, answer their question with a question of your own. “I’m interested in why you asked that question? Help me understand.”

Last, you should confirm what was said and agreed to. 

  • Restate, paraphrase and summarize the agreements at the end of a negotiating session. Focus on creating mutual understanding and a clear path to a full agreement. 
  • Follow up in writing to solidify agreements. Sending a short memo of understanding after a session in a negotiation creates a stronger commitment to those agreements. 
  • Deliver on your commitments. Nothing erodes trust and confidence faster than a missed commitment during a negotiation. 

 

Proposing rules to maximize your wins. 

When it comes to proposing, there are four critical skills to use when coming to a final agreement. It is where the results of your hard work and strategy come to fruition. 

  • Be strategic about the first offer. If you both know the market very well, go first in order to ‘anchor’ the negotiation at the best reasonable first offer you can make. If you get the sense that the other side does not know the market very well, let them go first. You ever know what they will say or share. At best you have an offer better than you expected, at worst you know where they stand and can educate them with precedents on the market. 
  • Aim reasonably high (or low). When you do make an offer, whether it is the first or not, make the best (for you) reasonable offer you can based on precedents and other information you have prepared. Reasonable is key here – if your offer is too high (or low), the other side may elect to move on to other options. 
  • Avoid using (or responding to) ranges. A recruiter asks you for a ‘ballpark figure’ for your salary requirements. Experts never reply with “I’m looking for something between $60 – 70,000.” The only number the recruiter heard was $60,000 and you will probably end up slightly south of that low end of your range. Why do we use ranges? Because we are not confident in our ask. Get rid of that crutch. Ask for $70,000 and let them respond. 
  • Don’t accept the other side’s first offer too quickly. If you immediately accept their first offer, they will feel as if they left money on the table. Even if it is a really fair deal for you, pause at least, and counteroffer if it makes sense. Often the other side will feel better about the deal because they will believe they worked for it. 
  • Don’t settle for ‘splitting the difference.’ It is a lazy way to end a negotiation, and the only benefit is a perceived sense of fairness and getting the deal done quickly. Splitting the difference rarely satisfies each side completely and can become a ritual of haggling to meet in the middle on future deals. Use a ‘nibble’ tactic to get something ‘extra’ so you get the bigger ‘win’. 

By combining negotiation strategies with tactics and skill, you can win more deals while also developing long-term relationships. The approach above has helped organizations maximize their results since 1995 and proven that negotiation is a skill anyone can learn to improve outcomes. 

If you are interested in learning more take a look at our various programs (sales training, negotiation training, influence training), give us a call (410-662-4764), or fill out the form below to schedule a call.  

 

Saying Thank You

Some people believe writing thank you notes is an archaic practice — a lost art. The truth is, certain social niceties never go out of style. In fact, the simple courtesy and acknowledgement of a thank you note can mean the difference between closing that sale and becoming another blip on a customer’s screen.

 

Getting the Job

Interviews can be taxing: The potential employee feels pressure to perform, while hiring managers often meet with multiple candidates in a day. Standing out to an employer is one of the most important things a potential hire can do during the hiring process. It’s crucial to be prepared for the physical interview, but it’s just as important to make sure the follow up has positive impact.

Manners matter. Sending a thank you note via email soon after an interview is the best way to let the potential employer know you are serious and really want the job. Back in the pre-digital era, people were expected to send handwritten thank you notes, sent through the mail. There is definitely something to be said for crafting a well-written, neatly printed note; however, by the time that lovely note arrives, other candidates’ emails have already been written, received, read and, perhaps, acted upon.

 

Closing the Sale

Job seekers are not the only ones who should realize the importance of thank you notes. Selling requires account managers and executives to interact with potential clients and differentiate their products and services from those of their competitors. Wining, dining and golfing with potential clients may or may not be possibilities, but sending a follow-up thank you note after a meeting is an easy to way to solidify your interest in doing business.

 

Crafting the Perfect Thank You Note for a Job Interview

Email thank you notes do not require fancy stationary or cards, so focus on content. Here are the key things that should be included in a thank you note to a potential employer:

  • Be sure the name of person with whom you met is spelling correctly. Double-check his/her title. If you met with more than one person, be sure to send separate notes to each. Misspelling or misidentifying someone in a note is a sure way to have your resume placed in the round file.
  • Review at least one important topic discussed during the interview. For example, reiterate your interest in the company’s corporate stewardship initiatives and how your background will complement the company’s mission.
  • Proofread your message before you hit the send button. Poor grammar, spelling and punctuation are off-putting. The best thing you can do: Draft your email, then put it aside for at least an hour. Come back and look at it with “fresh” eyes.

