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Research Triangle Business Advisors

October 2013 Newsletter


Finding Sales Success...

Sales success is achievable if the seller uses tools, techniques, and proven strategies. Unfortunately, top managers and new sales people don't always understand the basics that bring repeatable success. And, the seasoned veteran sales professionals often forget the value of following the basics.   I had to decide to cover this topic in one article or break it up over a few smaller articles over the next months.  I decided to put it all in one place and at one time. This month's article is a bit longer than my normal short subjects. This newsletter attempts to cover sales from "soup to nuts." I'm sure you will find at least a couple of items that will help you improve your sales success. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.


Bob De Contreras




Finding Sales Success

1.  Selling Skills

Selling is an art and a science.  Successful sales people never sell the same way twice.  They understand, shift, communicate, present, negotiate and more in different proportions depending on the situation, client needs, and products or services they are selling.  However, the sales process does have basic steps that include:

  • Prospecting – searching for and finding prospective buyers (customers).

  • Synchronization – aligning buyer needs with seller capabilities.

  • Need Generation – understanding buyer needs and if necessary, expanding to needs that are satisfied by seller capabilities.

  • Buyer Qualification – does the buyer have a genuine need?  Is the seller able to value justify the solution based on cost savings and other benefits? Is the person being sold to able to buy?  Is the need recognized across the organization?

  • Buy Cycle Control – the buyer controls the decision to buy; the seller controls the buy cycle (the steps in the buy cycle).

  • Negotiation – when do you negotiate; in every step of the buy cycle.

2.  Situational Fluency

In order to be an effective sales person requires a basic set of skills that are driven by the need for flexibility in the buy cycle. These skills are continuously changing based on where the seller is in the buy cycle.  This goes from marketing and prospecting all the way up to the signed contract. These skills can be grouped into four basic areas:

  • Situation Knowledge – a sale can’t happen until the seller understands the environment.  This includes things like the buyer’s industry, the buyer’s company and purpose, the buyer’s competitive environment, the buyer’s organizational structure, and buyer’s buying process.

  • Selling Skills – to effectively control the buy cycle, the seller needs a toolbox of sales tools and techniques.

  • Capability Knowledge – the seller can’t verify and align buyer needs to seller capabilities without knowing the products or services being sold.

  • People Skills – people buy from people so, successful sales people have excellent communication, listening, questioning, and relationship building skills.

We will discuss developing some of these skills later in this article, but the best approach would be for sales people to attend formal sales training education offerings.

3.  Sales Person Vocabulary

Often sales people are characterized by that time honored image of the “used car salesman.” Most people do not have a good view of sales people. Adjectives used to describe them include: liars, cheaters, slimy, fast talkers, double talkers, etc. Therefore, top sales people use vocabulary that does not make them sound like that “used car salesman.”  Likewise, top sales people don’t use “wimpy words.”  These are words that imply a lack of self-confidence or lack of belief in the communication they are presenting.  These are both about the sales person sounding more professional.  Examples of words that should never leave the lips of a sales person include:

  • “If I / We Could (Show you/Give you/Solve)…”

  • “Trust Me”; “Let Me Be Honest With You:”; “Honestly”

  • “No Problem”

  • “You Need”

  • “Solution”

  • “Deal”

  • Wimpy Words

  • “Maybe”

  • “Possibly”

  • “A Little Bit”

  • “How’s it Going”

  • “Information” (be specific – “production capacity information”)

  • Marketing Hype

  • “Leading, Robust, Advanced, Unique, Integrated, Powerful, Innovative, etc.”

4.  Selling Principals

There are many books that have been written on the subject of selling skills or selling principals.  To present all the information on this topic is beyond the scope of this article.  Therefore, what follows is one view of the most important selling principals or basics. These principals are based on the fact that the top sales people have conversations, ask questions, and are Interactive with the buyer.  This is in contrast to less successful sales people who tend to make “canned” presentations, tell the buyer what they need, and are repetitive (telling the same story over and over again like a song on the radio).

