Jul 232011

A woman in Norfolk, in southern Virginia has been receiving salary for the past 12 years. This is not about the US debt negotiations or recent recession. She was fired 12 years ago. Yet, the pay from the Norfolk Community Services Board kept coming in.

According to the report, “for the last 12 years the agency has been paying her $25,000 to $40,000 a year with full benefits even though McGlone was not coming to work. Also, she was given regular pay raises.”

Nix everything you have read here about pay raises and how to negotiate them.


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Jun 032011

One of the worst behaviours in the realm of sales and sales management is discounting. The corporate euphemism is usually something along the lines of ‘providing the customer an incentive to buy.’
Hold on a second! Why does a customer need another incentive to buy if the product has benefits and offers superior advantages over the competition?
Discounting – or positively responding to such requests from potential customers – is self-defeating and bad practice. It is a negative not just for the seller either. It is also a negative for the buyer. How so?
First, giving away margin and price points upfront is rarely, if ever, a temporary situation. The new lower price is now the permanent price. A customer that has successfully obtained a lower price will demand the same going forward. Not only are customers prone to protecting their gains, but also the discounted price is perceived as the fair value price for the product or service. Any salesperson that agrees to a lower price should not be under any illusion that the loss will be made up later. There is no such thing as an introductory price anymore.
Moreover, prices are set according to costs, business plans and market conditions. Losing the required profit margin might imply incurring a loss and jeopardizing the seller’s longevity or security. Buying a customer’s business is the wrong notion.

Why is the lower price ultimately bad for the customer? It does several things. A buyer and a seller should maintain a mutually beneficial synergistic relationship. When one is threatened, the other should be concerned. The seller needs to provide after-sales support and, in most cases, enhancements, maintenance and upgrades. Furthermore, discounting tells the buyer that the initial price was dishonest and false. Not a good start to a relationship. Pricing integrity takes honesty and courage in the short-term, but is a good idea for the long-term.

    1. Maintain a healthy pipeline
    2. Allow your fair pricing policy to become your reputation
    3. Sell according to identified benefits and Return On Investment and
    4. Remember that a customer should not be a loss leader.
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      Apr 172010

      Steps To Effective Listening:

      1- Listen – yes, oddly enough one has to listen without prejudice or interrupting.
      2- Listen For The Main Idea – what is the main and specific idea being put forth?
      3- Listen For The Reason – what is the rationale and reason behind the ideas discussed or proposed? Is the premise correct and based in fact?
      4- Organize – give the message conveyed an organization and order. It helps results gel and and for the listener to retain the information.
      5- Ask Questions – once the speaker has ended ask questions. Be sure that your own biases have not tainted what you heard.

      Taking notes is a good idea. It shows that the listener is interested. It also is a better method of keeping record than memory alone.

      *Things That Need To Go Away: listening meetings where the decision has already been made and conclusion already reached.


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      Mar 152010

      A good salesperson knows that unless the product being sold has to do with ‘purchasing’ or ‘supply chain’ or ‘procurement’ then he or she is not ultimately selling to the Purchasing Department. The purchasing agent or manager is shopping or buying for another group within the organization.

      This can be empowering for the seller. For one, the purchasing department has rules and regulations it needs you to follow. Ask what those are, follow them and you have a level playing field of sorts (more on the “of sorts” in a moment). Secondly, if the purchasing department is speaking with you then the decision to buy has likely already been made. The purchasing agent is simply relaying the information and seeking to fulfill a request. Whether the action was prompted through your activities or in the background is a different matter. At this juncture, one can stop selling (not in the need creation sense) and concentrate on following the rules set forth. One of these might be the procurement of the lowest price possible; however, this requirement is usually offset by minimum quality standards imposed upon the product and the vendor. Countering a lower price request with information on the quality, reliability and service of your company is sensible at this juncture.

      With all due respect to the Purchasing Department, which has an important role to play in ensuring various rules and regulations are followed and that the organization takes delivery of the correct service or product it requires, selling to this department is often not fruitful. The needs are determined by the various lines of business and relayed to the company’s buyers. Spending time to create needs and describing a product or service’s pay-off does not belong to this part of the organization. Neither does excessive price negotiations because, at the end of the day, this branch of the buying firm has to be, and is, concerned with taking timely delivery of the correct product without subsequent deficiencies or defects. The price negotiation, if any, is simply the methodical processing of a buyer’s duties.

