A Sales Negotiator’s Friend: The Telephone

by drjim on March 31, 2009

A Telephone Is A Two-Edged Blade For Sales Negotiators

A Telephone Is A Two-Edged Blade For Sales Negotiators

What’s your mental picture of a typical sales negotiation? When you close your eyes do you see a lushly carpeted board room with a large oval table in the center and padded leather chairs all around it? If so, then in most cases you are sadly mistaken.

An amazing number of sales negotiations occur over the telephone. Everyone has one and in fact in this day and age of mobile phones we all seem to have more than one phone. Given that by using the phone you can reach someone directly at almost any time, phones have become an important tool in negotiating sales.

However, as with any tool, a phone can be a danger to any negotiator’s hope of success. Using a phone to negotiate can be quick and easy, but that’s actually part of the problem. I’m not telling you to not use the phone, I’m just saying that you need to watch out when you do. Here are some of the things that can go wrong when you use the phone to negotiate a sale:

  1. Deal / No Deal: Because you can’t look the other side in the eye when you are negotiating with them on the phone, it’s entirely possible that you may conclude the call thinking that you have a deal when you really don’t.
  2. Can You Hear Me Now?: What you think that you are saying is not necessarily what the other side is hearing. However, since you are on a phone, there is no way for you to realize that they have gotten the wrong message.
  3. What Did You Say?: Often when we are negotiating on the phone, we are out and about. Although we may reach agreement, it won’t count until such time as we write it down. That may be hours later and what we write down may be different from what we agreed to.

Once again, the phone is a powerful sales negotiation tool; however, you have to be careful how you use it in order to make sure that you don’t get burned.

Have you ever used the phone as part of a sales negotiation? Did you have any communications problems? Were the problems on your side or on the other side? When did you first realize that there was a problem? How did you finally resolve this problem? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew Bradshaw, C.P.M. March 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Dr. Jim,

Just a reminder that technology has changed significantly today. When you refer to telephone methods you are referring to a provincial way of negotiating. Today, due to modern technology, we have teleconferences and webinars where we can communicate more effectively than in the past. I agree it is not the ideal situation, however, we don’t always have the time or the resources available to do a face to face negotiation. In your e-mail you talk about shuffling through paperwork which is a problem. Unfortunately, many negotiators are not very well prepared for the negotiation in the first place. I am referring to your e-mail: You Can’t Negotiate What You Can’t See.

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drjim March 23, 2016 at 9:15 am

Matthew: you bring up a number of very good points. As negotiators we have the responsibility of making sure that we’re always ready for a negotiation when it happens. The only exception to this rule might be those times that you get a call out of the blue and the person on the other end wants to negotiate with you right then and there!

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