  1. Business Need or Pain is the Reason for Change

The top, number one, most important principal is that if the buyer does not have a need, they won’t buy.  Need can be anything and often is called a “pain.” You may have heard the phrase, “No pain, no gain.” It’s like when your blood sugar drops late in the morning and you just must have a candy bar to get your energy back.  You buy that candy bar because you “need it.”  But, maybe in the afternoon you may think about running to the candy machine, you don’t because you are concerned about gaining weight and choose some fruit instead. If sales people want to make a sale, they have to first find the buyer’s reason for change – the need.

  1. Reasons for Change

The reasons for change can be one of three things – something is increasing, decreasing or the government is involved. Examples include:

  • Increasing includes things like: Costs, demand, resources, and project cost, size, and requirements.

  • Decreasing includes things like: Customer satisfaction, customer base, quality, productivity, skill level, and time with the user.

  • Government includes things like: Regulation, reporting, accounting methods, safety, OSHA, and SEC.

  1. Ask Before You Tell

There is a good lesson that sales people can take from doctors.  Doctors diagnose before they prescribe.  They do the diagnosis even if they already know what’s wrong with the patient.  Let’s look a situation that occurs in the doctor’s office:

You have a cough and sore throat, you came to see the doctor, and when the doctor comes into the examination room he says:

“Good morning, how are you doing today?  What seems to be the problem?”

You respond with: “I have a sore throat and a cough.”

He immediately says: “Here take this prescription and have it filled, take one pill morning and night until it’s all gone.  If you don’t feel better in a week call me.”


Your response is, “Because you didn’t ask me anything.”

The doctor might respond to that thought with, “Oh! Well you didn’t know, but there is a flu bug going around, you’re the 10th patient I’ve seen today with the same symptoms, it had to be that and I gave you a prescription to ease the symptoms.”


Your response to that might be, “You still didn’t look at me - you didn’t examine me.”

The doctor might respond to that thought with, “Didn’t you see my diploma on the wall.  Don’t you know that I went to school for 20 years to get those diplomas?”


Your response to that might be, “I want you to examine me and diagnose my illness and then prescribe the medication based on the diagnosis!”

This little story explains why your doctor always checks your heart, your ears, your eyes, your throat, your reflexes, etc., even when you come in to see him with a problem with the nail on your big toe. The diagnosis is not for the doctor, it’s for you – so you feel like he has diagnosed your situation.  It’s the same with sales – your buyer wants to feel like you have diagnosed his situation before you prescribe your solution. Top sellers ask a lot of questions.

  1. Salesperson Success Over Time

Looking at salesperson performance or success over time, studies show that new salespeople ask a lot of questions because they don’t have experience or product knowledge to talk about.  They have no choice but to ask the buyer questions.  Because of this fact these inexperienced salespeople find a good level of success and a growing sales contract count.  Then as time goes on they build a level of experience and they want to take shortcuts to speed up the sales process.  They start telling the buyer what they need, they ask fewer questions and sales success falls off.  Buyers don’t like being told what they need.  No matter how smart or experienced the seller is, people just don’t’ like being told what to do.

To bring this concept to reality, try this little experiment.  Choose the person who loves you the most.  Don’t choose your mother, because moms have unconditional love and they will accept anything you do.  Then tell this person who loves you the most to do four things.  For example, you might say, “You need to wash the car, you need to pick up my laundry, you need to clean out the closet and you need to clean up the bedroom.” Try that and see what kind of reaction you get from this person who loves you the most.  If you’re like most people you don’t need to do the experiment – you know what kind of reaction you will get.  So, if the person who loves you the most won’t take you telling them what to do, what makes you think the buyer will? Ask, don’t tell.

  1. Plateaus of Business Need

There are three plateaus or levels of business need.  They are foreground, background and vision of a solution. These plateaus describe the buyer’s mental image of needs and solutions.