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      Nov 262009

      Common wisdom in sales and management circles has revolved around the need to set personal goals, visualize, negotiate, and achieve.
      A new school of thought suggests that the secret to success could actually be to take the opposite route.
      Two new books regarding happiness, success, communication and persuasion argue respectively that happiness should not come at the expense of realism and the way to negotiation is to be receptive and listen with purity.

      Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, from the author of over a dozen other books, has used her experience as a breast cancer survivor to argue that the advocates of positive thinking are doing their followers a disservice. She insists that being positive about everything is not always good or superior. In other words, in corporate-speak, not every problem is a challenge and not every challenge is an opportunity. Ehrenreich claims that the incessant abuse of positive thinking has lead to a culture of not confronting problems. This school of thought leads to tangible problems.

      Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen: Discover The Secret To Getting Through To Absolutely Anyone comes from the perspective of a psychiatrist and an FBI negotiator. He claims that the contemporary needs for ‘producing’ costs us business and personal relationships. Should we accept that sales, marketing and management have relating and relationship building as their cornerstones then we would do well to delve deeper into his thoughts. The book takes the stance that the best way to achieve what we want – be it a sale, a promotion or a concession – is to be receptive to the other party – i.e. empathy. The book insists that taking a more ‘natural’ stance is actually the better way to succeed. Goulston believes by listening, and listening even more deeply, could one get through to the angry customer, narcissistic co-worker or dissatisfied employee. He goes on to insist that the social media does us a disservice by emphasizing quantity over quality. According to the book, the best way to listen is to listen without an agenda. This would be the purest form of listening. Oddly enough, he does have a Facebook account!

      Just Listen To Buy The Book

      Just Listen More information


      Bright-sided To Buy The Book

      Bright-sided More information


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      Jan 202008

      There comes a time in every salesperson’s professional career in which he or she is at the stage where the hard work pays off and a sale is imminent – and then the prospect goes silent. It is a bewildering time assuming one has done all the right things. Why was one promised and consequently presumed success only to be confronted with silence instead of a Purchase Order? Where has the contact gone? Why are they not returning your calls? Did you miss something or have circumstances changed? Who knows?

      It is time to call a meeting!

      Without news or updated information it is impossible to act, react or interact and to find out whether a deal is happening or not. If not, why not? Is it something that can be addressed? If yes, when and are there any modifications at hand?

      It is time to invite the prospect’s team to a meeting – telephone, videoconference or in-person. It is important to invite a team from the customer for several reasons. A larger team can bring any concerns to the table. It can give one different perspectives and open up the flow of information. It signals a sense of immediacy and a desire to resolve the issue.
      It also has the effect of nudging your contact(s) into action. It is likely that this escalation will help one receive the information one needs either through the group’s collaboration or by forcing the other party’s hand, providing momentum and illuminating the situation. Their acceptance or rejection of the meeting will yield plenty of information either way.
      Of course, isn’t it time your customers started feeling like collaborators and part of the team and accepted periodic meetings?

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      Mar 142007

      It is often the case that companies believe that once a sale has been completed it is time to move on to the next customer. Yet, the truth is that the customer’s interaction with the company has probably just begun. Customer service professionals, post-sales managers or salesperson in charge of their own client relations know that their customers might (and probably will) at some point be less than pleased with the service they are receiving.

      Whether the complaint is caused by a real or perceived deficiency or under-performance it is time to allow one’s superior customer service skills kick in. It is not only a matter of ethics and responsibility, for experience shows that gaining a new customer is more expensive than retaining a current one.

      Propriety and business acumen? Follow these steps to speak to displeased clients:

      *Listen and understand: you don’t know the issue without hearing it fully.

      *Take notes: write the issues raised by the other party down for review and future reference. The notes will be better reflections of the situation than one’s memory.

      *Ask questions: in order to fully understand the situation ask questions and do not rely on conjecture

      *Repeat: go over the issue and paraphrase in order to make sure that you have understood the origin of the problem, the required next steps and your customer’s request.

