By David Bauders
A personal point of view of mine is that buyers (including procurement professionals) are more likely than sellers to have received professional negotiation training. This point was substantiated when I asked the audience at the conference how many had received one day of professional negotiation training in the past year — and no one raised a hand!
You might be surprised to hear that, but it’s true. And it means sellers are often at a significant disadvantage in determining terms of trade even before they engage buyers.
This scenario is fueled by the notion that sellers, by nature, are good, profitable negotiators. One thing I’ve learned is that just isn’t the case. Negotiation skills, like other core skills, need to be developed, refined, and retained through a focused training program.
You don’t need to think hard to come up with the direct benefits of negotiation training for sales professionals. When you learn how to negotiate, your profit margins increase – and that means bigger paychecks.
But there are other career-boosting benefits, too. Here are three less obvious ways sellers benefit from negotiation training.
#1: Negotiation training makes you a more strategic seller.
In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey introduced the concept of beginning with the end in mind. According to Covey, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
When you become a trained negotiator, only then can you have a clear understanding of your destination. Sure, it’s easy to say, “The end is actually closing the deal, right?” And that’s true, but what good is a closed deal if it’s barely profitable? And how long are you going to keep that customer if you didn’t strategically de-commoditize yourself during the sales process? The moment another seller beats your price, you’re toast (which, as many companies discover, can actually be a good thing when the deal was weak in the first place).
Negotiation training makes it natural for sales professionals to think two steps ahead. Rather than fearing an unknown world of future objections and concession requests, you actually embrace them because you’ve planned for them and you know exactly how to respond.
The world’s best sellers begin with the end in mind. When you gain confidence in your ability to withstand pressure and close win-win deals, you can, too.
#2. Buyers enjoy working with you.
At its essence, sales negotiation training teaches you how to get to the heart of what buyers care about so you can strategically increase their satisfaction with the end result. Now here’s a fact about buyers: They want sellers to get to the heart of what they care about and they want to be satisfied with the end result.
Since negotiation training is typically the “last hurdle” for most sellers, mastering it naturally leads to a more thoughtful, more deliberate approach that professional buyers appreciate – pros want to work with pros.
When professional buyers enjoy working with you, not only does your win percentage shoot upward, but deals race through the pipeline faster, which frees up time to close more deals.
#3: Your reputation begins to precede you.
Closing deals and exceeding quota gets your immediate supervisor to notice you. Closing high-margin deals gets the C-Suite to notice you.
Think about it: The CEO’s ultimate goal is profitability. So, when someone finds a way to sell the exact same thing everyone else is working to sell – at a higher profit than everyone else – the CEO will want to know how you did it.
Closing profitable, high-margin deals is how sales pros become sales managers. It’s how managers become directors. It’s how directors become VPs.
David Bauders founded SPA (Strategic Pricing Associates, Inc.) in 1993 – and its subsidiary, SPASIGMA, in 2015. SPA is the world’s first company to provide an integrated, holistic, profit-driving solution that integrates decision-support analytics and entertaining, high-performance virtual training. SPA helps market leaders’ teams drive greater financial performance by providing the skills training and analytical tools to master the critical daily decisions that drive profitability and enterprise value: negotiation (sell-side and buy-side), profitability acumen, and emotional intelligence. SPA’s holistic approach helps clients sustainably create and capture higher economic value. SPA’s typical client experiences increased profits equal to 2-4 percent of affected sales in less than 90 days. Mr. Bauders and SPA have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inside Business, TED, CIO Review, and more. Follow him on LinkedIn, where he regularly publishes posts related to training, negotiation, personality, and analytics.