A foreground Need is one where the buyer recognizes the need, but does not know how to solve it. A background Need is one where the Buyer is ignorant of the need or rationalizes that the need can’t be satisfied. A vision of the solution is the result of the buyer and seller participating together in determining the when, who, what, via of the buyer’s solution to his need.  The sales process then is the sales person using the diagnosis or asking questions to move the buyer from background need to foreground need to the vision of the solution.  If the sales person has done a good job, this vision will be the one using the seller’s capabilities. The reference story, anxiety question, capability question, and feature statement are sales tools to build to the vision of the solution. This process is sometimes called needs development

The vision of the solution might look like the following:

You’re (who) driving home after work in your car (when), in a severe thunder storm - it’s raining cats and dogs. It’s one of the worst storms you have ever seen.  All the way home you think about how you’re going to get soaked or hit by lightning running from your car to the garage door to open it (what).  Wouldn't it be nice if you could push a button on a little box (via) that is attached to your sun-visor, yes from the comfort of your clean and dry car seat, and the garage door would open automatically so you could drive into the garage without having to get out of your car in the pounding rain?  If this was possible would that help?

  1. The Reference Story

The reference story has two primary purposes that are highly interdependent:  To get the buyer to conclude the seller is competent and to get the buyer to admit need to the seller.  The reference story is also good for getting buyers to take new sellers seriously, and help the seller with products that are difficult to explain. The reference story is really an advantage statement that is very useful early in the buy cycle. A structured reference story is a way to demonstrate to the buyer that your capabilities have been used by another client to solve a similar problem.  The structure is very simple, but often people have to practice a little before they get good quality reference stories.  The structure is a list of statements:

  • Situation – industry and job title of person owning the problem

  • Issue – a description of the problem or buyer need

  • Reason – a description of why this is a problem or what caused the problem

  • Vision – the buyer’s vision of the solution

  • Proposed -  description of what the seller proposed

  • Results – the quantified results of the solution implementation

Here is an example of the reference story:

SITUATION: A Global Computer Manufacturer. Issue Faced by VP of e-Learning

This e-learning executive at a global computer manufacturing company faced the ISSUE of continuous server hardware design and engineering improvements, which obsoleted training courses very quickly.  Training videos were obsolete even at product general availability and flawed video CDs remained in the field for as long as two years.

The REASON was that this company was utilizing a traditional video CD-ROM method of training. The 17-week production process for the CD was inherently flawed by course content that became obsolete even before initial production had ended and the high cost of video production prevented updates.

This e-learning executive’s VISION OF A SOLUTION was using Internet-based training that could be easily updated, less time consuming and more cost-effective. The solution would have to be interactive and realistic to accurately portray the intricacies of this server hardware.

Acme PROPOSED using its interactive 3D solution to provide a virtual “hands-on” method to convey the necessary information. The new media could also be updated easily, viewed over the Internet and eliminate the need to dispose of the obsolete CDs that had a tendency to be used even after they were obsolete and two-to-three years old.

Originally, this company was spending $37,000 to produce one product CD. The total number of CDs produced annually, including “refreshes,” was 24 for a total cost of $888,000. The Acme interactive 3D solution, including models and more frequent updates, cost $318,000. The RESULTS were a total savings from the Acme solution of $570,000 or 64% of the previous budget for training on this product.

  1. The Anxiety Question

A good diagnosis tool is the combination of the anxiety question, the capability question and the feature statement.  This tool is based on the selling principal of “hurt and rescue.”  The hurt is using questions to get the buyer to focus on his need.  The seller uses questions to get the buyer to literally “feel the pain.” The rescue is the seller asking if a seller feature would solve the need (pain).  Here is an example:

Anxiety Question: What if you were in New York waiting for a flight to Los Angeles.  You decide to check your phone messages and you have seven.  Halfway through your messages you hear the last call for your flight.  When you arrive in Los Angeles you check the rest of your messages while you wait for your luggage.  The next message you play is your assistant telling you the meeting in Los Angeles has been cancelled. How would you feel? (Not so good!)

Capability Question: What if there was a way for your assistant, your manager, or your family to “flag” specific messages as urgent and have those messages played first when you check your voice mail? Would that help? (Well, yes!)

