The 4 Golden Rules of a Successful Procurement Negotiation

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When the business stakeholder tells you, “We like your solution and will send the proposal to Procurement,” what’s your reaction?

If you think, “Great, my job is done,” you’re committing a significant mistake. Procurement is often a black hole for deals.

Your contract usually goes to the bottom of their pile, where it sits … and sits … and sits, while you get frustrated and are forced to push out the expected close date.

Time is never your friend in sales: While your winning proposal sits in Procurement, a competitor could come in and take the order, the customer’s company might be acquired, your sponsor could get fired or quit, or other priorities could pop up that steal your funding.

Ultimately, your hard work goes to waste because you moved on before the deal was truly won.

Successful salespeople treat procurement negotiations like another stage in the sales process. To make it through the black hole with your deal intact, follow these guidelines.

1) Remember Procurement’s Objectives

Working with Procurement often feels adversarial. Not only are they expert negotiators, they’re trained to drive down costs and get discounts.

However, it is possible to partner with — rather than battle — Procurement. To build a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship, reps must treat them as a key stakeholder in the opportunity.

Think about Procurement’s goals and how you can help them accomplish those, just like you’d do with a traditional stakeholder.

Yes, getting the best possible price is a major objective. But Procurement also works to mitigate risk, make sure suppliers are operating ethically and professionally, screen out suppliers who aren’t fiscally stable, and project a return on strategic investments.

Build those goals into your pursuit plan. For instance, if the prospect’s company has had several issues with unethical suppliers, you should highlight your organization’s perfect track record in that area. Discuss how your company’s values align with the customer’s values. Demonstrate why you’re a good partner to work with for the long term.

Wondering how to figure out Procurement’s priorities in the first place? That leads me to my second suggestion.

2) Ask for a Meeting

Don’t wait until the proposal is finalized to speak with Procurement. Request a meeting with them relatively early on. You might ask the business stakeholder, “We’d like to learn more about Procurement’s evaluation criteria. Can you help set up a meeting with them?”

If you have a good relationship with your point-of-contact, it’s a good idea to include them in this meeting as well.

Use these following questions to determine Procurement’s role and priorities:

  • “What do you look for in a partner?” (Or if you work with them already, “What can we do to be a better partner?”)
  • “Do you have a standard operating agreement for suppliers? Can we review it?”
  • “What materials and information do you need from us to finalize the contract?”
  • “Which steps need to happen next, and what is the approximate timeline for approval?”

If you’re unable to get a meeting with Procurement, ask your contact to outline the steps and approximate timelines necessary to get an agreement approved. Document this in an email and send it to all parties involved.

3) Prepare Your Materials in Advance

Once you know what Procurement needs before they can finalize the contract, start preparing those items. They might need to check your organization’s insurance, speak with customer references, run background checks on your employees, perform due diligence, build a business case, and/or run your proposal through an ROI calculator.

Salespeople usually discover what Procurement needs when they get an urgent request. Not only does getting approval take a lot longer than it could, you can’t accurately forecast when the deal will close. Don’t leave these items up to chance or be at the mercy of Procurement to drive the process. Take control of the deal here just like you did during the initial sales conversations.

Think it’s risky to prepare materials before you know if they’ll be necessary? Think again. Failing to take control of this process is far riskier.

In addition, you’re likelier to win the business if you prepare. Having everything Procurement needs sets you apart from the other vendors — not only does it prove you’re invested in the deal, it also foreshadows how they’ll be treated as your customer.

Being proactive and professional tells prospects you’d be a fantastic supplier.

4) Instill Urgency (Again)

The decision maker clearly understands why having this solution is important now, rather than later. They want to start receiving the benefits of your solution as soon as possible. Yet Procurement often isn’t on the same page.

If you want them to prioritize your deal, make sure they’re aware of the decision maker’s timeline and expectations.

For instance, suppose you’ve established the decision maker needs the product by the beginning of next quarter. You might tell Procurement, “We need to kick off the project by [date and time] so [stakeholders, team, department, company] can hit [X goal]. To do that, we’ll need to finalize the contract by [Z date}. Is there anything that might prevent us from hitting that date?

You should also lay out the cost of waiting. If they know your solution will save them lots of money, they’re less likely to delay.

Many salespeople go on cruise control as soon as their main sponsor gives them the green-light. But don’t take your eyes off the road yet — if you want that commission check, take control of the Procurement approval process and don’t leave anything open to chance.

HubSpot Free Sales Training


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

10 Sales Closing Mistakes That’ll Stop a Deal in Its Tracks

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Discovery and qualification are more important than a hard close in modern sales, but that doesn’t mean you no longer have to ask for the business.

The information you learned from your prospect at the start of the sales process only gets you 95% of the way to a deal. That last 5% — negotiation, pricing discussions, and the close — can feel more pressure-filled and stressful than everything that came before it.

