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Getting Creative to Improve Sales Negotiations

Since we first started highlighting the massive negotiation skills gap that exists between buyers and sellers, we’ve had a number of inquiries through the Help Desk about how to proceed. Understandably, starting off by trying to convince sales management to add a whole new training program across the board seems a bit daunting for many Sales Ops groups. So here’s what we’ve been recommending:

Get started with your own team.

Specifically, identify the people on your Sales Ops team who are involved in deal-making. You’re looking for those who interact with salespeople (or customers) on individual deals as they are being worked and negotiated. These might be analysts and approvers on the exception flow, people who help put together RFQ responses, and definitely the people behind your Bid Desk.

Then, run these people through a negotiation training program—ideally, the same training program you’d like the sales team to adopt more broadly.

Here’s how it plays out…

As your people become more knowledgeable about negotiation strategies and tactics, they’ll start pushing back on some of the things they notice in their day-to-day interactions.

They’ll start asking some very smart questions. They’ll start calling out the tactics and tricks that buyers are trying to employ. And, they’ll start offering up some great suggestions for how to respond and counter more effectively.

To lend more credibility to their observations and recommendations, your people will…of course…reference the negotiation training they’ve been receiving. They’ll explain to the salespeople they’re working with how they’ve come to know all of this great stuff through the negotiation training program you secured for them.

Some of these salespeople will then begin to wonder why they weren’t given the opportunity to receive negotiation training. They’ll start asking why they were left out. After all, this kind of training is even more relevant to them, right? So why have they been deprived in this way? Why have they been overlooked?

To which, you’ll just have to say, “Why indeed?!! What an oversight! Let’s talk to the management team and get this corrected, pronto!”

Starting by training your own team will help in at least three ways:

  1. First of all, you’re going to produce performance improvements as a result of having your trained negotiators involved in many of the bigger deals.
  2. Having gone through the training program yourselves, you’re in a much better position to sell the idea to others in your sales organization.
  3. Through day-to-day exposure to the training benefits, you’re likely to initiate some level of “pull” or demand from the salespeople themselves.

The point here is that there are multiple ways to effectively address the negotiation skills gap in Sales. If you can tackle it head-on and get sales management to add negotiation training to the overall mix, fantastic! But if that’s too challenging for whatever reason, don’t just throw up your hands—it’s too important to let go.

Instead, get creative and come at it a different way.

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