Sales Negotiation: How to Close the Deal

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If you’ve read Sales Negotiation: Set Yourself Up for Success and Sales Negotiation: Action Strategies, you should have some powerful tools to successfully negotiate your next contract or purchase. However, the best negotiators don’t stop when the handshake closes the deal. They leave the other party feeling like he or she was a strong negotiator who got the best deal out of you.

Have you ever negotiated for a souvenir in a third world market and wondered whether the seller would have taken less than you paid even though you were comfortable with the price you paid? People want validation that they made a wise decision regardless of its price. It doesn’t matter whether the item was a trinket or a car. This human need drives many people to continue comparison shopping after they’ve agreed to a deal and can’t back out.

As a best-in-class negotiator, you want the other party to believe he or she struck a good deal and that you wouldn’t have settled for anything less. Why should this be a priority? You never know when you might have to negotiate with them again, and besides, it’s just the right thing to do—leaving them with peace and confidence in the outcome. Below are a few remarks you can share when you ink the deal.

  • I’m glad we could strike a deal. I have to say that you’re one of the toughest negotiators I’ve dealt with in a long time.
  • You negotiated well. I wasn’t planning on giving away so much.
  • You drove a hard bargain. I hope I don’t have to negotiate with you again.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Sales Negotiation: Action Strategies

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Few want to play a game they have no chance of winning, and the same concept holds true for negotiating. Most people dread situations that require them to negotiate for a salary or even a purchase; hence, the opportunity for the likes of Saturn, the car manufacturer, to successfully enter the car market by offering a firm sticker price.

For those who find themselves unable to avoid negotiation, don’t fret, because you can improve their negotiation skills—perhaps to the point you believe negotiating is fun. I share some strategies for when you find yourself in the thick of it.

Key Negotiation Strategies

In the business world, negotiation is about finding common ground that is acceptable to both parties. I have a lawyer friend who once said, “A good deal is when both parties strike a deal in which each is just mildly disgruntled with the outcome.” I interpreted this to mean both got most of what they wanted but wished they’d gotten more. If you want to strike a deal and get more, keep these strategies in mind.

  1. Check your bravado and intelligence at the door. This is code for play dumb, so the other party underestimates you and comes to the negotiating table less prepared. Have you read Sales Negotiation: Set Yourself Up for Success?
  2. Always agree with people. Agreement always keeps the negotiation moving and allows you the opportunity to redirect the discussion toward what you want. For example, you are a new car salesman and have explicit instructions not to sell a car for less than $30,000. You have an interested buyer who tells you he can’t pay a penny more than $28,000. What do you say? Instead of responding, “Sorry, but I couldn’t possibly sell it for less than $30,000,” you might consider saying, “Since you are interested in the car, I’m motivated to find a way to get you into the car today at a price you are comfortable and can afford.” This can be followed with a series of questions that allows one to understand why the limit and how to work around it with other options such as lease, car trade-in, extended payment terms, etc. You want to avoid putting the other party on the defensive.
  3. Flinch at the first offer. When people are put into the position of making the first offer, they are attuned to watch for a reaction as a means of gauging whether their offer was good or not so good. Regardless of whether the offer meets your expectations, make sure you flinch—indicating that it is far from what you expected. This signal of your body language will notify the other party he or she must come lower if you’re going to make a deal.
  4. Position yourself to account to a higher authority. Most salespeople want permission to negotiate a deal from beginning to end without having to check back with management. Although you may have the skills to negotiate the best deal, you shouldn’t underestimate the value in saying, “I’ll have to go back and check with my manager. I’m not sure he’ll agree with it, but I will fight for you.” Indicating you need to check in with leadership puts more pressure on the other party to concede and allows you to play the infamous good cop/bad. Taking a pause also helps you gain perspective before continuing the negotiations.

I know some people who seem to negotiate everything. Negotiation is not for every situation. As a servant leader, I frequently give away what I could have easily negotiated. I think of it as an offering of good will and relationship building. Because these strategies are powerful, the best leaders know when to hold them and when to fold them.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Salary Negotiation: How to Avoid Divulging Your Current Salary

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Although I recognize that some employers and employees take advantage of each other, I’m passionate about fair pay for fair work. In the case of fair pay, the negotiating advantage usually goes to businesses, because they routinely have access to knowledge that employees don’t such as (1) what others in the organization are paid for similar work and (2) industry compensation data. Hence, it’s no surprise that many of my career coaching clients are anxious and frustrated by the thought of negotiating a salary with a new employer. They dread the thought of being asked what they currently make, believing their current salary shouldn’t have any bearing on what the new employer offers and unsure how to handle that question.