 

Sending a Thank You Note to Potential Clients

You meet with numerous clients. Be sure you are addressing the correct person in your email. There are many anecdotes floating around about salespeople addressing an email to the name of a competitor. That’s a surefire way to lose a sale.

  • Review notes from the meeting and include a few points that were discussed.
  • Reiterate why your product or service is the best solution for the client.
  • Thank the client for his/her time. This sounds obvious, but simply acknowledging your appreciation for a meeting can go a long way.

 

Bottom line:

The digital age has caused most people to seek instant gratification. The truth is, hiring the perfect employee, or selecting a great vendor, takes time. Your contact may have to discuss his/her choice with a committee, a board of directors or other higher-ups in the organization. A well-written thank you note after an interview might be the item that pushes your resume to the top of pile. It shows your interest in the position and reiterates your skills and why the company should hire you.

From a sales perspective, clients have many choices when it comes to contracting with a supplier. Make your product or service stand out by reminding the potential client of your dedication to providing the best possible service.

Dealing with Difficult Situations: The Bargaining and Negotiation Tactics That Work

Sales negotiations are ideally supposed to flow in a mutually beneficial direction. But that’s not always the case. We sometimes run into negotiation counterparts who are downright difficult. In such a challenging negotiation, strong emotions and feelings of desperation may easily set in, increasing the odds of losing the deal.

It is not easy to manage such difficult negotiations, but with the right tactics, you can turn the challenge into an opportunity each time. Here are the tactics to employ if your find yourself in a difficult negotiation situation.

 

Don’t react, stay calm

Being faced with an adversarial or even abusive negotiation counterpart can make you lose your cool. But that will not benefit the negotiation. To keep your emotions in check, start by taking a deep breath.

A deep breath helps you retain your composure by stopping you from plunging into a fight-or-flight response. With your heartbeat and breathing in check, your mind can work optimally to figure out the next smart move.

Even though an unexpected display of anger can frighten some people into making concessions that benefit your interests, this approach can be counterproductive. In most cases, the anger will only convey desperation and not strength on your part. Also, strong emotions tend to cloud your judgment, keeping you from thinking clearly. This could lead you into giving in prematurely.

It helps to retain your composure, take a step back from the hard line, take an objective look at the dispute, and plan your comeback. In all cases, always remain professional as you approach the negotiation.

 

Disarm the other party by acknowledging their points of view

Because everyone wishes to get the advantage in a bargain, the last thing a person will expect is for you to cross over to their side. For a particularly difficult person, this should be one effective way to make them lower their guard.

Start by acknowledging the disagreement as you express the willingness to understand the person’s point of view. Consider acknowledging their position and make it clear that you realize the position is important to them.

Such a concession will go a long way in calming the adversarial negotiator down. What this does is show the person that you are willing to hear them out – people like to be heard and their points recognized.

Take a moment to play along. It doesn’t mean you are drifting away from your standpoint, it’s just a necessary break to create a conducive atmosphere where everyone can be adequately heard.

Encourage the person to talk by asking them solicitous, open-ended questions that help clarify the nature of their hardline position. You’ll notice that this also helps you understand the interests behind the other party’s position. Such understanding also normally helps open your eyes to vistas of alternative ways to resolve the sticking point.

With this, the atmosphere should slowly change from one of conflict into one of collaboration. Ultimately, you’ll be able to respond more accurately to the actual points of concern, rather than just offering general responses to things that you have assumed in your head. Done properly, this tactic should indicate genuine interest to your negotiation counterpart and completely shift the nature of the conversation for the better.

 

Transfer the focus to the less contentious aspects of discussion

Once you have sufficiently understood the nature of the adversarial situation, it is sometimes a good idea to shift attention away from the most contentious item of discussion. This is basically a tactical move to diffuse the tension before you can return to the topic from a less contentious angle.

Reframe the dialog around some items of collaboration. What are the shared interests that you both have? What constitutes the foundation of your working together? Is there a way this deal can help the customer save face? How getting this deal done will be a win for them?