      *Acknowledge: let the client know that you have heard and understood them. Verbalize this.

      *Facts not feelings: stick with factual information and avoid hysteria and ego. Use precise language and stick to the facts with an impartial tone of voice or body language.

      *Inform: tell the person that you would like to help. Also acknowledge that you can hear the concern, sorrow or regret in their voice or can see it on their face.

      *Coordinate: work with them within legal and legitimate means to remedy the situation. Outline this (again factually) and obtain buy-in

      *Update: keep the person informed and be upfront if the issue will not be resolved right away. People are often reasonable if treated with deference.

      The above steps are valid and should assist significantly if followed; yet the emphasis should be on taking the sensationalism and personality out of the picture. Do not take it personally if a customer is upset and take pride in rectifying the situation.

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      Mar 132007

      Quick, raise your hand if you look forward to customer objections.

      Congratulations to those who did for, as seasoned professionals know, objections are a gir… salesperson’s best friend. It is natural of course to dislike, even abhor speed bumps and dread the inevitable objections that prospects raise – unless one is the president of a debating society – but before doing so out of habit pose a few questions to yourself.
      Don’t you have objections before you make a purchase? Don’t you need reassurance before you part with your money? Do you ask for a better deal or even haggle? Doesn’t eager questioning imply you are getting closer to making a decision? Then why dislike the natural progression of the sales cycle?

      Objection means interest, engagement and frankly a potential sale. A customer who is not raising the bar or posing questions is not likely to work with you.

      The experienced professional expects objections and moreover looks forward to them.

      -Be ready! Customer objections (for your industry or product) are probably not as varied as you may think. Be prepared for them, make notes of past objections you have heard and review them periodically.

      -Do try to remove them proactively. Since we know that they are inevitably coming it is prudent to begin tackling them sooner rather than later. “Horatio, before we go any further, you have to agree with me that we will not be the lowest cost provider in the market. After all, you want to make sure that we remain healthy and viable business partners of yours for years, don’t you?”

      -Reassure the customer that their objections are normal, been encountered by you before and that you appreciate their thoughtfulness. Furthermore, despite the objections having been raised before, the people bringing them up are now happy customers of yours.

      -Ask exact questions to exactly understand the reason behind the objection. In order to answer the underlying question one needs to understand its extent and to whom they really belong.

      -Agree and deflect. Some might liken it to verbal judo: “Horatio, I admit that we will not always be the fastest to deliver, but do you agree that you will not always need delivery 6:00 am the next day?”

      The seasoned sales professional is gratified that customers have questions about products and services which they are considering and look forward to assisting customers with their decision.

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      Mar 092007

      While many commentators, courses and books like to assert that there are hard and fast rules when negotiating the truth is that this may or may not apply.
      The caveat applies because different buyers and sellers have different personalities and temperaments and deserve to be treated (some would say ‘handled’) differently. Consider the person across the table from you before you plot a strategy.

      Extroverts (let’s say they are energetic, messy, quick and excitable) deserve enthusiastic reciprocation, but an amiable type (generally considered ‘weak’) would need a more considered tone and a slower pace. An analytical person (details, details and more details) would demand the same, while the bossy types would demand subservience and respect.

      To make matters more complicated most people fall between two of the named categories and cannot be strictly pigeonholed into one personality type.

      Nevertheless, there are time-honoured tactics that apply in negotiations.

      *Always aim higher than you would settle for and would realistically get. In the developed world it is accepted that the parties would meet somewhere in the middle – i.e. split the difference.

      *Flinch, be upset and hang your head in shame. Do so when being pressured and squeezed.

      *Take every advantage of reminding the other party why you and your good or service is unique. They may be forgetting why you are there, but it all bears reminding.

      *Do not accommodate easily. You would probably leave business on the table and, what’s worse; imply that the other party did not negotiate well.

      *Promise something in the future, but obtain something now. Giving away future concessions, but obtaining business today is often advantageous.

      *Last, but most importantly, feel free to terminate negotiations or refuse the business. The right to refuse unprofitable or uncomfortable business is yours. Take advantage of this negotiation tactic!

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