I suppose I should consider myself quite fortunate that my first sales manager was such a strong disciplinarian. By "strong" I mean he was a tough, uncompromising, unsympathetic, no-nonsense type of guy. Unfortunately he was also bigoted, racist, homophobic and chauvinistic. I hated him more than anyone I have ever hated before or since - and I am pretty certain he hated me too. Most of all he resented my privileged upbringing and my public school education - he called me "Silver Spoon" and he attempted to embarrass and belittle me at every possible opportunity, which only served to drive me on to succeed.
It was an intolerable situation, and inevitably one of us would become a casualty - suffice to say, it was never going to be me. The more he goaded me, the more successful I became, and the more successful I became, the more he hated me. I only had one ambition at that time, which was his job.
The reason that I share all this with you is because I actually learned two very valuable lessons from him: Firstly, I learnt how not to manage a sales team, and I was able to build an identity-kit of the type of manager I wanted to become, simply by reversing out all of his characteristics. Secondly, the only positive thing to come out of our short relationship - I learnt to defend margin.
For clarification, what I mean by defending margin, is to fight for every single percentage point of profit, and give absolutely nothing away without getting something in return.
Selling on price is simply a cop out. You must value your expertise, your products and your services, and price accordingly.
The definition of negotiation that I use: "To arrange forms of business by means of discussion, conference or meetings, to transact business, to bargain, to exchange security for cash."
You will note that It doesn't mention giving anything away for less than its real value!
So here are a few quick, but extremely valuable tips I learned all those years ago:
Aim high - you will achieve more. Salespeople who think big get big results, and never let your prospect lower your sights.
Don't give it away -good negotiators defend their price
Never give away concessions - nothing should be given away free, so trade
Always negotiate the variables - know your variables
Constantly erode the value of the prospect's concessions - reduce the buyer's perception
Be a miser - never say yes too quickly
Be alive to the danger of deadlines - deadlines weaken your position
Look at the "Big Picture" - always keep the whole deal in mind
Negotiate through deadlocks - patience is the key
Understand your weaknesses - negotiator know thyself!
Anyone can give business away. Selling merely on price means we do not need sales people!
Just because we might be selling in tough economic times, doesn't mean "dropping your pants" at every request to do so!
Let me leave you with a thought:
Do you know the total value of the products/services/solutions you have sold this year? Add just one per cent of profit/gross margin to every deal - it's a lot of $ that you have left on the table, isn't it? Or rather, given away!
And never, ever be frightened to walk away - with your dignity intact.