Once you find answers to these questions in your head, it should be easier to remind the other party as to why they should see the deal through. Make them sober up and climb down from their high ground. Make them see why you are on the negotiation table in the first place and it will be easier to get them to say “yes”.

Pointing out the shared interests, helping the customer see why they need the services or product under discussion can be a great way to lead them into making a concession. Then, you can reintroduce the more difficult issue(s) in a more relaxed way once the tension has eased down.

 

Wrap up

As a salesperson, you will sometimes have to deal with a difficult customer. Sometimes the bargaining session may shift in the other party’s direction, and without good preparation, this can easily throw you off balance. However, arming yourself with these tactics should ensure that you survive (and increase your chances of winning) just about any sales situation.

Key Challenges for Effective Procurement Negotiation

The art of negotiation is not rocket science, but it’s not a breeze either—at least not with every supplier you’ll sit across. Some are sharks and the only secret to winning against them is having negotiation skills twice as good as the strongest shark you’ll ever encounter.

Mastering procurement negotiation might be a process but you’ve probably heard the saying ‘train hard, fight easy’.

Good thing is, it’s not always like that… The best-case scenario for a procurement negotiation is concluding with two smiles—yours and the supplier’s, having sealed a deal that favors both parties.

Knowing how to negotiate when decks are stacked against you and when factors are constant, is important. For an effective procurement negotiation, avoid these pitfalls:

 

1. Rushing

You need enough time to negotiate effectively. Sealing a deal in a hurry is a cardinal sin in procurement. Analyze the product and its value, hear the supplier out, make an offer and justify it to the supplier’s satisfaction. Never rush to buy or to seal a deal.

 

2. Lack of information and proper planning

You win half the battle in the preparation stage. Conduct thorough background research on the product and the supplier, have all important details at your fingertips including the supplier’s operational facilities, company history, management profile, their major clients, development plans, and history of performance; and prepare answers for all hard questions the supplier might have.

Suppliers do their homework. Don’t be caught flatfooted. Like Abraham Lincoln, if you have eight hours to chop down a tree, spend six sharpening your ax.

 

3. Closed mind

Remembering both of you want a favorable deal is key in effective procurement negotiation. Flexibility begets the same. Have your non-negotiable demands but don’t be so rigid with other things that you’re only looking at the extra dollar a product will cost, without paying attention to any unique properties or value the product might have or a special deal that’s tied to it. Listen, think, and ask questions.

 

4. Poor communication

Communication is a three-step process: encoding, decoding, reply. You speak, supplier understands, and then responds, and the wheel keeps rolling. If either of you does not listen, or understand, negotiation will stall.

You might have little to no control over how the supplier communicates, but be clear on your end to save the situation.

 

5. Overthinking the power dynamics

As a rule of thumb, never be in awe of the supplier, however big they are. You have what they want however small it is. You might not even know what’s important to them—it might NOT be money. If they didn’t want to have you on their list of clients, they would not be at the negotiating table with you.

Be well versed with the product, understand the market, and stick to your non-negotiable demands, your company’s bottom line, and the walk-away figure. Ask questions too and shoot for the best deal. If the offer on the table doesn’t work for you, it is what it is. Move on.

 

6. Using short-term negotiation tactics with long-term suppliers

It is one thing to want a product real fast and cheap, and another to want the same—great—product for a long-term supply, at the same price. Giving a supplier a thin margin when you have to, is okay, but if you’re looking to establish a cordial long-term relationship, make better offers. Your supplier will stay in business and you’ll be on the priority list.

 

Bottom line

A procurement negotiation is like a tug of war. The savvy supplier is pulling from one end, to squeeze the best deal out of you, and you are on the other side pulling harder to save your company every dollar possible. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll not be the one crossing the line in defeat.

 

Top 5 Essential Negotiation Skills for Salespeople

Successful sales are what makes businesses grow. But every so often, a customer will want to discuss the details of your contract with them before signing. Regardless of how well the sales process appears to have gone, your one-one-one interaction with the customer can always make or break the deal.

This is where effective negotiation skills come in. For a deal to survive past the negotiation table, certain skills come handy. So, here are five negotiation sills that a salesperson must possess to succeed in closing deals with customers.

 

Active listening

People want to feel that your product or service is going to solve their problem or satisfy their need. Oftentimes, the prospect wants to see how this is going to happen, and will ask questions that directly link your solution to their need(s).

