Deadly Sins Of Sales Negotiations: Hope And 3 Others

by drjim on July 14, 2009

When Playing The Sales Negotiation Game, You Can't Just Hope To Win<br><a href=

We all hear so much about the smooth Donald Trumps of the world that we can fall in to the belief that everyone shows up for a sales negotiation better prepared than we are. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are four common sales negotiation mistakes that even really smart people make all the time. Are you making any of them?

The 4 Deadly Sins Of Sales Negotiations

It turns out that the reason that so many sales negotiations turn out poorly for negotiators is because they enter into the negotiations with the wrong state of mind. Instead of preparing for the negotiation, they go in with a “let’s hope for the best” type of mindset. How can they possibly hope to do well?

Sales negotiators who have this type of mind set more often than not don’t do well during a negotiation. They fall prey to the four deadly sins of sales negotiations:

  1. No plan
  2. Bad agreements
  3. Poor reading skills
  4. No follow up

Your Plan Is That You Have No Plan!

While I worked for Siemens, there was a large French-Canadian director who would occasionally explode in strategy meetings and shout at people that “Your Plan Is That You Have No Plan!” In a sales negotiation, this is often the case when people enter into the negotiation without a plan.

Instead of a plan, they have hope. Hope that things will go well. That they won’t make too many mistakes. That the other side will make mistakes. A sales negotiation is a journey, not a destination. You need to have a plan (concessions, demands, questions, schedules, etc.) for how you are going to get to where you want to go.

Agreement Without Clarity

During everyday conversations with friends and coworkers, we all have a tendency to agree to things that we may not have a full understanding of. This is a polite way of keeping the conversation going even when we may not fully grasp what they are saying – we figure that we can pick it up later on.

This same type of behavior during a sales negotiation can be disastrous. If you don’t take the time to fully understand what you are agreeing to, you may find yourself quickly in a bad situation. Call for a break, take a time out, or ask the other side of the table to better explain something before you agree to it.

Doing A Poor Job Of Reading

Looking the other side in the eye and signing a contract with a big flourish sure can make a strong impression – that you don’t have any idea what you are really signing. I learned a long time ago that he who takes the notes, ultimately controls how a meeting turns out. The same goes for sales negotiations – it really doesn’t matter what you THINK you’ve agreed to, it’s the words that make it onto the paper that really matter. Take the time to read them!

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!

It’s too easy to think that a sales negotiation is over and done with once the last paper has been signed and the handshakes have been exchanged. However, both sides of the table have a responsibility to follow up and make sure that the agreement is being executed by both sides. Not only is this a critical part of doing business, it can have a big impact on any future negotiations between the two sides.

Final Thoughts

A long time ago I took a scuba diving class. One of the key lessons that they taught in that class was the simple phrase “Plan your dive, dive your plan.” The same thing can be said about sales negotiations: you need to have a plan and you need to follow it if you want to have any chance of being successful.

We now know what can happen if you don’t have a plan: you’ll end up skipping ove important steps like agreeing to things that aren’t clear, not reading things that you are signing, and not following up after the deal is done. Remembering to plan your negotiations ahead of time and avoiding the 4 deadly sins of sales negotiations will allow you to close better deals and close them quicker.

Questions For You

Have you ever gone into a sales negotiation without having a good plan? Did you end up agreeing to things that perhaps you didn’t fully understand because you didn’t know what you were looking for? Did you fully read the contract before you signed it? Did you remember to follow up to make sure that the contract was being followed after it was signed? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

My daughter is currently learning about how to add fractions in school. The trick to doing this right is that you have to make sure that the denominator (the number on the bottom of the fraction) is the same for both numbers before you add them. She’s struggling with this concept and it reminds me of a key sales negotiating point – never try to do a deal using funny money.

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