In some of my recent articles I have discussed the merits surrounding getting salespeople to hold off on producing proposals until the prospect is fully qualified. I have observed that many salespeople produce proposals because they are not skilled negotiators and they somehow think that if they put the information in writing the prospect will buy. The truth is that the proposal should really be a confirmation of what has already been agreed to, or has been determined that the prospect wants, needs and is interested in buying. Unfortunately, salespeople frequently rush in before these factors are understood.
The skilled negotiator is really a skilled communicator. Unfortunately, many salespeople are uncomfortable relying on their sales communication skills so they hide behind proposals, quotes and bids. Rather than thoroughly exploring and discussing the potential disagreeable components of a proposal with a client or prospect, frequently, salespeople will rush to produce a proposal in the hopes that once the price, or the terms are written, the prospect will somehow agree to the terms, and the salesperson will avoid any uncomfortable conversations, or will be able to hide behind the fact that the information is in writing.
If you have salespeople producing proposals because they are avoiding sales negotiations, then coach them up on important communication and negotiation skills. There are numerous books and information available including the book “Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”, by Roger Fisher, William Ulry and Bruce Patton, and “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. There are also articles available created by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University.
The key takeaway from all these resources is that the successful negotiator is well equipped to connect with the counterparty, while controlling their emotions. Successful negotiators put their deep communication skills to work. They are able to bond with their counterparty and get the counterparty to reveal their real interests so that they can work together to determine if your company has an appropriate solution. Most salespeople just accept the stated position that the prospect or customer has articulated, rather than understanding the true underlying interests. For instance, help your salespeople learn how to determine the personal impact to their decision maker of accepting your terms and conditions or not. Frequently it is not their stated position.
Help your folks develop deep communicating, bonding and rapport building skills first, then set them on the path to fully develop their negotiating skills and help them to stop wasting time hiding behind proposals that are not fully qualified and negotiated and watch their confidence rise and ultimately their sales success.
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