It is only through active listening that you’ll be able to understand what the customer really wants. Don’t just fix your mind on closing the sale, pay attention to the customer – listen to both their spoken and unspoken messages and provide them with the answers.

When the customer is speaking, allow them to finish. Then, take a brief moment to evaluate the response in your head before you speak it out. The pause not only lets you refine your response but also shows the customer that you truly are thoughtful and interested in what they are saying.

It helps to speak slowly in a composed manner, articulating your words clearly to get the message across.

Whether it’s a face to face or phone conversation, you should be able to get the non-verbal cues that tell you more than the person says. Pay attention to these emotions and respond to them.

This way, you will create an atmosphere of trust and easily build a rapport with your leads. You’ll overcome the assumption that you are simply after the person’s money, and create the indication that you care for their needs.

Active listening enables you to properly address your prospect’s questions and match their focus. This makes it much easier to close sales.

 

Quick decision making

Negotiation is always about give and take. A customer will come with a set of demands, or the acceptable minimums. And you need to know just what concessions you can make and which ones you cannot take without hurting your business.

Since you won’t always know all the angles to expect before reaching the negotiation table, you should be able to make a proper decision in the heat of the moment.

It could be a huge discount that the customer is proposing, or even some extra support. A prospect could ask for premium features or even a bigger package. In any case, being able to evaluate the proposition and making up your mind quickly will be instrumental in letting you close sales before the prospect withdraws their business.

 

Knowledge of the product or service

Persuasion is inherent to any sales negotiation. Unless you are truly knowledgeable about the brand, product or service you are representing, you can easily lose a lead.

The customer simply isn’t looking to hear some unfounded justifications supporting the deal. Rather, they want to know how they’re going to benefit from buying what you are offering. This way, knowledge of the product is an essential sales skill. Demonstrate clear understanding of the products’ features so you can accurately present their benefits to the customer – that’s what persuades the customer to buy.

Also, even though most customers are likely to ask the same questions, there are cases where a customer will ask something particularly new or different. As long as you know your product in and out, you should have no problem navigating your way through any question that arises.

 

Assertiveness

Clear confidence in your brand can go a long way in assuring the potential customer about the value of your solution.

Customers generally respond well to enthusiastic reps who are passionate about their offerings, especially when they’re eager to clearly articulate the benefits.

What this means is, be willing and able to quantify the value of your product or service and share it with the prospect. A prospective client will be much likely willing to pay what a solution is worth if they clearly understand the value of that solution.

It is your job as a sales rep to establish that value and show confidence in your solution in terms of how it will benefit the customer. You will need to be assertive to be able to instil that confidence in the customer and give them a reason to buy.

 

Eloquence

You could have all the great ideas about your solution, but unless you can articulate it, you’ll have difficulty communicating it to the customer.

Though they usually need the solution, most prospects are often undecided whether or not to buy (from you). As a salesperson, it is your role to drive the prospect from their state of indecision to decision and be able to close the sale. Sometimes all you have is only few minutes with the customer. This is where some eloquence, coupled with sufficient knowledge of the product will guarantee a successful pitch.

Use a clear voice to explain the product detail by detail, enunciating all the useful features and linking them to the needs of the customer.  Done correctly, closing a sale will be a near guarantee.

 

Bottom line

Sales negotiations can feel intimidating to salespeople as no one wants to lose a well-qualified prospect. Nonetheless, while every negotiation can go in any number of directions, sales reps with these negotiation skills will be well-equipped to roll with the punches.

The Ultimate Guide to Sales Management: 6 Ways to Manage Sales Leads Better

The major function of the sales management department is conducting sales operations; planning, and implementing sales techniques.

Without proper sales management, you will not meet your sales targets, but with better sales management, you will exceed your set targets. A thin line lies between good and bad management. A small oversight might cost you and sometimes—you’ll be shocked to find out how much.

The sales management department holds the destiny of a company in its hands. It’s critical to the growth and development of any business because the bottom line is everything. The bigger the returns, the further you will go.

 

Effective Sales Management

Astute business people will tell you: there’s nothing in the sales management department that is too small for your attention. From building a team with diverse talents and skills, to arming it with effective sales tools, keeping everyone’s eyes on the bigger goal, projecting future performance, helping every team member tap into their power to achieve set objectives through analyzing past performance, visualizing future goals, proper planning, and smart goal-setting…the sales management team can’t afford to drop any ball.