For more advice on closing, check out The GSD Show — tips for salespeople, by salespeople.

That’s especially true if you’re making any of the closing mistakes below, which will unnecessarily prolong your sales cycle at best, and derail the deal completely at worst.

10 Sales Closing Mistakes to Stop Making Right Now

1) Not closing at every step of the sales process

When I wrote in the introduction of this piece that closing comprises the last 5% of a sales cycle, it was a slight overgeneralization. While formal closing and negotiations don’t happen until the end of a sales cycle, the best salespeople build in small closes right from the start.

That’s because a polite or indecisive prospect can easily be strung through an entire sales process by an overzealous salesperson who equates their prospect’s lack of objection as buy-in, not hesitation. Qualification goes both ways — you should make it a priority that as you’re determining whether your buyer is a good fit, you’re also looking for signs that they want to move forward.

At the end of every call or conversation, set a clear next step and ensure your prospect is committed to it. If they seem to be waffling or unsure, don’t be afraid to flat-out ask what’s holding them back. If they’re going to walk away from the deal anyway, it’s better to find out sooner, not later.

2) Failing to ask for the business

If you’ve done your job and have gotten a series of small commitments from your prospect, it can seem like the final deal is inevitable. Building this foundation is important, but it doesn’t guarantee a signed and sealed deal on your desk or in your inbox.

Prospects, especially if they’re first-time buyers, won’t know when a deal has come to an end. Your job is to guide them through the process, and that means clearly indicating what steps you’ll take and what steps your prospects need to take. Unless you signal that the discovery, presentation, and recommendations portion of the sales process are over, your prospect won’t necessarily know it’s time to make a final decision.

Asking the question directly — “Are you ready to buy today?” — can also be the jolt a lagging deal needs to bring it back to life or get it out of your pipeline entirely. A prospect who’s trying to avoid or ghost on you is a loose end, and asking a direct question that they can’t get out of answering is a good way to tie it up.

3) Not creating a sense of urgency

Purchasing decisions are driven by two things: Need and timing. If a need is great but other priorities are more important, your deal will get pushed. If a need is great but the prospect doesn’t understand why they need to address it right now, your deal will also get pushed.

Identifying pain isn’t enough to close a deal. You have to create the right timing as well, and that means creating a sense of urgency. Explaining to your prospect not only why they should act but why they should also act now is the only way to close a deal.

4) Not knowing the prospect’s decision criteria

Asking for the business is a way to signal to prospects that the end of the sales process has arrived. Of course, you also need to be aware when it’s time to ask for it. Asking too soon makes the prospect feel rushed, while asking too late will make the deal last longer than it has to.

At the beginning of every sales process, make sure you find out what specific criteria the decision maker needs to make a purchase. Do they need the vendor to follow a certain review or legal process? Do they need a specific set of features or a specific business case to be built? Find out these criteria and fulfill them methodically so a natural endpoint becomes obvious.

5) Not understanding the prospect’s purchasing process

Understanding the purchasing process is a similar, but slightly different requirement than #4. Some companies require a legal review or formal procurement process to get a deal done. Others are required to evaluate a certain number of vendors. Still others will have specific requirements for payment terms or types.

Know this process before formal negotiations start, so that you won’t get through the entire closing sequence only to have to go through a weeks-long review process before the deal can be signed.

6) Closing before everyone is at the table

Negotiating with the wrong people is a waste of time. They won’t be able to tell you whether a decision can be made or what it will be. Bring in all necessary stakeholders and have them up to speed on the your progress thus far before you start talking about pricing and terms.

7) Using underhanded closing tricks

You should have run a straightforward and honest sales process up to this point, so why stop now?

Too many salespeople fall back on tricks and techniques designed to persuade their prospect into closing before they’re necessarily ready to. The problem with those tricks is that they’re completely transparent, put unnecessary pressure on buyers, and don’t even work that well.

Keep your behavior above water throughout the entire sales process, unless you want to leave your buyer with a bad taste in their mouth at the eleventh hour.

8) Closing too early

Just as you wouldn’t pitch your product (we hope) on the first call, you shouldn’t try to close when you’re only halfway through discovery. The sales cycle can and should be sped up if it’s possible to do so without cutting corners, but oftentimes you’ll need to follow each step and work on the buyer’s timeline to get a deal signed. Trying to force a sale over the finish line when you’ve only completed a few of these steps will prematurely end a deal that you could have eventually won.

9) Not understanding their bottom line

Making a sale isn’t the end-all, be-all. The deal has to be mutually beneficial to both parties, and that means not compromising on price or payment terms to a point where you’re harming your company. Be accommodating where you can and help your buyer out if they’re genuinely willing to commit to a purchase, but don’t agree to terms that are so far from your company’s bottom line that you’d be better off walking away.

