In a recent community event that I hosted, the topic of “How to hold your customers accountable” was discussed. I was able to get one of my friends, who has been crushing it in sales for over 15 years and recently had his best year ever, come and share his insights with the group. Here are some of those insights.
Contract negotiation is all about the relationship. Most people just try and get facts about the company that will help the deal move forward, but they are missing key elements. Those key elements are that they need to more fully understand the individual they’re doing business with. It seems a simple understanding of what that person does and their specific role is sometimes overlooked. This is a crucial mistake because if you don’t know who you are literally doing business with, there is no way you can best position yourself and the product to meet their needs.
We also need to realize that contract negation and building relationships is a dance. If you all are not moving in sync, it is felt and problems start to come up. Stop stepping on their toes, take a breath and get back into the rhythm. We need to have our eyes open to everything around us so we don’t mess up by doing a line dance while they are doing the Cupid Shuffle or the Fox Trott. To be a better “dance partner,” go back to the point above and re-read it. Get to know the other party intimately if you want to know how to best move and grove together.
Most importantly, be you. Know what you are great at and go into the conversation putting those qualities and characteristics first. If you are more reserved, don’t come barging in the meeting telling jokes. If you typically slower in building trust, don’t start with a complex question that goes beyond the surface. However you are, lead with that gifting.
Now, let’s say you execute what you think is the perfect pitch and you get to know the customer in and out, but for some reason you don’t get the deal. What in the heck happened? That is a great question and one you need to ask yourself. Don’t go blaming the should have been customer or other people on your team. What you need to be doing is see what you missed. Where you actually talking to the decision maker or where you interacting with the gatekeeper the entire time? Did you miss it because someone had an inside track with an executive so they got the business? If you missed the sale, you need to take the time to look over the whole story and see what fact or issue you overlooked and didn’t clearly answer.
If you didn’t close the deal, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it helps you better refine your craft. Even if you missed the deal for something small, that one thing can be a huge leverage point the next time this opportunity comes around, because lets be clear about one thing… that opportunity to sell is right around the corner.