A Sales Negotiator’s Friend: “Just The Facts, M’am”

by drjim on March 17, 2009

Sales Negotiators Should Not Be Afraid Of Facts & Stats - They Are Just Here To Help!

Sales Negotiators Should Not Be Afraid Of Facts & Stats - They Are Just Here To Help!

So there you are, getting ready to fire up your side of a sales deal when all of a sudden you get hit with a volley of facts, averages, and statistics. You’re hit! Each one of those figures came with a sharp point that has embedded itself, perhaps fatally, into your arguments. Is there any way that you can survive?

Good news, the answer is yes. It turns out that these powerful negotiating weapons: facts, averages, and statistics are ALWAYS negotiable. We have trial lawyers to thank for showing us the way. The key here is not to argue with the numbers themselves, but rather dispute what lies behind the numbers.

Questions that a good salesperson will ask right off the bat after being attacked with numbers include:

  1. Who collected these numbers?
  2. What sources did they use to get the numbers?
  3. What techniques did they use to collect the numbers?
  4. Were there any assumptions used when collecting the numbers?
  5. Why were the numbers collected in the first place?
  6. What values were hidden behind the numbers?
  7. Were there any biases that might have influenced the collection?

A key point to always remember is that any facts, statistics, or averages are always based on things that have happened in the past. What you are in the process of trying to do is to negotiate a deal that will live in the future.

One final point is to not allow yourself to get too worried by statistics or averages. They are just ways of trying to be able to talk about large amounts of data. The most important thing to remember here is that by their very definition, statistics and averages really don’t apply to anyone including you.

Have you ever been trying to work a deal when the other side suddenly whipped out a bunch of numbers? What was your reaction? What did you do next? Did the numbers end up influencing how the deal came out? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Giuseppe Faenza March 18, 2009 at 2:45 am

Usually when a sales man use a large amount of numbers to sustain a thesis (which is “why are you buying less then last year?”, “you should buy more because…”, “did you move the share to another supplier?”) , I face the thing as follow: I’m well prepared because I have a controlling experience, so I know numbers can have different means, depends on the direction and the background you consider, numbers are always to be interpreted. So the weapon the sales man use is for me a letal weapon against himself 10 times ratio leverage!

Take care

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Dr. Jim Anderson March 19, 2009 at 7:31 am

Giuseppe: Very good point. Sales negotiation is all about having good discussions with your customer. If the customer presents you with lots of numbers, then all of a sudden you have more things to talk about with them! Thanks for your insights…!

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Ed Bodman August 26, 2009 at 11:56 pm

From a sales perspective, if we are negotiating with a analytical/thinker type personality we better have facts,statistics, etc. with us. For this type of negotiation “evidence defeats doubt” will help win the business. Sometimes taking a stack of “research” with you into a meeting will put the buyer at ease knowing you are of like thinking processes. Some times the binder stays in your briefcase

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Dr. Jim Anderson August 27, 2009 at 9:03 am

Ed: I agree with you 100%. Being prepared to have a facts & stats discussion and then having the wisdom to know when to have the discussion and when to skip it is the key to negotiating success!

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