10) Talking too much

At the negotiation table, silence is your best friend. Salespeople routinely talk themselves out of a deal: Their prospect is fully bought-in and ready to discuss specific terms, but the rep gets so excited that they keep going … and going … and going … They accidentally introduce doubt into the buyer’s mind. Poof. That’s the sound of money disappearing.

If you tend to be a chatty closer, remember this: No one ever listened their way out of a deal. Every time you finish introducing a new term, responding to a question, offering a concession, or most importantly, stating your price, you should shut up. And when your prospect says, Sounds great, I think we’re ready to move forward, wrap up the conversation and end the meeting.

What other closing mistakes should salespeople avoid? Let us know in the comments below.

The GSD Show

Source: 10 Sales Closing Mistakes That’ll Stop a Deal in Its Tracks
blog.hubspot.com/sales

9 Habits of Highly Effective Closers

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If you asked most people what activity they associated most with sales, I’d guess that many of them would respond the same way: Closing.

And it’d be no surprise. For one thing, it’s the most visible part of the sales process — all of us have been closed at one time or another, whether we’re buying a new vacuum cleaner or a new Learjet. For another, there’s nothing sexy about prospecting or discovery calls. But movies like Boiler Room, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Glengarry Glen Ross have (unfortunately) glorified aggressive, hard-closing salespeople as rainmakers.

For more advice on closing, check out The GSD Show — tips for salespeople, by salespeople.

Real closing involves a lot less pomp and circumstance and a lot more strategy and patience, however. The nine habits below are what truly successful closers lean on to bring in new business.

1) They know the close starts right at the beginning of the sale.

Good closers understand that the sales process doesn’t just involve one close. You are closing a prospect from the first conversation you have with them. By understanding their buyers’ goals, plans, and challenges, great closers are able to position their products in a way that’s most compelling for their prospects from day one.

2) They know that a close goes both ways.

From their first call, great closers aim to discover the information that’ll tell them whether a prospect is worth working with or not. Great closers don’t just spew information and hope the prospect will bite; instead, they work with their prospects to make sure that a sale will be mutually beneficial. When it does become time to talk about pricing and implementation, great closers already have all the context they need to make a compelling recommendation of what will be best for their buyers.

3) They create genuine urgency.

Salespeople who reliably win never rely on the promise of a discount to get the deal over the finish line. They know price should never be the primary reason to buy right now, as opposed to next week, next month, or next year. Instead, they find a legitimate, pressing issue or opportunity related to their product.

Once they’ve helped their prospect understand it’s in her best interest to purchase as soon as possible, they can work with her to figure out the exact terms.

4) They get buy-in on each step before moving to the next one.

Great closers don’t ever risk their time by making assumptions. At every step of the sales process, they check to make sure they’re aligned with their prospect before moving on to another discussion. In this way, their ultimate close — asking for the business — is much more likely to have a positive outcome, and becomes a natural next step in the process.

5) They define their prospects’ decision criteria early on.

Surprises are rarely a good thing in sales, because they’re often a result of insufficient due diligence. The best closers make it a priority to understand everything a prospect is evaluating as early on as possible, so they can provide value in these areas throughout the sales process. They never reach what they believe to be the end of a sales process and suddenly learn that the buyer has three major concerns that have never been addressed.

6) They define their prospects’ purchase process.

Is there a legal review process that will add one to two weeks to the sales process? Is your prospect required to evaluate a certain number of vendors (as government agencies often are)? Are there other procurement process requirements that will require input from you?

Great closers define these steps as soon as it’s appropriate, so they can adequately prepare for a purchase process and keep a deal moving along efficiently.

7) They bring in all stakeholders before negotiation starts.

There’s nothing worse than thinking you have the deal in the bag and sitting down to negotiate, then meeting a previously-unknown stakeholder who has major objections you need to address.

To prevent this from happening, ask, “Who else is involved in this decision that should be on our next call?” at the end of every sales conversation. While it doesn’t make sense for your point of contact to bring in the entire executive team on a first meeting, they certainly need to be looped in as the deal progresses so you aren’t suddenly dealing with five different perspectives you didn’t realize needed to be accommodated at the eleventh hour.

8) They know when to ask for the business.

Closing isn’t a siloed part of the sales process, but you still have to be proactive about it. When all your prospects’ requests have been met, it’s time to lay it all out on the table and ask your prospect if they’re ready to buy.

9) They know their bottom line.

Every prospect wants to get a product for as little money as possible, and every sales rep wants to sell a product with as little discount applied as possible — but most are happy with a figure somewhere in the middle. At the end of the month or quarter, however, reps under stress to meet or exceed quota can fall into the trap of thinking every deal they can bring in, they should.