Feature Statement: Our priority message feature can give you that capability.

  1. People Buy from People

People buy from people says more than those simple words.  First of all it says that “paper” does not sell.  That means that proposals, Request for Proposal responses, Request for Quotation responses, and other documents don’t sell. And, therefore generating paper is a waste of time with regard to winning and completing the buy cycle. 

However, people can do things that cause the buyer to be uncomfortable with buying from them.  We have all been made aware of the importance of the first impression.  The first impression, that first 60 seconds after meeting a person, can make the difference between sale and no sale.  The first thing we see in the first impression is how we are dressed and groomed.  Top sales people have learned how to “mirror” their buyer – dress and act like the buyer.  This is about helping the buyer be comfortable with the seller.  For example, if the buyer is dressed in a shirt, tie and coat, and the seller is in an open collar shirt, there is a misalignment.  The buyer might be thinking, “I can’t buy from this guy, he doesn’t even know how to dress professionally.” And, the sale is lost before the seller even starts the buy cycle.

The next thing that could derail the impression of the seller is Sincerity. Some people call this being genuine.  One of the things sales classes have taught can make the seller appear insincere.  They are taught to look around the buyer’s office when they enter.  Look for trophies, photographs, wall hangings, etc. Then use one of those items to seed the start of the discussion.  For example, “Is that a golf trophy?  Golf is a great game.  Do you play often?” But, if the seller is not a golfer or know a lot about the game of golf, it will only take the buyer a few seconds to figure that out.  The result is that the buyer sees the seller as insincere. The seller should only guide the discussion onto topics he is well informed on. Better yet, the seller should come prepared to kick off the discussion with some planned comments to show sincerity. This a good place to use the reference story. These comments could be comments about the seller’s company, the seller’s industry experience, and why the seller is there to meet the buyer. If the seller is not seen as sincere, there is a high probability that there will not be a sale.

If the seller gets past the first impression and sincerity, the buyer is going to then be focused on competency. Think about it – would you trust or want to spend your valuable time with an incompetent seller?  Competency comes into play when the seller starts talking about why he is there. If the seller starts this part of the meeting with the proverbial, “How’s it going,” the meeting is probably going to end quickly.  At this point, the seller should extend or elaborate on the reference story with how he was involved, what he contributed to the situation, or how he has been involved in other similar situations. The discussion should be anything that builds credibility and shows competency.

People buy from sellers who understand the buyer’s situation. So, all during the first impression, sincerity and competency phases, the seller needs to show how he understands the buyer’s situation.  This could be understanding the buyer’s company (after a good question and answer phase).  Or, it could be understanding the buyer’s industry or similar customer situation.

As we discussed earlier in this article, buyers don’t like to be told what to do.  “You need…” should never leave the lips of the seller.  In the context of this part of the buy cycle, the seller should empower the buyer.  The buyers believe they know what they need and they want to make the decision to buy.  So, empower the buyer to make those decisions.  The seller owns the decision on how the buy cycle proceeds. 

The hardest thing about “people buy from people” is that they buy from people they like. Believe it or not, if the seller does the things we just discussed, he will be “liked.” Clearly there are some relationship skills, body language skills, and social skills that the seller must possess, but if the seller only talks on the planned topics and is prepared for the meeting, the buy cycle will progress.

  1. Sales Call Structure

Although top sales people don’t sell the same way twice, they do follow a basic structure. This structure consists of checkpoints along the buy cycle path to a signed contract. What goes on between the checkpoints can vary from sales meeting to sales meeting. But, the seller can’t miss any checkpoints along the way. The checkpoints are:

  • Rapport – Introduction, purpose for meeting.

  • Sincere – Seller tells reference story.

  • Competent – Shape reference story to buyer’s situation or extend.

  • Open Up and Talk – Seller asks questions to understand buyer view.

  • Admit Pain – The buyer must admit need in order to proceed.

  • Jointly Build Vision of Solution – Buyer and seller jointly build the solution.