Although company culture, benefits, career advancement, commute, working from home options, and other attributes factor into a decision to join a new company, most employers try to offer prospects just enough pay increase to entice them to resign and work for them. Over the years, the workforce has come to expect offers that are 10-15% more than what a candidate currently makes regardless of whether he is underpaid for his given responsibilities and performance.

During the hiring process, prospective employers are keen to understand the current salary of job applicants in order to shape their offers. Although I understand businesses are driven to minimize labor costs, I believe it’s short-sighted to underpay candidates, who may take the job out of necessity and still feel taken advantage of.  For candidates who don’t want to divulge their salary, there are conversation strategies that can help.

Salary Expectation Conversation

Employer: “What salary are you expecting for this job?”

Candidate: “I’m only expecting to be competitively paid for the job responsibilities? What range have you earmarked for this position?”

Employer: “We have some flexibility for the right candidate. What do you make today?’

Candidate: “I’m seriously interested in the position and glad to hear you have flexibility. I don’t have access to the most recent competitive salaries like you do, so what range are you prepared to offer for the right candidate?”

Or how about ….

Salary Offer Conversation

Employer: “How much are you currently making?”

Candidate: “I’m curious. Why do you need this information?”

Employer: “We need the information, so we can make you a job offer?”

Candidate: “I’m confused how my current salary is relevant to the compensation for this job? I’d welcome an offer. What are you be willing to pay for the job responsibilities and performance criteria we discussed?”

You’ll notice in both scenarios that the candidate answered each question with a question. These two conversations can be difficult for candidates, who don’t believe they hold power in the negotiation. Don’t be fooled. Businesses are desperate for good talent. If you know you are a performer, you hold more power at the negotiating table than you might think.

If you’d like to strategize on a salary negotiation for a new position or more pay for additional responsibilities at your current company, let’s schedule a coaching session. You can reach out to me at 281.793.3741 or coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Sales Negotiation: Set Yourself Up for Success

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The 80/20 rules applies to many situations and negotiation may be no exception. Sales negotiation can be thought of as a three-step process: (1) preparation, (2) engagement, and (3) deal agreement. Some people may say that 80% of negotiation success is in the preparation, which may or may not be overstated. However, it does beg the question: what are you doing to set yourself for success before going into a negotiation?

Key Negotiation Prep Factors

Although the objective of a negotiation should be to reach a win-win, it pays to be smart, and smart usually means being prepared. In my business tenure, I’ve negotiated long-term deals that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so I know a few things about negotiating, including some learned the hard way—through the experience of trial and error. I do believe success is heavily influenced by the degree of preparation and a few of my favorite preps include:

  1. Be prepared to walk away. The only way that most negotiators are prepared to walk away is if they know their drop-dead minimum and why it’s their drop-dead. Is it margin, risk, or some other variable? What’s the alternative value of the resources or asset utilization? Many people think they have a minimum position, but when the negotiating gets intense, the minimum usually moves to a lower position. When negotiators have thoroughly thought out their position, the minimum doesn’t move, and it becomes easier to confidently walk away.
  2. Brainstorm things to offer and concede. When entering into a negotiation, people aren’t necessarily wanting the same thing nor assigning the same priority to certain items. Knowing that a negotiation will likely mean trading off and giving positions to the other party, a savvy negotiator will make a list of things to ask for that can easily be conceded, because they don’t hold much value.
  3. Position yourself so you don’t make the first offer. The party that makes the first offer takes on more risk of leaving value on the table. Is the first offer significantly below what the other party was willing to pay? On the other hand, if the first offerer asks for too much, he could position himself out of the negotiation. Always think of a strategy and questions to ask that will get the other party to make the first offer. If asked to make the first offer, an experienced negotiator will answer with a question that puts the other into a position of offering first.

Many people are at least slightly intimidated by the negotiating process. What many don’t realize is they are negotiating daily with their coworkers, boss, family, friends, and kids. Any time you got your way, you negotiated. Negotiation is a skill and just like a muscle can be strengthened when intentionally exercised.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Where Are Your Best Conversations?

ConversationsYou’ve likely heard the real estate advice that the three most important factors in deciding which home to buy are location, location, and location. In Bob Goff’s book Everybody Always he discusses the impact that location can have on the quality of our conversations with people. He asserts that “location drives content, [and] if you have the right conversation at the right place, you just had the right conversation” (Goff, 2018, p. 182).

