Watched this Sean Connery flick last night for a bit of a wind-down. It’s a fantastic film to watch if you’re doing business in East Asia. I bet the original book (by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton) is gripping. The film lacks something somewhere in translation to screen I suspect, as it doesn’t quite live up to the cast billing, yet it has loads of techniques for negotiation that can add value to any sales armoury.
I’ve always found that most sales people really fall down when it comes to the negotiation stage. I worked with a guy once called Colin Harris. Highly technically proficient, and responsible for bringing in a couple of stella deals, before retreating into murky marketing waters. He once started a negotiation by throwing a Sainsburys supermarket placcy bag across the table. Then made a joke of it being a precursor to “giving the shop away”.
My own first forays into negotiating were disasters. I was so excited-cum-desperate to get a signature with my first few deals, I didn’t mind the margin being eroded as long as I could write the new customer name up on the whiteboard. One guy that stitched me up like a kipper I remember was called Julian Margolin. He ran a toy company (why oh why did I practically give that deal away?!), mind you ten years later I heard he still used the software I sold him, so I’m glad about that. Anyhow, then I realised this approach had to go. In the words of my sales trainer at that time, Welsh wizard Wynn Rees, “you’re offering a product that’s going to save them thousands, and they want a discount? ….[expletive deleted] off”.
Here’s a couple of neat tricks from Rising Sun:
Knowledge Is Power – The opening scenes feature a negotiation where the Japs are eavesdropping in on the Yanks to suss out their perceived weaknesses. Whereas this kind of thing cannot be condoned, the fact is that digging to know as much as you can, and then even more, is one task that most reps fail to appreciate, falling foul of the classic ‘wing it’ mentality.
Saving Face – There are several occasions when Connery’s character realises to progress, he must allow someone to back up a little first. Saving face routes are offered, so that stock can be taken and another avenue tried with no-one feeling hard-done by.
Call In Favours – He’s also not afraid to remind people they owe him one, particularly useful to remember when you’ve helped out a customer one time, conveniently forgotten when you really need their help.
Competition Perspective – When someone’s trying to lay traps for you, think deeply about what it is and why it’s been laid. “Never under-estimate your opponent”, “Never take what he offers you”.
Problem Response – And probably my fave thing to learn from the whole movie, is the Japanese saying, that points out when something goes bad what you should do. So many endeavours go pear-shaped by thinking of these two the wrong way round. You should rather; “fix the problem, not the blame”.