We looked at rapport (first impressions), sincere and competent above. Now we will look at some of the effects of how well the seller does in these initial phases of the buy cycle. It turns out that if the seller has not shown sincerity, the buyer will not open up and talk.  The buyer will not be open to answering the seller’s questions. Likewise, if the seller has not shown his competency, the buyer will not admit his need (pain). It should be clear by now that the buy cycle will not progress unless the buyer is willing to answer questions and admit to his need.

If the seller has successfully made it through all the sales call checkpoints, he is ready to work with the buyer, and jointly develop the vision of the solution which uses the seller’s capabilities.  And, that leads to a sales contract.

  1. Buyers Make Emotional Decisions

Another reason for using the sales processes, tools, and methodologies we have discussed so far is that buyers often make emotional decisions. Buyers are not always consistent, predictable, or rational. Consider the following situation:

A golfer has not been thinking about anything but buying a new golf club - a Big Bertha.  Not a knock-off, but the real thing.  He’s decided to buy it at the country club on Saturday when he plays his regular round of golf.

When he gets to the club house, he gets into a conversation with his foursome and hears that one of their friends has been killed in a carjacking.

This has really touched close to home.  He immediately stops thinking about the Big Bertha and starts thinking about his safety and automobile security systems.  You know the kind you buy from Smith & Wesson.

This golfer wanted the Big Bertha because all the other members of his golf foursome had one.  It was not because he “needed” it – an emotional decision.  Clearly the decision to NOT buy the new golf club and buy from Smith & Wesson was an emotional decision. In this situation the seller cannot tell the buyer that he’s made a bad decision.  The only thing the seller can do is remind the buyer of his stated need and what the buyer said was his reason for his vision of the solution.

  1. Finding the Real Buyer

In order to have the best chance of getting to the signed contract, the seller must find out who has the power to buy.  And, the seller must get access to the power person.  There is a simple test to find out if the person being sold to can buy.  The seller can ask, “… If you decide that this solution is what you want, what then; does anyone else have to approve the purchase?” There are only two answers to the question.  The best answer for the seller is, “No one else has to approve the purchase - this is within my authority and budget.” With this answer the seller is on the way to a signed contract. The second answer is, “I have to take this recommendation to my manager for his approval.” At this point, the seller has just discovered that he has been selling to someone who cannot buy.  This is most often a waste of time.  At this point the person that was perceived to be the buyer will often say, “I’ll talk to my manager and tell him we need to have this solution.” In other words he is saying he will go sell to his manager.  The chances of success at this point are weak because no one will sell the solution better than you. Now the only way the seller can get to a signed contract is to get a meeting with the manager and start selling to him. Buy the way, when the seller gets to the point of agreement with the manager on the solution, the question has to be asked again to verify if this person has the power to buy.

Another important point related to finding the power person is the fact that power buys from power.  Just as the seller must find the person who can make the decision, the buyer wants to be working with the seller who can make the decision. This means the seller who can commit the resources of his company, agree to price discount and deliverables.  The buyer does not want to have to go searching for the real seller. This means that most successful sellers are empowered by their company to satisfy the buyer needs and make the sale.

  1. Buyer’s View of the Solution

One of the most difficult sales concepts for sellers to learn and accept is that the solution to their buyer’s need must be the buyer’s view of the solution. Inexperienced sales people know their capabilities and they know where and how they fit in the buyer’s company.  This leads to that trap of telling the buyer what they need – “You need this solution.” As we saw earlier, buyers don’t want to be told what to do. Now, this leads to a seller problem.  What if the buyer’s view of the solution does not include capabilities the seller provides? Again, the seller is tempted into saying something that could lose the sale.  Upon hearing the buyer’s vision of the solution, the seller might say something like, “… Oh! That’s not the best solution.  The best solution is [my solution] that uses [my capabilities].” The trap is that upon hearing this remark the buyer hears that comment as, “You’re a dumb executive and you have chosen a stupid solution.” Therefore, the best sales approach is to accept and agree with the buyer’s view of the solution. This keeps the buyer and seller in alignment with each other. The seller can now start working to expand the buyer’s vision of the solution to include capabilities of the seller. The seller does this by asking more questions. The buyer/seller dialogue might go something like this:

Buyer: “The way I’d like to solve this problem is to develop a mobile phone application and distribute it to all our customers.”

