Why Some Sales Negotiation Training Programs Work and Others Don't
Categories: Sales Negotiation
A defined negotiation strategy is a critical component to an organization’s success. If you’re seeing these challenges across your sales organization, it’s time to shift your sales team’s approach:
- Negotiations are often coming down to price, versus value.
- Loss of margins and leverage with experienced buyers.
- Reps are consistently unable to identify and manage customer tactics.
- Reps are consistently unable to counter aggressive competitor negotiation strategies.
- There’s difficulty around managing the complexity of internal negotiations, slowing down deal cycles.
- Green reps are working with very experienced buyers, causing slow time-to-productivity.
Ensure the sales negotiation strategy you implement actually corrects these challenges and drives numbers up.
There is no shortage of sales training organizations and sales consulting firms that offer negotiation training. As you start weaving through the sea of sameness, use these two critical factors to narrow your search to the best-of-the-best. These points will help you find a sales negotiation training approach that will truly work for your organization — and drive lasting improvements to your bottom line.
1. How is the Training Nuanced for Sales Negotiation?
You're not negotiating hostages or trying to buy a used car. You're trying to close large deals that preserve margin, grow value and enhance ongoing relationships. All negotiations aren’t the same. Selling complex B2B solutions requires a sales negotiation approach that is specific and customized to your industry, organization, and buyers.
Not understanding the true nature of a sales negotiation causes many to believe that any type of tactical negotiation training will help their sellers become more effective negotiators. Don’t fall into this trap.
Sales negotiation isn't just a tactical exchange between two people right before the deal is signed. That's far from reality for the majority of enterprise B2B sales, especially in the technical environment. An enterprise-level sales negotiation has many unique characteristics that require a sales-specific approach. Enterprise deals require more decision makers, which means more opinions and differing buying criteria and value drivers. Salespeople need the skills to navigate these conversations with multiple buyers in a way that focuses on a complete solution for the enterprise.
In addition, a salesperson must continue to manage the value of the current relationship and understand the significance of creating successful future outcomes and conversations. Sellers can try to negotiate through the moment, but if there is no strategy and process aligned to larger account interests, they won’t know where to go when the immediate tactical negotiation ends.
Ensure your sales training partner has experience in sales negotiation. If their negotiation experience isn’t related directly and exclusively to sales, we would caution you and encourage you to shift to a sales negotiation solution. Without a focus on sales, you won't produce the results you're looking to achieve.
Additional things to look for in a partner:
Look for a partner that can help you implement a value-based negotiation approach that’s tailored specifically to your organization and your buyers. Ensure they support you in providing your sales team with customized tools and processes to execute a value-based negotiation approach. See how Zendesk implemented a multi-solution negotiation approach and drove immediate results from their efforts.
2. How Does the Training Involve Non-Sales Professionals?
Most sales negotiations involve many members of the customer-facing team from multiple functions. You need those teams to be coordinated. Here are some examples of how these functions, seemingly unrelated to a customer negotiation, can influence what ends up in a closed deal:
- Consulting/Implementation: These teams are often charged with developing the Service Level Agreements (SLAs). To ensure a successful and efficient implementation, they will need the sales account team to negotiate on the implementation process, schedule and scope.
- Professional Services/Customer Success: To drive post-sales metrics up, the CS team needs to have a clear picture of what you’re agreeing to. They need to understand the positive business outcomes and measurements of success that are being agreed upon in the initial sale. As a result, they may help your sales team adjust their strategy so they can ensure long-term account success.
- Legal: Your legal team should understand your overall negotiating strategy and what you're trying to get in the final deal. This understanding helps them stay on the same page (business interests as well as legal interests). In addition, if your sales team knows legal is going to require specific components to be in every deal, they can communicate early on about those factors so there are no customer surprises or stalls.
Here’s a complete list of examples of how these functions can influence what ends up in a closed deal and the time it takes to close. A sales-only approach doesn’t take these critical areas into account, which often hinders sales ability to negotiate and can even cause late-stage stalls.
If you choose a partner or methodology that doesn’t capture alignment between these critical departments, you're missing out on an opportunity to dramatically improve your process. If account teams are not on the same page, an individual who doesn’t know the play could radically alter the entire negotiation strategy. Don’t let your internal process hinder sales negotiations and forecasts.
Remember, in sales negotiations, you're trying to also facilitate the ongoing relationship throughout the entire customer engagement process. Sales leaders can sometimes focus their negotiation training and coaching efforts on using tactics, without providing the necessary connection back to the overall post-sales customer engagement processes. Negotiation is not successful if you damage the customer relationship while you’re getting the deal/agreement done.
Additional things to look for in a partner:
Look for a partner who understands the power of driving organizational alignment around the sales negotiation strategy. Negotiation success demands a process, organizational alignment and clear direction on what a great deal looks like for your organization. It is too important to leave it to chance. Generating that alignment can be challenging on your own, it takes a concerted effort and often experience from someone who’s done it before. As a sales leader, you’re busy running the day-to-day activities you need to drive sales performance. You may not have the right amount of time to invest in building and operationalizing an aligned sales negotiation strategy. Choose a partner that can help you capture and leverage cross-functional alignment around an elite sales negotiation process. A partner that can provide you the unbiased approach you need to drive alignment amongst your company leaders, and operationalize a negotiation process that gets results.
What it Takes to Build an Elite Sales Negotiation Process
Before you move forward with your initiative, understand how successful companies implement a revenue-driving sales negotiation process. Use these resources to compare your vision against the best practices leaders have used to equip their teams to preserve margins and minimize discounting.