13 days to end of Qtr. On deals that are edging to closure, you want them closed. You want them to move from Negotiations to Contracts to closure.
The ones in the negotiations are the interesting bunch. This is where the action happens. This is where you want the deal to jump the fence to cover for your quota.
This is where a sales rep’s heart flutters and her mind goes into flight or fight zone. Your body keeps the count of the days: 13 days.
Your brain responds to this by releasing the stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol which rouses your body for emergency action. Your heart is pounding fast, the muscles tighten, breath quickens and your senses become sharper.
You are in a high stress zone and this is a quarterly-recurring story.
So here’s a bunch of learnings from working with neat sales folks and from learnings published by others on how negotiating under pressure. I am not gonna focus on the usual pointers but keep it crisp and to the point of a takeaway. The last thing you want is to lose time when it is running out like quicksand right now.
Are you negotiating with the right person on the deal?
Every deal brings from the prospect’s side different people with different requirements from your product: an influencer, a decision-maker and an executive sponsor among others. In the negotiation stage, have you identified the person who wields the power to make or break the deal? The Decision-Maker? Have you found out who that one person on the other side of the table is that can veto the deal with no reasons given? The Executive Sponsor? If not, you already know what to do. If you already have, you have it going right.
What are you negotiating on?
Sales in most parlances feels like a transaction. And where a transaction involves, people suddenly find they are at the two ends of the spectrum: I sell. You buy. And any good sales pro will tell you this is now how a sale is made.
Most negotiations get stuck on monetary part. A $10,000 license is expensive to your prospect perhaps. But define “expensive”? Exactly where you don’t focus on $10K but what value does your product bring to the table. Give them a picture of “current” vs “post purchase” scenario. If you can’t induce FOMO on your product, it is most likely your prospect doesn’t see the value in your product/service.
Choice of words
Do not use the word “sale” or “selling” in your conversations. Realize both these are words from your point-of-view(POV). From the prospect’s POV, the same act is “buying”. You wanna be seen working from their side – brokering a neat deal “for them” from your company.
“John, we sell this product at nothing less than $15K per license but I worked with my boss to cut the deal at $10K only for you!”
“John, our customers typically buy this product at $15K per license but I am ensuring you won’t pay a penny more than $10K for automatic recording of all your prospect conversations with consent, without having to worry if the data is flowing back into your CRM, ensuring your Product Manager is notified everytime a keyword of his interest is uttered on every single call and so much more. In fact, now that I said it, am starting to wonder if I undersold this!😄”
The second one is so much better: conversation is from prospect’s point-of-view and the focus is on selling the value and making the sale amount feel smaller when put right next to what is being bought by the prospect.
Buffet of features vs what you want
Just like a job description most times is a wish-list of all things the company wants from a role, when buying a solution, the prospect is putting out a wish-list of all things they would like. And to that end, for them it becomes a feature count comparison.
“Hey! But your competitor BetaPhi also has the feature to live transcribe.”
Walk into a wedding and you will see a buffet counter full of variety of food. From the wedding organizer’s POV they are catering to everyone’s needs. They just put it out a wish-list of anything anyone could ask. But you won’t eat it all but pick what you would.
Likewise, educate your prospect if a feature you do not have is truly unnecessary to their requirement. It’s different from misleading or lying. You are basically trying to understand why pay for it if they don’t need it. And if your product does it all that they need, why not try educate?
Not everyone’s in the conversation to buy. Not everyone’s in a hurry. Walk away after all your efforts don’t translate. Pointless to undersell your product if you don’t see them seeing the value in what they are paying for or no strategic upsell/cross-sell opportunities.
Prospects understand it very well you have limited time to meet your quota at the end of the quarter/fiscal and they might use it to corner you and stall the process. Take the right call at the right time and sometimes walking away is time saved for a deal that really matters.
The below negotiation-behaviour matrix from PurchasingPractice is pretty neat. You want to be collaborating and both sides win.
Recurring Revenue is where the real-money is, retention is where the real money is and to that end only a strong customer relationship will ensure longterm deals. And as such collaboration turns out to be the bedrock of that relationship.