Seller: “That’s a great idea.

Buyer: “Thanks.”

Seller: “Would it also help if you could capture and save customer satisfaction comments from that new mobile application?

Buyer: “Well, I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, that would help.”

Seller: “Would it also help if your customer service department could be contacted by your customer directly from the new mobile application?”

Buyer: “Well, yes.”

Seller: “So, what I’m hearing is that you want to implement a new mobile phone application and you would like to also include the ability to track customer satisfaction and allow customers to contact your support department directly from that new application.”  Is that correct?

Buyer: “Yes, that’s correct.”

Seller: “Our customer support system can provide those capabilities and more.”

  1. Don’t Sell to Someone Who Can’t Buy

It’s not usually a good use of seller time to sell to someone who can’t buy.  If the person doesn’t have the authority to sign the contract or get the money for the sale, they can’t buy.  If the seller is “selling” to someone who can’t buy, the seller is basically doing free education, marketing or seminars. And, that means the seller is not going to meet sales goals.

“Selling” to someone who can’t buy is only a good idea if that interaction will get the seller introduced and access to the power person (the person who can buy).

5.  Buyer Focus Over Time

Research has shown that buyers go through phases of shifting concerns as they progress through the buy cycle.  These psychological steps a buyer goes through to buy, can predict the buyer’s behavior. Buyers usually express four typical concerns:

  • Do I have a need?

  • Is there a solution to my need?

  • What is the solution cost?

  • What is the risk of buying, or not buying?

We have discovered that as buyers progress through the buy cycle the priorities of each of these concerns change. Let’s look at each of these concerns in more detail.

The first thing a buyer focuses on is need.  They ask themselves if they have a need, and if they don’t perceive a need they don’t even start the buy cycle. Therefore, at the beginning of the buy cycle, buyer need has a very high priority.

Next the buyer focus shifts to cost.  The buyer now has a potential vision of a solution and the buyer wants to see if an affordable solution exists.

Then the buyer focus shifts to exploring the available solutions. At this point the buyer is comfortable with the need, cost, and vision of the solution and has made a decision to buy.  After the decision to buy has been made, the buyer focus shifts to risk.  The buyer starts worrying about the risk of making or not making the decision to buy. Risk includes thoughts like: did I choose the best product, will the poor economy impact my job, how long will the solution last, am I getting the best price, etc. If the seller sees the buyer getting nervous about the purchase, this is a good sign.  It means the buyer has made the decision to buy and is now focused on risk. It should be noted that the seller cannot help the buyer with feelings of risk. The buyers have to work it out by themselves. The only thing the seller should do if risk is seen is to remind the buyer of his stated need and benefits from the vision of the solution.

The four concerns change priority over time and to show this I have broken the buy cycle into three phases:

  • Phase I: Need definition. The buyer is concerned with questions such as: Do I need to change? What do I need? What are the reasons for my problem? Does this need impact others? How much does it cost?

  • Phase II: Evaluation of alternatives. The buyer evaluates alternatives with questions such as: Is there really a solution? What are my alternatives? Which one best meets my needs? Can I afford it?

  • Phase III: Taking action within risk considerations. Having made a mental selection, the buyer advances to risk-reward questions: Should I do it? What if I don’t? What are the consequences? Is it the right price?


Looking at the graphic shows that in Phase I: Need is the highest focus and risk the lowest focus. In Phase II: Solution is the highest focus and price the lowest focus. In Phase III: Risk is the highest focus and solution the lowest focus. The seller can stay in alignment with the buyer by understanding the buyers changing focus over the buy cycle.

