Subscribe
    Subscribe to The Art & Science of Complex Sales

    The most successful negotiation is the negotiation that isn't needed

    New Call-to-action

    The last few years it seems that each time it snows, even a little, they cancel school.  Are school officials convinced that parents and bus drivers will put kids' safety in jeopardy because snow is falling? 

    They weren't worried about such things when I was growing up  and back then, we didn't have cell-phones, all-wheel drive, anti-lock breaks, traction control, all-weather radials, blind spot warning, collision warning or lane assist! Winter drivers are better equipped to deal with snow than at any time in history so cancelling school every time it snows doesn't make any sense.

    Why are we negotiating?

    Another thing that doesn't make any sense is the "Negotiate" step I see in the sales processes of most companies. Why is it there? Why are we negotiating? What are we negotiating? How are we negotiating? The only thing that's clear is when we are negotiating and apparently, it occurs just prior to closing. Like cancelling school when it snows, it doesn't make any sense.

    Having "negotiate" as a step in your sales process doesn't make any sense.
    Dave Kurlan

    If we begin with the concept of why we are negotiating, it might answer the what and how questions too. If our salespeople are thoroughly qualifying, and they get their prospects to agree to share their budget, agree to a dollar amount or range, or better yet, that they'll spend more to do business with us, we should never have to negotiate prices, fees or cost.  Is that step in most sales processes?  It sure as sh*t should be!

    So if we shouldn't be negotiating the price, are we negotiating terms? In my experience, when salespeople qualifying properly, only terms need to sometimes be negotiated.  In the normal world, sellers set their terms; not buyers. But in Bizarro sales world buyers (at most big companies) try to bully sellers into agreeing to their ridiculous terms. 

    This week, one company said that their terms are Net 75. I said, "I'm sorry, but we can't solve your problem and be your bank. Our terms are due on receipt of invoice and it's non-negotiable." 

    They said, "Oh, OK."

    I could have said, "If you can get us 50% on receipt of invoice, we'll let you pay the balance net 30. Would that have been a negotiation? Of course it would. But it would be the exception, not the rule, and it wouldn't require a negotiation step in the sales process!

    The existence of a step in the sales process requires that we must always execute this step. The belief that we must negotiate price, terms, deliverables or anything else puts salespeople in a situation where they are expected to sacrifice profitability. And companies wonder why their margins are being squeezed.

    According to data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of 1,940,438 salespeople, only 13% of all salespeople have the Negotiator competency as a strength. Only 13%!!  If you force your salespeople to negotiate, most of them will give away the farm! OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and while the Negotiator competency isn't one of the 21, you can see the data on the 21 Sales Competencies and how you and your salespeople compare here,

    Sell value instead

    Instead of negotiating, your salespeople should be mastering selling value. Selling value completely neutralizes the need for negotiating and while fewer than 50% of all salespeople have the Value Seller competency as a strength, that's a lot better than the percentage of salespeople who can negotiate.

    Stop telling your salespeople to negotiate and get them the training and coaching they need to effectively sell value. The most successful negotiation is one that never occurs.

    What do you think?

    Article originally published on Dec 9th, 2019 on
    Dave Kurlan's blog
    Dave Kurlan
    Published February 2, 2020
    By Dave Kurlan

    Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best selling author, successful entrepreneur and sales development industry pioneer. The founder and CEO of the Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools, headquartered in Westboro, Massachusetts. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He has 3 decades of experience in all facets of sales development, including consulting, training, coaching, selection, strategy, systems, processes, and metrics.

    Find out more about Dave Kurlan on LinkedIn

    Recommended Reading