It’s important to remember that at a certain point, the pain of accommodating the deal will exceed the benefit of bringing it in. Whether your prospect is asking for an unreasonably deep discount, unrealistic implementation terms, or something else that would be a net negative for your company, know when to say when and walk away.

Closing shouldn’t be thought of as a one-off, dramatic affair. It’s a set of repeatable processes and strategies that permeate every sales conversation you have with a prospect. By applying these nine strategies to your own selling, you’ll find that closing comes more naturally and smoothly than ever before.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.

The GSD Show

Source: 9 Habits of Highly Effective Closers
blog.hubspot.com/sales

How to Close Sales in the Age of “Always Be Helping”

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A pushy salesperson isn’t good for anyone.

Sales today is about helping people solve problems like a doctor or a consultant — not slamming deals like a used car salesman.Social media didn’t exist decades ago, but today, 75% of all B2B buyers (including 84% of C-level and VP-level executives) use social media to research their buying decisions. If you’re consistently too aggressive while closing deals, you’re setting yourself up for bad press and damage to your reputation that can last a long time.

For more advice on closing, check out The GSD Show — tips for salespeople, by salespeople.

To excel at modern sales, reps have to juggle a multitude of activities — learning their product, listening actively, handling multiple stakeholders, and mitigating curveballs — all while remaining professional, helpful, accommodating, and staying in control of the process. Setting the right expectations and helping people are important parts of selling today and will likely grow in importance over the next 20 years.

But wait — isn’t sales harder this way?

Maybe, but we have no choice. The rules have changed and you have to change with them. The days of taking prospects golfing to close deals are over.

At the same time, you still have to hit your quota. So what happens if your prospects take their sweet time to make a decision or are spending a lot of time in education or exploration mode?

The key is to manage your deals and sales process in a way that helps prospects move along at a steady clip without being a jerk. The seven strategies below help me exceed my number month after month while still being a helpful, consultative sales professional.

1) Manage a broader pipeline with more deals.

Some of your deals will roll to next month, or next year, or not close at all. Accept that as part of the reality of being a salesperson. In an age where strongarming prospects into signing a deal this month is no longer a viable sales strategy, you have to manage a broader, longer-term pipeline so you have enough volume to hit your number.

Part of managing this pipeline is understanding how to manage your prospects. If your prospects need to delay their start date for a short period of time, that’s fine — but you can’t forecast based on hopes and dreams. Always be as specific as possible when a deal rolls to next month by establishing a specific date and time to follow up. There’s a huge difference between “We’ll start next month” and “We’ll execute the payment link on Thursday, December 17.”

2) Only spend time with prospects who have real business pain.

Good prospects have real business pain. Your job is to help them formulate a good problem definition. Both are necessary for a purchase, and so my priority is finding and defining business pain.

I’m not above saying, “That doesn’t sound like real business pain to me,” to a prospect. After all, it’s more productive for me to offer to stay in touch and periodically send resources to a prospect in education mode if it doesn’t sound like they have thought through what they need. It’s wasteful to spend calories bringing them through the entire sales process, only to have the whole thing go belly-up because their need isn’t acute enough to buy.

But just because your prospect doesn’t fully grasp the pain doesn’t mean there isn’t any. A top salesperson can dig deeper to see if a mere nuisance right now is caused by an underlying problem that will mushroom into something problematic down the road. You are doing your prospect a huge solid if you can help them anticipate future problems.

3) Identify your prospect’s stage in the buyer’s journey.

The modern buyer’s journey has three stages (awareness, consideration, and decision), and buyers have three corresponding modes: education mode, evaluation mode, and purchasing mode. If you treat all your prospects like they’re in purchasing mode and try to aggressively close them, you’ll lose deals and waste time.

Instead, learn to diagnose what stage your prospect is in. For example, if they tell you they need to achieve a certain goal by March 2016 and are speaking with reps at three different companies, they’re clearly in the buying stage. But if they’re still researching what could have caused below-average performance in their last fiscal year, it may be too early to present them with product options.

If the prospect isn’t ready to buy, let Marketing work them instead of Sales. Send them information and then drip them free resources through predefined workflows and have them reach out to you with questions. As they educate themselves on their problem, reach out every few weeks or months to stay connected and check on their progress.

4) Create a buying plan with the prospect’s needs in mind.

In my experience, prospects tend to forget that their journey doesn’t end the day they make the purchase. In fact, the hard work has just begun. To help them understand this, a good technique is to start with their business goals and work backwards to the date they’ll need to implement by to see their ideal results.

The most valuable way to approach this exercise is to have your prospects talk through the timeline themselves and supplement their plan with your knowledge. Having them draw conclusions on their own is far more powerful than telling them what you think, even if you’re right.

