I was recently involved in a negotiation on behalf of the holder of intellectual property and a small (relative to industry average) potential contract manufacturing partner.

After only a very short set of preliminary meetings, the contract manufacturer sent us an unsolicited, highly detailed proposal for a partnership. This was the smallest mistake they made, and it was no small mistake. As a note on this point alone, a professional salesperson (or negotiator) should certainly work to learn as much as possible about the needs of all parties and the feasibility of various solutions before formally proposing a solution.

But it got worse.

During the course of the preliminary meetings, our side made it clear that we would require the sourcing of a highly complicated, capital intensive and critical component of our product from a well-known and well-respected component manufacturer. The component manufacturer that we specified was considered one of the best in the world, and was used (with positive results) by almost every major manufacturer in our field.

In the proposal from our prospective contract manufacturing partner, it was suggested that this industry leading, highly acclaimed component manufacturer was grossly overcharging us, and that the small contract manufacturer should also produce the (very complicated, very expensive) machines that make the specialized component – an extremely ambitions suggestion. They further suggested that they could make the machines for less than half the cost of the world famous component manufacturer, with twice the capacity, and in less time.

It sounded too good to be true, and that is just how we interpreted it. This unrealistically ambitious suggestion came at a time when we had just begun exploring our relationship, and well before we had explored many of the much more basic issues related to our potential partnership.

This did not bode well for our perceptions of this prospective contract manufacturing partner!

As a general proposition, it is important to show prospective partners that we are competent and capable potential business partners for them. However, making unrealistic claims early in the process is not the way to do it. Especially if this happens before needs are fully understood, and true capabilities are established. The situation is made even worse if these claims are packaged in the context of an obvious attempt to undermine an existing relationship, and even worse than that when attacking the existing relationship is not necessary. In all of these cases, it just appears desperate (and probably is).

This kind of poor execution usually just winds up hurting the efforts of the needless aggressor. Attacking the competition rather than working to learn what problems exist that can be solved together is not the correct behavior of a professional salesperson, and certainly not the most productive.

A small child may be able to brag to his friends that his fathers new car can go 1000 miles per hour, but when you make a similar gesture to your prospective client in hopes of having them reconsider a more realistic offer from one of your competitors, you are hurting yourself far more than you are helping your efforts to secure the business.

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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