Archive for the 'Sales - Sales Management' Category

Successful negotiators are patient — don’t fall in love

Negotiating is a process of communication between two or more parties to reach an agreement on future behavior-like when you’re purchasing a small business, leasing an office, hiring an employee, selling a product, or trying to get a two-year-old to take one more bite of peas.

Let’s look at the two key words in that definition: process and communication.

Process : Conducting a negotiation is more like running a marathon than a sprint-it takes time and involves multiple steps. By accepting this reality you’ll set yourself up to be more patient and, therefore, more effective.

Remember, your impatience with the process is the other party’s best leverage. Good negotiators practice patience.

Communication: There are many ways to communicate in a negotiation besides speaking: Punctuality, appearance, organization, and attention to detail, for example, are all forms of communication.  You could even communicate in absentia with the quality of the documents you produce.

Never underestimate the heightened awareness of every aspect of a negotiation.  The slightest nuance, gesture, or facial expression can mean something.

Make sure all communications contribute to your negotiating objectives.

There are three critical questions to ask yourself before any negotiation.

1.  What do I want?
Make sure you have this conversation with yourself. If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when to stand firm and when to give something away?

And if the other party senses you’re not focused, they will either disengage or view you as weak prey and take advantage. Either way, you lose.

2.  Why should the other party negotiate with me?
If a genie grants you one wish prior to a negotiation, ask what motivates the other party.  Armed with that perspective you can get the other information you’ll need in due time.

3.  What are my options?
The best way to get what you want in any negotiation is if you don’t have to do the deal.  Having an alternative to what’s on the table strengthens your ability to walk away from a deal that isn’t moving in your favor.  It doesn’t have to be perfect-just an alternative. Sometime during the negotiation, your second choice might start looking pretty good.  And merely knowing you’re in a position to walk away will make you a better negotiator.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t fall in love with any deal unless you want to make the other party’s day. Love is for lovers-this is business.

Write this on a rock… Everything’s negotiable. Are you a capable negotiator?

Are You Hidebound Or Visionary?

In this week's video I talk about being a Hidebound or Visionary seller. Which one are you and what are the consequences?

SBA Poll Results: What is your greatest challenge?

The Question
What is your greatest challenge right now for your business?

58% - It’s simple: we need more sales.

8% - We’re growing but can’t find qualified people to hire.

24% - High taxes and onerous regulations.

8% - Obamacare has really complicated our benefits strategy.

3% - We need a business loan from a bank.

My Comments:
As you can see, the usual suspects showed up as the top challenges of small businesses. I’m going to have more to say about all of these responses in my Feature Article next week, as I break down the meaning of each one. Stay tuned and thanks for participating.

What kind of seller are you? Hidebound or Visionary?

Since 1993, control of the three major elements of your customer relationships—product, information, and buying decision—has been shifting from business to customer. As you may remember, I’ve identified this shift as a marketplace transition from the original age to the new one—the 10,000 year-old Age of the Seller is being replaced by what I call The Age of the Customer®.

As this shift plays out, two types of businesses—Hidebound Sellers and Visionary Sellers—currently exist in parallel universes, but not for long. Which one are you?

Hidebound Sellers

These companies are so invested and entrenched in the old order of control that they deny the reality in front of them. They can be identified by the following markers:

Misplaced frustration: As performance goals get harder to accomplish, frustration makes those who deny the new realities think their pain is caused by a failure to execute.

Bad strategies: It is said that armies prepare for the next war by training for the last one. So it is with Hidebound Sellers. Not only do Age of the Customer influences make them think they’re being attacked, but they persist in using Age of the Seller countermeasures.

Destructive pressure: Convinced of execution failure, pressure brought to bear by management results in an employee casualty list instead of a growing customer list.

Equity erosion: Defiance in the face of overwhelming evidence sustains the deniers only until they run out of Customers with old expectations, and their equity and access to credit are depleted.

Visionary Sellers

These businesses are adjusting their plans to conform to the new reality of more control by customers. Visionary Sellers are identified by these markers:

Acceptance: They accept that the customer is now in control and make relevance adjustments to this reality.

Modern sales force: They hire and train their sales force to serve increasingly informed and empowered customers.

Technology adoption: They offer technology options that allow customers to find, connect, and do business using their preferences.

Relevance over competitiveness: They recognize that while being competitive is still important, today it’s just table stakes, and is being replaced in customer priority by the new coin of the realm: relevance.

In The Age of the Customer, Hidebound Sellers are dinosaurs waiting for extinction. Visionary Sellers are finding success by orienting operations and strategies around a more informed and empowered customer.

So what’s the verdict? Are you Hidebound or Visionary?


Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

There is no handshake in “the cloud”

“In the clouds” is an aviation term pilots use to describe flight conditions. Or you might have heard this term in a parent’s lament about where their teenager’s head is. Recently, it has found a place in the marketplace vernacular.

“Cloud computing” is the availability of incremental processing power that resides on an application provider’s servers, instead of your hard drive. For example, community-building technology resides “in the cloud,” like the social media platforms that have taken popular culture and the marketplace by storm—no pun intended.

But while cloud computing is another example of technology increasing business efficiencies and leverage, like all other high-tech tools, it still has not replicated one of the most elemental components of humanity—the handshake. There is no handshake in the cloud.

Successful businesses have learned how to profit from the speed and efficiencies of e-tools, including cloud computing. And those who initially discounted the notion of successful virtual relationships over the World Wide Web have been proven wrong. By now, most of us have met a prospect, delivered a proposal, closed a deal, delivered as promised, and maintained that relationship—perhaps for years—using nothing more than the virtual connection resources at our fingertips. But sometimes, there just is no substitute for face-to-face. Consider this story:

After a successful four-year relationship between a small business and a Fortune 100 business where all contact had been virtual, the small business owner wanted to deliver a proposal with a new idea for their relationship. The customer said, “Sure, I’ll take a look; just email it like the last one.”

But having never met the customer in-person, plus knowing the importance of this proposal to his business this entrepreneur asked for a meeting. “If you think it’s worth your time and expense, sure,” the customer agreed. The meeting was set, conducted, and the new sale was made, after which the customer said “I’m glad you came to see me. I probably wouldn’t have made this commitment without your presentation.”

This story is true—that was my customer and my sale.

As you leverage and profit from all of the efficient high-tech customer connection tools at the speed of light, don’t forget that the best choice might not always be found in the cloud. In the Age of the Customer it’s still a best practice to invest the time and resources to meet customers face-to-face, shake their hand, look them in the eye, ask them for their business, and especially to thank them.

There is no handshake in the cloud.

Be sure to check out my latest segment from The Small Business Advocate Show below. I talk about how to balance using the power and productivity of cloud computing with getting in face-to-face with customers when the time is right.

Why there is no handshake in “the cloud”

SBA Poll Results: 2013 Sales

The Question:

How did 2013 treat your business with regard to sales?

16% - We had a great year in sales.

32% - We had a pretty good year, but not great.

36% - Our business did not grow at all this year.

16% - It still feels like a recession-we’re just holding on.

My Comments:
Our poll last week came approximately 54 months after the end of the Great Recession. As you can see, almost half a decade into a recovery less than one-in-six American small businesses “Had a great year,” and less than half experienced any sales growth. While more than half are experiencing poor performance.

There are a number of reasons for this sad economic condition, which I will talk about in a Feature Article in two weeks. Thanks for participating and stay tuned.


Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

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