Even as more attention is on market research, pricing of new products, marketing, promotion, advertising, and distribution to maximize profits… the above functions cannot be neglected. They play a big role in realizing a company’s sales management goals.

 

The Leader

Any sales team is as good as the sales manager. As Alexander the Great said, “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.”

A lion sales manager is keen on managing the processes, invested in both short-term and long-term sales goals, selling to customers’ needs, great at sales planning, and possesses these key skills: people management, motivation and coaching, building lasting relationships, and negotiation.

With a great team and a lion sales manager, these SIX surefire techniques will help you better manage sales leads:

1.Define ‘lead’ as a team – you need to agree on the point at which the sales team takes over the process, ensure it’s done at the right time, and that the client lands in the right hands first (which is only possible if their need is understood).

2. Understand your target – if you pay close attention, you’ll notice a trend with your leads. Maybe they share interests, they appeal to the same market or audience, they have the same fears or desires, etc. Understanding your lead will help you connect—and that right there is what people buy. They can get the same product or service elsewhere, but they would rather get it from someone who understands their needs better.

 3. Effective Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) systems – according to Tech Target, “[effective] CRM systems compile customer data across different channels, or points of contact between the customer and the company, which could include the company’s website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials, and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers’ personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.”

4. Track the source of your leads – understanding what is working for your company and what is not will help you focus on your best campaigns and, or lead generation platforms, and inform your decisions on improving the others that are not as effective in filling the pipeline.

5. Effective communication – sometimes the difference between closing a deal and being passed over is communication. A client could urgently need your service or product. Moving in fast ensures you seal the deal and move on swiftly. All players in the ever fast-paced business world frown upon sluggish sales processes. Keep tabs on your communication channels to keep business opportunities from slipping through your fingers! It’s a good idea to know everything you can about effective communication—in spoken words, writing, and the unspoken (body language).

6. Touch base with the team – nothing beats a team that works together. Meet every once in a while, to ask the pertinent questions relating to your sales management position: Where are we? Where do we want to be? What are we doing right? Where do we need to improve? Who needs help? How are our systems and processes? How’s the quality of our leads? How fast are we converting? As you reward individual efforts, remember a team is as strong as its weakest link.

 

Wrap up.

Effective sales lead management is pegged on a great sales manager, effective sales management systems, and a team that understands the procedures, processes, the dos, and the don’ts. You stand a good chance of breaking even or breaking barriers if you check these.

Negotiating Using the Challenger Sales Model

Is the Relationship Sale Still Relevant? 

There is a developing trend that indicates that the relationship sale is dying a slow death. The old path of using golf outings, dinner meetings, and ballgames to cultivate loyal customers seems to be falling to the wayside in a time of budget cuts and a move toward mass commoditization of once valued relationships, products, and services. Buyers are required to procure goods and services at the best possible balance of value, quality, and price regardless of who is selling it to them. SNI has always attracted the client who wanted to enhance the customer relationship by finding a mutually satisfactory process and outcome while maintaining the relationship for future deals. This is where we align perfectly with the Challenger Sales Model – by adding tools and skills to maximize outcomes when adopting this modern approach to selling. 

The Challenger Sale (Dixon and Adamson, 2011) is a seminal book on changing customers’ buying decisions and habits. Dixon and Adamson flipped relationship selling on its head and sent a generation of salespeople on the road to drive results rather than activities. 

Having access to over 6,000 Corporate Executive Board (known as CEB at the time, now Gartner) sales representatives who sold big-ticket services to medium/large businesses in a very down economy (2009), Dixon and Adamson studied the data and recognized the need to reinvent the sales model to reflect this new reality of complex, value-driven selling in order to survive and thrive in the B2B landscape. 

The Challenger Sales Model was a natural fit for SNI’s systematic approach of Negotiation (Prepare, Probe, Propose) and Influencing, and we were fortunate to be partnered with Corporate Executive Board for nearly a decade, including the gestational period in 2008 – 2011. 

SNI worked closely with the CEB on their customized Commercial Sales program for middle-market sales representatives. CEB selected SNI to develop skills in support of their sales model, which we did by molding our systematic approach to sales, negotiation and influencing the emerging Challenger model.

The Challenger Sale identifies 5 types of salespeople, and the research found that the “Challenger” profile far and away outperformed the other types. SNI was asked to help teach skills that ANY of the 5 types could use to improve results while the Challenger Model was being developed. 