Reflecting on this concept, perhaps I should emphasize more the location where I coach, do ministry, and have work-related conversations. Perhaps I should be as choosy in where I have a conversation as I am on what we plan to discuss. Location can calm or excite, stimulate creativity, or increase nervousness. Next time you plan a meeting or conversation, select a location that supports what you want to achieve. If you’re limited on venues, how else could you change the environment to make it more conducive to the conversation?

I know a salesman who loves to bring a variety of ice creams to his customer meetings held in formal conference rooms when he wants to break the ice and have fun. He stores a freezer bag in his trunk and stops at the local grocery store to pick up Nutty Buddies, Klondike bars, and Good Humor variety packs. He delights when his customers struggle on what colorful ice cream goodie they want and reminisce about the last time they had a Strawberry Shortcake on a stick as they lick their ice cream. You get the picture. He has everyone sharing stories and smiling—creating connection in the room—countering the formalness of the location.

Bob Goff has a lot of creative conversations, so where do you think he holds office hours? Read the book and find out.

Reference

Goff, B. (2018). Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

What’s Your Story? How Well Does It Sell?

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Who doesn’t like a good story? When you think of the times you were most wrapped up in a conversation, I’d bet you were listening intently to someone unfolding a good story. Why? Because a good story connects people like a common and universal language.

The power of a good story was brought home while I was reading Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. The book focuses on why developing a story that puts the customer as the hero of his/her own story is a powerful marketing strategy. Miller (2017) shares that every successful story has specific elements and events: (1) a character, (2) a problem, (3) character meets guide, (4) guide gives plan, (5) character is inspired to action, and (6) success results or failure is avoided. Blockbusters have proved this theme to be true over and over again as exemplified in such movies as Star Wars and Hunger Games.

What makes for a good story? A good story answers three specific questions: (1) What the hero wants? (2) Who or what is opposing the hero of getting it? and (3) What the hero’s life will look like if he or she gets it? If you’re marketing your business, you need to answer those questions and answer them fast with the least amount of noise.

Miller (2017) asserts that successful businesses have developed websites and marketing materials that within 5 seconds of looking at them, potential customers can answer:

  • What the business offers?
  • How the product or service will make their life better?
  • What they need to do to buy it?

How do your marketing materials stand up to the storyline test? Do they clearly and succinctly communicate what problem you solve and the impact to the customer? Do they challenge the customer to act? If the answer is not a resounding “yes” to all these questions, perhaps you should revamp your marketing and advertising. You’ll be happy you did but be forewarned that making these changes will be harder than you think. Most people are not conditioned to think in this way when designing marketing materials.

Reference

Miller, D. (2017). Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen. Nashville, TN: HarperCollins.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

See Your Revenue Increase When You Switch from Sales Training to Sales Coaching

Sales Growth

Will 2020 be the year when companies have 20/20 vision on how to implement an effective sales training process that delivers the expected and sought-after performance? With US-based companies spending nearly $20 billion per year on sales training, why do they settle for traditional sales programs where 85% of the content is lost within 90 days (SRG, 2018)? The more effective program is strategic and tactical coaching which can potentially increase revenue by 20%.

Ideally, the sales manager would be the coach; however, most sales leaders don’t have the coaching skills or time to invest in their sales staff. For this and other reasons, an external sales coach can be part of the sales training solution—working with the sales leader and meeting one-on-one with a sales rep on day 30, 60, and 90 after the initial training. In most scenarios, sales coaching in itself brings substantial and sustainable benefits regardless of whether formal training is part of the process.

A coach can help the sales professional with approaches to new accounts or how to sell deeper with an existing client. A coach can also help the sales team to:

  • identify and overcome specific account obstacles
  • prioritize accounts based on risk/reward
  • create specific customer strategies
  • review and understand contributors to success
  • develop plans for improvement
  • build general sales skills in preparation and execution
  • increase sales team cohesiveness and teamwork

More companies are realizing the value of individual coaching for its sales team. Group training can still be part of the process, but to sustain the impact of the training investment it should be paired with one-on-one coaching. Coaching is the sign of the future. Are you ready to get on board and make more effective use of your training dollars?

Reference

Sales Readiness Group. (2018). Maximizing the Effectiveness of Sales Training: Five Factors for Developing Sustainable Selling Skills.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Is DISC in Your Sales Tool Kit?

discprofilewheelSalespeople are usually seeking ways to connect with customers, and some of the most strategic utilize the power of DISC. If you haven’t heard of the DISC personality profile, it’s an acronym representing four behavioral styles: dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness. People can be a mixture of all four but typically act out behaviors that align with one or a blend of two primary styles. Strategic salespeople leverage the power of DISC by adjusting their approach, words, presentation, and pace to the prospects’ preferred style and the role the customer plays as influencer, approver, decision-maker, or recommender.