Remember to always focus on the implementation, not the purchase, and back up the plan with as much data as possible to create a sense of urgency.

5) Expect curveballs.

Some of your deals will inevitably get delayed or fall through altogether, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t get emotional — understand that at least 10% of people will be irrational or that life will get in the way. I’ve had deals delayed due to car accidents, last-minute vacations, and illness. Eventually, you’ll experience all these things too.

The key is to not get emotional. Many prospects are afraid to call you back when curveballs rear their heads because they don’t want to have a difficult conversation or be strongarmed into doing something they can’t or don’t want to do right now. So always react calmly, and mutually come to next steps with your prospect so they don’t feel attacked.

6) Be comfortable “firing the prospect.”

Know when to say “when.” I’m happy to offer help to any prospect, but it’s illogical to spend a lot of time on a deal that doesn’t exist or is going to be too hard. I’ve had prospects who have asked me for help over five distinct sales pursuits over several years and just can’t pull the trigger. After a certain point, I have to realize that prospects who aren’t ready to buy after multiple sales processes aren’t ever going to be ready, or I’m not the right person for them to work with.

You have to know your own limits for what makes sense — for me, it’s two sales processes that go nowhere. Whenever this happens, closely review the process to determine what you could have done differently. This way, you’ll learn to spot the signs of a prospect who will forever drag their feet and won’t repeat your own mistakes.

7) Ask happy customers for referrals.

Remember when I said earlier that bad actions can destroy your reputation? Your professionalism and excellent sales execution can do exactly the opposite. By leveraging your existing network of customers, you can make future sales easier.

Whether it’s asking your customers to write you LinkedIn recommendations, having them serve as references for prospects, or blogging about your product, your customer base can help you do your job. After all, there’s nothing more valuable to moving a sale along than having someone who’s gone through the exact same process explain how easy it was.

Ultimately, sales is like dating. Ideally, you’ll find a prospect whom you’re a mutual good fit with, and you can close the deal. But if you find a prospect who isn’t ready for you yet, you have a choice. You can force the relationship and have a hard breakup where you’re left with the person you care about bad-mouthing you. Or, you can let the deal go and accept that it’s just timing or other external factors that are off.

Sales is human, but buyer behavior isn’t personal. All too often it can feel that way, but the best sales professionals remember to keep their heads cool so they can be as productive as possible.

The GSD Show

Source: How to Close Sales in the Age of “Always Be Helping”
blog.hubspot.com/sales

The 3 Most Common Closing Curveballs (& How Sales Reps Can Avoid Them)

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In sales, the occasional closing curveball is inevitable. But if you’re consistently encountering unwelcome surprises in the later stages of your sales process, the problem doesn’t lie with your prospects: It lies with you. Asking the right questions along the way will help you identify potential obstacles while there’s still time to deal with them — and meet your quota.

For more advice on closing, check out The GSD Show — tips for salespeople, by salespeople.

Here are the three most common types of curveballs reps face, as well as the questions that will proactively surface them.

1) Timing Curveballs

I can’t tell you how frequently my reps run into misunderstandings around the timing of their prospects’ purchasing decisions.

HubSpot international sales and strategy manager Paul Rios and I discussed deal stages during our recent GSD Sales Show episode, The Modern Close.

We agreed reps often run into huge roadblocks because they don’t understand the stages their buyer must go through to buy a product or service. Your prospect might be completely on board, but the purchasing order takes four days to process, or Legal needs a week to review and approve the contract. These delays inevitably mess with your sales forecast and may even cause you to miss quota.

The solution is simple: Ask the buyer about their process. You can’t directly influence how quickly their company moves, but you can prepare a winning strategy and create authentic urgency once you know what needs to happen.

Ask questions like:

  • “What needs to happen from here?
  • “Who am I going to need to run this by?”
  • “How long does this process usually take?”

Pose these questions at every stage so you’re never caught off-guard. The best salespeople can articulate the exact steps a prospective purchase will necessitate, starting with the day the contract closes and working backwards. 

2) Competition Curveballs

Another common problem my reps run into is that they’re dealing with a prospect who is engaging simply to compare prices or get a quote they can leverage with their current vendor.

When you try to move a deal forward and a prospect says, “We’re just waiting for final numbers from my current vendor,” nine times out of 10 you’ve already lost. That response means you’re down to haggling price — and the cost of switching almost always outweighs the cost of staying.

You’ve also missed the window to compare feature sets, leverage customer case studies, or explore the buyer’s pain points with their current vendor.

To avoid this curveball, don’t be afraid to ask about the competition right from the start. Reps are sometimes afraid to bring up competitors out of the mistaken belief they’ll give their prospect ideas. But think about your own large purchases over the years: Car, cable provider, home, cell phone, and so on. When have you ever bought an item without comparing it to at least one competitive product?

