How to Produce Good Negotiators in Your Sales Force, #1: Hire the Right People


This is the first of a 4-part series of blogs addressing negotiating ability in the sales arena.  

As someone who spends a great deal of my time observing, studying, and teaching professional salespeople how to negotiate higher profits, I can pass on without reservation certain truisms:

  • Most salespeople want to do a better job of negotiating - they want to make a significant contribution to the bottom line of their organization.
  • Very few do.
  • Most sales managers would love to have their sales team negotiate well. They understand the difference between selling and negotiating, and understand that sales skills produce gross revenues, but that negotiating skills produce profit.
  • Very few understand how to bring this about.

After several years of observing many sales forces negotiate poorly, and a significantly small number negotiate well, some simple, but profound components have emerged as to what must take place for a sales force to negotiate well in today’s market. 
If salespeople are to negotiate more effectively, four areas must be addressed. The areas are simple - easy to understand, yet difficult to execute. Any breakdown in the four or failure to incorporate any one of the four will result in poor performance as negotiators - and decreased profit.
#1. Hire the right people!
As simple as it sounds, most salespeople are hired for the wrong reasons - that is, if you want good negotiators. Most companies hire to bring people on board who can “sell.” On the surface this looks and sounds good, but it leads to companies hiring what I call “pleasers.”
The pleaser's main attribute is the ability to build relationships. It's their greatest strength and their greatest weakness. This style lends itself to situations in which a person will do whatever it takes to satisfy customer needs or extend good will. The pleaser is especially adept at preserving harmony and avoiding disruption in business situations.
The drawback, however, is that they can allow themselves to be abused. It's hard for classic pleasers to exert themselves in head-to-head negotiating situations, and as a result, they are often guilty of leaving company profits "on the table."
Every sales force has a number of Joe Pleasers. Joe has been with the company for several years, and has a solid client base. His customers love him, because he's great at solving problems and cultivating relationships. His repeat business is good, but when his accounts are analyzed, the profit margin is below where it should be. In closing situations, Joe gives up more than he needs to. The problem is compounded by the fact that he is often doing business with decision-makers that are very competitive.   Joe doesn't understand the Golden Rule of Sales Negotiation: Sales ability determines your gross receipts, but negotiating ability determines your profit.
So, that’s a good place to start: Hire the right people! An experienced sales manager told me once: “If you hire the wrong person - nothing you can do will save them. If you hire the right one - nothing you do can mess them up.

So this week, spend some time this week observing your sales people.  Observe their basic natures. For more on this, please visit:  Blog Post: What You Can Learn at the Dog Park.  

Next weeks blog will address area #2: Train Salespeople Well.  

l save them. If you hire the right one - nothing you do can mess them up.