DISC (www.discprofile.com) measures (1) the degree a person naturally prefers to be outgoing as opposed to reserved and (2) the extent to which a person is people- versus task-oriented. Although there are many exceptions, people who gravitate toward finance, accounting, and analysis are typically strong C’s. CEOs tend to be D-driven. Commonly, salespeople are strong I’s, which explains why they typically approach their clients with enthusiasm, as if they too are I’s. Strong S-people are drawn toward jobs where they can support teams such as Human Resources and Training & Development.

Salespeople should ask enough questions to determine what behavior styles each client favors. The clients’ preferences and role they play in the purchase decision should influence how the salesperson approaches the sales process. For example, “C” clients will prefer to know the facts, measure the ROI, thoroughly understand the alternatives, and focus on efficiency. They will likely ask a lot of questions and may extend the sales process until they get answers. On the other hand, a “D” client will be about action. Once D’s decide something needs to be addressed, they look to solve it and solve it fast, so they can move on to the next decision that needs to be made. Salespeople should focus on the benefits and minimize the details; otherwise, they will lose the attention of this decision-maker.

High-performing salespeople intentionally get to know the personalities and behaviors of their clients and adapt their style to match. They don’t have a one-size fits all approach. Although salespeople have a tool kit, the DISC personality assessment can be one of their most effective tools when they know how to use it.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Sales Success: Where do You Focus First?

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As a coach, I’m an advocate of always having a vision for every area of your life, whether it be marriage, career, or what you want to accomplish in the position you currently have. In my opinion, salespeople have some additional pressures, because their success is usually dependent on influencing others as opposed to working on tasks that are easily self-controlled. You could say that sales people have pressure to “close the deal” by the “close of business” which is no small task.

With so much emphasis on closing the deal, where does the salesperson spend most of his or her time, energy, and effort with a customer? A search for the best sales training would have you believe it’s anywhere but the beginning, as promotions abound for “selling with stories,” “driving to a close,” and “sales presentation training.” I’m sure there are useful insights delivered by each program, but what I believe is missing is how to take the very first step with the customer, which is the farthest point from winning the deal.

Instead of focusing on the end, I suggest the focus be on taking the first successful step with the customer. You’ll never have the opportunity to make a second first impression, and a first impression is made within the first 10 seconds. Studies show there are two questions a person will try to answer about you when they first meet you: (1) Can I trust you? and (2) Are you competent?

Maybe the best way to successfully close business is to focus on how to open business—the first conversation. I’m not referring to idle chit-chat or talking about your credentials. Forget about the weather or traffic, which are meaningless banter. I’m talking about forming a genuine connection based on finding out who you know in common or asking questions about your prospect’s background?

If you’re good with your opening, your customers will be able to answer “yes” to their two burning questions. When you earn trust and credibility, usually everything else that follows falls into place.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Are You Suffering From Death By Meeting?


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Businesses usually drive toward cost-effective processes and spend money on value-added services. Therefore, I find it perplexing that during my long tenure in Corporate America, businesses have neither mastered nor intentionally attempted to improve meeting efficacy. Employees complain that meetings have consumed their work day. By current statistics, middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings and senior management upwards of 50%.

With all the experience employees have in meeting participation, one would expect them to be masters in planning and leading meetings. Instead, statistics reveal employees agree that the majority of meetings are unproductive or just plain wasteful. In laymen terms, employees are suffering from Death by Meeting. Ask yourself whether you commonly experience any of these symptoms?

  • You’re more interested in reading your incoming iPhone messages than what’s being discussed in the meeting
  • You plan the rest of your day in your mind or worry how you’re going to get the work piling up on your desk done while sitting in meetings
  • Your thoughts speak, “This meeting is a waste of my time.”
  • You question why you were invited
  • You get annoyed that a few tend to monopolize the conversation or too much time is spent catching up a few late attendees
  • You bring your laptop so you can get other work or personal to-dos done
  • You come late to meetings and find excuses to leave early
  • You avoid meetings by asking for a summary afterwards
  • You know shortly into the meeting it will run over or end on time without any decision
  • You routinely attend meetings with no clearly defined purpose or definite resolution so a second meeting will be scheduled to continue the discussion
  • You believe an email could have handled the situation

Meetings can be a powerful internal business tool and require strategy, planning, and execution. Great meeting skills can be learned. Ask me how I can help you or your organization leverage the power of effective meetings and treat those Death by Meeting symptoms.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com