Bringing up the competition won’t put any ideas in your prospect’s mind. They’re almost certainly looking at your competitors, including the incumbent, so surface this information at the beginning.

Ask where they are with their current supplier and understand which other companies are in the running.

These questions will be useful:

  • “What other tools have you considered?”
  • “Is there a chance you stay with your current vendor?”
  • “Which vendors are you going to seriously evaluate?”

Knowing the entire situation helps you better manage the deal — and could even provide an opportunity to lock out the competition with your product’s key differentiators. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

3) Authority Curveballs

I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding exactly whom you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them. Every company has a different approval and purchasing process, and you must understand “who’s who” in your demos or meetings.

Reps often discover late in the sales conversation that their main contact is an internal champion masquerading as a decision maker. Just because your point of contact likes the product doesn’t mean they can independently make the decision to purchase.

Politely ask questions like:

  • “How did this [project, process, initiative] begin?”
  • “How did you get involved and what is your role in the process?”

When meeting new people, don’t be afraid to ask them the same questions. In addition, always request their job titles and contact information. My favorite qualifying question is, “Can you tell me about the last time you made a purchase like this in the past?” The answer will tell you all you need to know about whom you are really dealing with.

If they’ve acted as a budget or signing authority in the past, follow up with detailed questions about timelines, obstacles, dependencies, and so on.

The sooner you know exactly which stakeholders will be involved in the purchase, the sooner you can provide them with the information they need to move forward. I encourage my reps to tailor the content of each of their online demos to appeal to the individuals in the room — and to do so, you need a good understanding of who is in the room.

With these questions in your arsenal, you can learn key details from your prospect before it’s too late. Stop being thrown by curveballs — start anticipating (and more importantly, avoiding) them.

Try join.me for simple, instant online demos. 

The GSD Show


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

14 Phrases That'll Instantly Sabotage Your Negotiation

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Back in March 2014, the Red Sox screwed up in a big way. They completely bungled negotiations with their star pitcher, Jon Lester, by giving him an insultingly low initial offer — and as a result, Lester went to the Chicago Cubs.This incident was (and still is) devastating to Sox fans, but it’s also a good reminder of how challenging negotiations are. If you say the wrong thing, the deal can be dead in the water.

Don’t lose your buyer the way the Sox lost Lester. Here are the 14 things you should never say in a negotiation.

1) “I’ll be honest.”

Some reps think saying, “I’ll be honest,” “I’ll be straight with you,” or “I’ll be blunt” makes it seem like they’re passing along valuable or confidential information. But these phrases usually backfire; after all, they imply you haven’t been honest up to this point.

What to say instead: Rather than giving your statement a long wind-up, just come out and say it. For example:

Before: “I’ll be honest, we probably won’t be able to deliver the product in less than a month.”

After: “We probably won’t be able to deliver the product in less than a month.”

2) “You won’t find a better product out there.”

It’s pretty hard to take this claim seriously; nonetheless, many sales reps still assure their buyers their product is “by far the best” or ‘the most superior offering on the market.” Don’t say this unless you want to lose credibility.

What to say instead: Emphasize your product’s unique strengths or features. Maybe yours is the only one with unlimited bandwidth — instead of saying, “Our product beats all of the competition,” say, “We don’t cap your usage, so you can upload as much content as you want.”  

3) “I’ll give you X, but only if you sign by [date].”

“The rationale behind this kind of ultimatum is that its inherent time-sensitivity will overcome the prospect’s objection and compel a purchase,” explains HubSpot sales writer Leslie Ye. “The problem is that it puts an unnecessary burden on the buyer — buy now or lose your opportunity to buy under these conditions, forever. [And] you can’t force a buyer onto your timeline.”

What to say instead:  “What’s stopping you from pulling the trigger today/this week/this month?”

Ye recommends using this question to surface the buyer’s remaining objectives — a far better tactic if you want to reach the finish line.

4) “Trust me.”

While you might toss out a “trust me” to reassure the buyer, it can be received as fake and manipulative. Plus, trust isn’t something you can simply request: You have earn it. As they say, if you have to ask, the answer is a “no.”

What to say instead: “I’m confident that … ”

For instance, “I know a single day of training doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m confident we can cover everything we need to in that time.”

5) “I need this deal by X to hit my quota/win a contest.”

It might seem reasonable to share your timeline with the prospect, so they’ll be motivated to move faster and help you out. Right?  

If only. Buyers aren’t concerned with your agenda, they’re concerned with their own — which means you should be prioritizing their agenda over yours, too. Mentioning your quota or contest makes you seem self-serving (not to mention desperate).

What to say instead: “To hit [buyer’s milestone] by [date], we’ll need to wrap everything up by [date].”