Here is a quick rundown on how SNI and the Challenger Sale and Challenger Model work together, which drive better outcomes while establishing and maintaining relationships for future deals. 

 

Teaching & Changing Buying Habits 

To change buying behavior, the Challenger Sales Representative must prepare a plan of inquiry that helps the buyer to understand WHY it is important to consider a purchase now. 

SNI’s Preparation Planner was customized at CEB to incorporate the practice of researching and finding insights and leverage points around Precedents, Alternatives, Interests, and Deadlines as well as defining the differentiated value propositions that each of CEB’s myriad of services provides. Reps learned how to approach the sale more thoughtfully while strategically gathering information in an organized and meaningful way to help the buyer conclude, for themselves early in the sales cycle, that an offer is worth serious consideration. All preparation was focused on the monetization of value – helping the rep to tie the solution being pitched to its direct business impact on the potential client.

Instead of asking questions about the competition, pricing, budgets and buying processes, Challenger reps focus on asking prepared questions about interests, options, alternatives, and possibilities while making suggestions and seeking feedback. SNI’s preparation and probing model provided an effective framework for new and seasoned reps alike to rely on with a prospect or renewal opportunity in a complex B2B sale. 

 

Probing to Prioritize and Tailor Offers

SNI’s probing and scripting model was used as a “safe harbor” option for the mid-market reps who sold over the telephone. Even the best Challenger reps can be thrown off by an unexpected objection or challenge that was real or used to avoid making a buying decision. 

We believe time spent gathering information about interests and specific customer ‘pain’ has higher ROI than the traditional approach of connecting, proposing, persevere and try to make the final cut to close the deal. 

SNI has worked with a variety of clients who use the Challenger Methodology (e.g. Software, Technology, and Pharma Firms) and they have all found that SNI negotiation and influencing skills and tools enhance the Challenger Sale by teaching an efficient and effective preparation process, a model for probing for needs and interests beyond the traditional wants guidelines for making maximizing proposals, and scripting to fine-tune messaging. 

“Although our organization has implemented and maintains the Challenger sales methodology, which directs our sales professionals on “what” to do and “why”, we still need to ensure our sellers know “how” to do it and keep those basic skills refreshed. This is where SNI and The Power of Nice have been a great fit. As influencing and negotiation lives within the sales process and SNIs training have been a great complement to our ongoing Challenger sustainment.”

Aisha Wallace-Wyche

Diligent VP, Global Training and Enablement

Our process also helps reps navigate the Challenger process without the inherent risks of being too aggressive or making undesirable choices such as lowering price or sacrificing value. We help sales organizations protect the margin.

The SNI process prioritizes interests, allowing buyers and sellers to move past positions (e.g. “I need a better price” vs. “if this doesn’t go well it would be a disaster for me personally and our company”; “we need to start this project by the end of the week” vs. “we need this project to finish on time because…” ) to find creative solutions that define shared expectations for a variety of issues – price, conditions, service level agreements, timelines, deadlines and even basic communication commitments such as next steps and decision processes. Trust is enhanced, and influence is amplified. 

 

Taking Control and Maximizing Results at the Close

SNI and the Challenger Sale fit nicely together through the entire sales cycle. Buyers want less hassle, more certainty, reduced risk, and improved profits. SNI and the Challenger Sale meet at this intersection with simple yet highly effective habits (Prepare, Probe, and Propose) in a proven and relevant framework (Teach, Tailor, and Take Control). 

The final Challenger stage of Taking Control is guided by SNI’s guidelines for proposing. SNI and the Challenger Sale focus on always exchanging value while moving in your desired direction. It is a skill mastered by knowing when and how to make the proposal. 

 

Is the Relationship Sale Dead? 

All of this preparation, probing, and proposing in an effort to teach, tailor, and take control leads to a bit of an unexpected, but a desirable outcome. In a twist of ‘unconventional wisdom’, this authentic (yet planned, tailored, and scripted) approach tends to enhance the loyal customer relationship by building a foundation of mutual trust and respect as a partner. At SNI, we have discovered that it is not ‘the final deal’ that satisfies the buyer, but rather how the ‘final deal’ is reached that provides a higher level of mutual satisfaction with the result. We deliver a variety of techniques and tools to help sales professionals find the right words and steps to take and maintain control of the close. 

 

If your organization uses the Challenger Sales model and you are looking to maximize your investment, or, if you are considering negotiation training, please reach out for more information.