Salespeople are notoriously inept negotiators. This isn’t a criticism at all. They are two entirely different disciplines. A bit like finding an actor that’s become a fine musician, or the other way around. It hardly ever happens.
Apparently, we in the UK are shedding our centuries of reserve and unquestioning acceptance to now embrace haggling on the high street. The Telegraph this morning offers wonderful insight into how this is all working, including priceless tips on how to gain cash slashed off in-store prices.
Just a couple of days ago I was buying my sister lunch and spotted a Borders bookshop. I wanted to buy Seb Coe’s new tome, The Winning Mind. After some playful banter with the assistant, I gathered up that and another, but on returning to the counter, noticed the paperback was a little scuffed around an edge. I suggested that this was worthy of a pound’s deduction. She said she couldn’t do that, but would ten percent off be alright? 90p, a cup of tea!
When I was a cubrep all those years ago, the great Wyn Rees came in and gave us a day’s training in negotiating skills. We were all obviously awful, but four things have stood by me ever since.
- Never open your mouth without knowing how you’ll use the construct “if you…, then I’ll…“
- Rigorous preparation must include knowing every negotiation currency and each one’s bottom-line
- Wherever possible introduce new people to conduct the negotiation
- Slow everything right down
The session was in part necessitated because two of my senior colleagues had rocked up to a megabucks closing deal meet, where their first gambit was to push a plastic supermarket bag across the table and grin, “we’re here to give the shop away”.
The aforementioned Telegraph article ably demonstrates that win-win discounting can happily apply, and in these credit crunch recessionary times, people will more and more be demanding purchase incentives.
I think the major take-away from this is clearly to avoid pure isolated price reduction. Whenever someone asks for a discount, and let’s be realistic, in the b2b world everyone expects their price will be “list-less” something, the first tactic should be to say ‘no’. Defend your price. From then on, only offer a cut if they add to their ‘basket’ and take something else extra as well.