Showing the buyer how the timeline impacts their goals is a much more effective path toward closing quickly. For example, if they need the product on September 1st and it’ll take a month to deliver, wrapping up negotiations by the end of July is in their best interest.

6) “No.”

When you give the buyer a hard and fast no, it’s pretty hard to get the conversation back on track. That’s not to say you have to compromise every single time they make a request, but you can soften the no by using positive language.

What to say instead: “While I certainly understand, I’m afraid that’s not possible.”

Alternatively, if you are willing to make concessions, try, “We can’t necessarily do X, but we can do Y and Z, which will get us a lot closer to where we want to be.”

7) “I’d [like, need to get, have to have] … ”

Whenever a rep is talking about their own needs and desires, it’s a problem. The focus must always be on the buyer — yes, even during the negotiation. So although you should be well aware of your objectives and where you’re willing to compromise, your language should always be tailored to the buyer’s needs and desires.

What to say instead: Explain how the terms you’re proposing benefit the buyer.

For instance, you might say, “To give you the customer support you’re looking for, we’ll be in the 12 to 15 seat range.”

8) “That’s not fair.”

A conference room is not a courtroom:  Appealing to your prospect’s sense of justice will only make you look like you don’t understand how business works. Ideally, you’ll come up with an agreement that makes both you and the buyer happy — but you should never say “that’s not fair” when they propose something you consider outrageous.

What to say instead: To show you’re listening, clarify what they’re asking for. Then, identify their motivations for the request. You can use this information to float a counter-idea.

Here’s how that might look:

You: “You’d like the $500K package with 240 day payment, correct?”

Buyer: “Yes.”

You: “Tell me about how those payment terms will affect your cash flow.”

Buyer: “Well, we’re currently looking for ways to decrease our annual payables outlay.”

You: “Got it. What if we instead did … ”

9) “You want a high-quality product, right?”

Rhetorical questions like, “You care about quality, right?” or “You want the best bang for your buck, don’t you?” will make most buyers bristle. You want to focus on the value of your product, but this method of reinforcing benefits is way too aggressive.

What to say instead: Lead the other person to their own conclusion by asking a price or quality-focused question. Let’s say you provide business video software. You’d ask the buyer, “Are you interested in having an account manager? That option is only available with the package we’ve been discussing, but the training and support can help you get the most out of the platform.”

10) “I don’t usually do this, but … ”

If you’re selling to a family member or life-long friend, then sure, giving them a better-than-average deal wouldn’t be too strange. However, when you’re talking to a normal buyer, this line comes across as a seedy tactic to induce gratitude. Not good.

What to say instead: If the deal is unusual in some way, you can explain why, but be straightforward and direct. To give you an idea, you could say, “Normally, our pilot programs only last 30 days, but we can extend it to 60 days since you’re implementing the software within two business units.”

11) “I enjoy working with people like you who appreciate value.”

There are a couple problems inherent with this sentence. First, who doesn’t like working with people who appreciate value? Second, it’s far too reminiscent of the stereotypical used car salesman — not exactly the association you want buyers to make.

What to say instead: Pay the buyer a genuine compliment. If they make an insightful comment, tell them, “That’s an excellent point.” If you’re impressed by their analysis, say, “That’s a smart way of looking at it.” By sticking to the truth, you’ll make them feel good without sounding inauthentic.

12) “I’ll send over the contract right now for you to review and sign.”

Technically, there’s nothing wrong with asking the buyer to sign a contract when the negotiation is complete. But those are pretty cold terms — “contract” and “sign” scream sleazy salesperson, not invested business partner.

What to say instead:  “I’ll send over the [agreement/proposal] so you can review and okay it.”

Simply subbing in “agreement” (or “proposal”) and “okay” has a big impact on how friendly and collaborative this phrase feels.

With these phrases cut from your negotiation vocabulary, your chances of closing improve dramatically.

13) “This shouldn’t take too long.”

You’re trying to put the buyer at ease and make the negotiation process feel quick and easy, so you use this line or promise to get them on their way ASAP.

Yet speed is actually your enemy in negotiations. When the other party feels like they’re on a deadline, they tend to act rashly and be more stubborn. If you reassure them that you can take as much time as necessary to answer their questions and develop the best possible agreement, their willingness to compromise will shoot up.

What to say instead: “Do you have any obligations I should know about for time purposes? I’m happy to spend as long as you need getting this proposal to a point we’re both happy with.”

14) “How low do I need to go to make this happen?”

While you might be trying to identify your buyer’s ideal price and/or figure out how aggressively you’ll need to discount, this question makes you seem desperate. Your prospect will conclude you’ll bend over backward to get the sale — and they’ll use this knowledge to their advantage.

And thanks to the anchoring effect (or “the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered”), once they’ve named their price, any price you name above that will sound unreasonable.

