This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 2 – The Right Skills: Negotiation

In 2006, I took on a long-term consulting project that included business development responsibilities. It was my job to locate manufacturing partners for an IP-driven startup company and to negotiate agreements for bringing the product from prototype to mass production.

Before that time, I never considered myself a negotiator as such, so I did what I normally do. I bought a bunch of books on the subject to see what I could learn.

There were plenty of books about negotiation. The main themes seemed to be as follows:

  • Know the interests of both your own company and those of your counterparts
  • Know your BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement, or “walkaway point”)
  • Work to make agreements that also satisfy the interests of your counterparts
  • Walk away at your BATNA.

There is a lot more to it than that, but mostly subtlety, style and culture. To the extent that salespeople get into negotiations, it is usually about one of two things: one is price, which is really more about objection-handling than negotiation, or it is about contract terms in a complex deal, in which case the four bullet points above cover the major areas that a salesperson should need to be concerned with.

What you want to look for in your business is this: If there will be complex contracts to negotiate, make sure that your prospective salesperson has done this before by asking for examples and looking for details. Ask for specific examples about how agreement was reached when both sides seemed at odds. The job of your salesperson in this case is to sit in between the prospect and whoever will approve the agreement for your company. Their role is to facilitate the deal. Ask them how they see their role and what kind of experiences they have in working with that role. If they have mediated a contract in the past, then you can rest assured they know their place. Like with the proposal, if the deal has been infused with value due to proper needs analysis, and the decision maker is at the table eager to solve a problem, then negotiations of all kinds go much more smoothly, especially if the salesperson realizes that a win means a contract that both sides agree to. When this is understood, and the rest is done properly, then negotiations are generally pretty easy from the sales perspective.

If your business is extremely negotiation-intensive, hire accordingly and support your salesperson as much as you can. It may be that you need a different set of skills in one person to get a contract on the table and another to get it signed.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David