6.  Why Sellers Lose the Sale

It’s a fact of human behavior that people don’t really want to hurt you. So, if the seller lost a sale and then asked the buyer why he lost, it’s not likely that the buyer would say the real reason.  The buyer does not want to say, “You were a poor sales person and I didn’t trust that you could do what you said.” Instead, buyers say things like, “They had a better price,” or “They were able to provide several features you couldn’t.” In the end, the seller does not know why it was a loss. 

Research has been done over the years and you might be surprised at the results.  On average, 15% of the time the seller wins the sale.  25% of the time the sale is lost to a competitor. And, 60% of the time the buyer makes a decision to not buy – a no decision. If a seller wants to improve his sales rate, he should focus on getting more of the “no decision” business.

That begs the question, “Why do buyers choose to not buy?” It turns out that the top two reasons are that the seller didn’t have access to the power buyer – the person who could really buy. Or, the seller and buyer didn’t jointly develop the vision of the solution – get the seller’s capabilities into the solution.

7.  Required Information from a Sales Call

Believe it or not, many sales people “wing-it.” They “sell” to a prospect without having planned the effort.  These sales people may not know anything about the prospects industry, their company or their competition. But, the biggest problem is that they don’t have a structured approach to the sales call. Now, that may not be a problem as long as the sales person walks away from the sales call with some important information. As long as the seller gets the following information the sales effort can lead to a new sale.

  • Buyer’s Business Need

  • Reasons for Buyer’s Need

  • Impact on Organization Caused by Need

  • Buyer’s View of a Solution to the Need

  • Solution Value to Buyer and Organization

  • How to Access Power Buyer(s)

  • What’s Next

8.  Buyer’s School

You are reading this sales information and you may even take a sales training class. I hope you don’t think your buyers aren’t doing the same. Your buyers are in fact attending buyer’s school. Some of the things they learn at buyer’s school include:

  • Be Aware of Seller’s Deadlines: You’ve probably heard the advice that you’ll get the best price if you shop for that new car at the end of the month.  At that time the sellers are trying to meet their monthly quota before month end and they are anxious to give good deals.

  • Never Buy From a Single Vendor: If you are not looking at multiple vendors, how can you know if you’re getting the best price and function? 

  • Assign Coaches to Each Vendor: Make every vendor think they are leading in the sales completion and the coaches control seller access to people and information.

  • Never Let Seller Know He’s Winning: This is to keep every vendor in the game competing for your business up until the end of the buy cycle.

  • Never Let Seller Know He’s Losing

  • Negotiate Price in Reverse Preference Order: Start negotiating with the worse solution on your list. Then you use this “best price” to negotiate with the next best solution. This will get the second to last vendor lower their price to compete.  Then take this price to negotiate with the next vendor and so on.  Using this method you will get the best price from the best vendor.

9.  Negotiation

If you don’t know where you are going when you start, how are you going to know when you get there? It’s important to build a negotiation plan for your interaction with the buyer.  Decide on three or four “stands” or positions you are willing to take.  This starts with the most optimistic view of what you want and ends with the least you will take. You must know that bottom line position before you begin negotiating. As part of the planning, get as much information as possible about the buyer, the situation, and competitive alternatives. The person with the most information has an advantage in the negotiation. Information equals power. As the seller negotiates he should not give without getting – Quid Pro Quo.  And, to do it right, the seller should take before he gives.  The words might be something like:

Seller: “If you could do this for me, I might be able to do something for you.”

Buyer: “That’s possible!”

Seller: “OK then.  If you can do this I can do that.”

You have heard this, but most sellers will just not do it.  Be willing to walk (out of the meeting) and do it at least once.  The buyer needs to know you are serious and this is the only way to show it. When it’s all said and done, the buyer must believe he’s getting the best price and function.

10.  Summary

  • Be a Buying Facilitator

  • Don’t Act or Sound Like a Salesperson

  • Be Sincere and Competent

  • Develop Need, Build Visions of Solution

  • Diagnose Before You Prescribe

  • Understand the Buyer’s Focus Over Time

  • Quid Pro Quo


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