What to say instead: “Our price is X. [Silence.]”

Naming the first amount gives you the power to set pricing expectations. In addition, your prospect probably already has a good sense of what your product costs — if your company doesn’t have a pricing page, they can usually find third-party reviews and comparisons. You also should have already qualified them for budget. Since you know they can afford their solution, don’t be afraid to give them a number. Then pause. If they want to negotiate it down or request other concessions, they will.

 

What would you never say in a negotiation? Let us know in the comments.

HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

5 Tactics Smart Reps Use to Get Stalling Deals Over the Finish Line

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It’s the end of the month or quarter, and you’re running out of time to hit quota. A deal you were counting on to close is stalling.

What do you do?

Pressuring your prospect to buy before they’re ready is never wise, unless you want to lose their trust and potentially their business.

But there are several non-manipulative ways to increase the buyer’s urgency — like these five ideas.

1) Present Your Product’s Value in a New Way

Traditional selling advice suggests showing your prospect exactly how much they stand to gain by buying your product.

Here are the four main value propositions:

  1. Increased revenue: “You’ll double your gross profit from X channel in Y months.”
  2. Greater efficiency: “It will take one employee to produce what two produce right now.”
  3. Reduced risk: “The probability of [negative event] happening will decrease from A% to B%.”
  4. Lower costs: “You’ll save $X per quarter.”

The problem with consistently talking about your solution’s ROI? The buyer becomes a little desensitized. The fifth time you bring up how much money she’ll save has far less impact than the first.

To reinvigorate her desire to buy, present value in a new way. If you’ve focused on cutting costs, for example, now highlight your product’s efficiency benefits.

2) Use Social Proof

Prospects often get skittish in the final stages of a deal. If the product doesn’t work as promised, their performance, work reputation, and sometimes even job security will take the hit.

Give them the confidence to move forward with social proof. That might translate to:

  • A blog post from a customer mentioning your product.
  • A case study.
  • A press mention.
  • A positive third-party review.
  • A happy email from a customer.
  • An endorsement from an influencer.
  • Names of well-known companies using your product.
  • A favorable social media mention.

There are other, even more creative ways to demonstrate social proof, such as:

  • A blog post from a company executive on a well-known site.
  • How many customers you have and their usage data.
  • Your integration partners.
  • Pictures, diagrams, or videos of your product.
  • Information about specific products and/or product lines, like “X is selling twice as much this month.”

Once you’ve found some compelling social proof, send it with a note along the lines of, “Wanted to share this with you because … ”

3) Add Some Humor

Are you and your prospect friendly? A humorous email can sometimes make them buy faster — you’ll put yourself on their radar without seeming pushy or annoying them.

Follow this three-part formula:

  1. The dollar value of something they like
  2. Your product’s ROI
  3. Their break-even point with your product

Calculate how many things they could buy with the savings from your product and how long it would take them — if they pulled the trigger today.

For instance, you might write, “If you started using our platform today, it would take you two weeks to make an additional $4,000 — that’s enough to buy 2,010 episodes of Top Chef on demand.”

4) Take Away the Risk

According to Gong.io’s analysis of 25,537 sales calls, using “risk-reversal” language increases win rates by 32%.

To get a deal over the finish line, remind the buyer how easily they can opt out, get a refund, or request support.

These lines may inspire you:

  • “You have three months to cancel and get all your money back if you’re not seeing the results you’d like … ”
  • “It takes two minutes to quit, and you can do everything online.”
  • “Our support team is available 24/7 to answer your questions during the installation process.”
  • “If you’re unsure what to do or want feedback on your strategy, I’m always happy to help.”
  • “It takes our average customer two hours to get up and running.”
  • “We guarantee you’ll see X results if you follow the process we’ve outlined.”

5) Lean on the Bond You’ve Established

Jeff Hoffman, creator of the Your SalesMBA program, advises letting the buyer know when their actions aren’t living up to your expectations.

Suppose you’ve invested a considerable amount of energy and resources over the past four months helping your prospect put together a new strategy for his team — with the understanding you were working toward a sale.

Now, he’s dragging his feet.

You might say, “Tony, we’ve spent a lot of time together since January. I’ve helped you develop an HR strategy to target Cleveland developers, and we’ve also explored how EngineerWorks can increase your company’s offer acceptance rate by 20%. You committed to a full stakeholder meeting May 2 — I’ll be disappointed if that’s no longer happening.”

Of course, you don’t want to guilt-trip buyers for commitments they haven’t made. But in the scenario they’ve reneged, Hoffman says respectfully calling them out will increase your status and motivate them to make up for it.

Closing a deal that seemed destined to stall is an exhilarating feeling. With these strategies up your sleeve, you can make 100% (or even 150%) of your number.

Free Sales Training from HubSpot Academy


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales