9 Rules for Negotiating a Complex Deal

Hi sales stars!

This blog is based on my field experience working with clients and successfully negotiating complex deals in the B2B space- in fact when you move from pure services and products driven organizations, to a solutions marketing and sales business, the rules become critical to your success.

I would use these rules in my sales playbook.

  • Rule #1: Prepare thoroughly. Collect and evaluate information on leverage, values, sale prices, competition and other factors that will have an effect upon the negotiation.
  • Rule #2: Develop realistic expectations. Temper your aspirations with “feasibility” based upon what your counterpart has in mind, and reassess your expectations as the negotiating progresses.
  • Rule #3: Know your pricing parameters. When it comes to price, before bidding, know the deal you want and are able justify as being realistic.
  • Rule #4: Decide whether to “go first” or not. If you put your own number on the table, you put your counterpart into your ballpark.  But, beware, you might accidentally low-ball.
  • Rule #5: Give yourself room to maneuver. Leave yourself some bargaining room, but make sure that you have a plausible rationale for the positions that you take.
  • Rule #6: Manage the concession process. Let your counterpart know that every concession is meaningful and don’t let your counterpart think that holding out will reap big rewards.
  • Rule #7: Create and sustain credibility. Buttress any positions that you take with appropriate rationales. Be specific about your facts, and stay detached from the emotion of the negotiations.
  • Rule #8: Negotiate until the contract is signed. Don’t relax once there’s a meeting of the minds because negotiating a written contract is an important final step.
  • Rule #9: Know when it’s time to close. If the negotiation is going well and you’ve got most of what you want, don’t keep negotiating.

What is driving brand convergence today?

Media fragmentation, communication clutter in the markets, too many brands competing in an increasingly tight space at the top of the consumer pyramid ( leaving the BoP vacant!!), inability of the brands to penetrate the BoP markets….all these are reasons enough for brands to contemplate convergence- it may even be crucial to their survival.

Think of it as “collaboration” between brands, who are able to identify complementary and supplementary values that are logical for them to work together- leading to the brand convergence that we are speaking of.

The dictionary meaning of the word “convergence” varies from “the act of synergistically coming together” to “contraction” to “similarity of form and structure.”

So what are the prime drivers for brands to converge today- according to me they are the following

  • Primarily non-competing brands will clamor to get together in today’s tough times. For the competing ones, even though some synergies might be working at the back end, it will take further evolution till they converge in the consumer space unless of course the companies merge or brands are bought over.
  • The brands should have a similar Target Audience in order to contemplate convergence. This might be obvious to some, however the similarity should not end at the demographic level but also extend to the psychographics and buying behavior.
  • They should have similar brand appeal and perception. Each of brands coming together should only enhance and/or reinforce the basic image of the other one. In a sense they should complement each other in terms of the perception consumers carry about them.
  • The converged entity/product has to meet a genuine consumer need. Convergence for the sake of it will not just add no marginal value to the brands but a venture gone wrong can in fact erode brand equity.
  • The converged offering needs to have a unique value proposition, different or greater that the individual offerings. In a way the joint offering should be more potent than sum of all individual offerings.

The last point nails it! The essence of a successful collaboration (convergence ) is that the SUM is greater than the individual numbers that each brand brings to the table!!

9 Questions to Ask Before Presenting

Hi readers,

My sales team members, especially the future stars often asked me- how can we make our engagement with our clients effective so that the sale is closed quickly and the client is satisfied that our offer (product or service) is the best from among the competition?

The difference between an ordinary sales rep and a star is that, the regular sales rep thinks that a sales call consists of a rambling speech, a monologue in which he talks about the company he represents, talks about the product or service that his company offers in elaborate detail and then goes down to some “rapport” building exercises!

Please note – I used the word MONOLOGUE, and thats a dead give away! The description of a sales rep- client engagement mentioned above is what happens in almost 90% if cases, where the sales rep believes that he just pocketed the sales by leveraging his communications skills, his articulation skills and his smarts!!! (he conveniently forgets in this assessment that during this engagement, he spoke for 80% of the time, while giving the client only 20% of time to make his point!!)

This is bound to lead to failure! Wrong assessment on all counts!!

This “show up and throw up” approach is particularly common inside companies that are proud of their products and services ( to a fault) and believe that the quality and capabilities of those products and services are what drives their customers to buy. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Unfortunately , marketing and sales heads in these companies let past successes of their products and services get to their head and complacency often sets in- the consumer / client is relegated to the position of “needy buyer” who has no choice and no alternatives!! wrong again!!! THATS SALES HARA KIRI!!

Customers don’t give rat’s rear end for your business, your company or your products. Customer are interested in their own career, their own company, and the ability of their own company to sell to their own customers.  In that order.   Your “stuff” isn’t even on their list.

(Marketers WAKE UP and smell the coffee!!)

With this in mind, here are nine questions to ask yourself before you make any sales presentation:

  1. How does this individual perceive the problem I intend to solve?
  2. What is the pithy summary of my idea that will appeal to this person?
  3. What roles does this person play in the decision-making process?
  4. What is my goal for this encounter?
  5. What is the basis for my credibility with this person?
  6. Will my idea conflict with any of this person’s beliefs?
  7. How might my idea conflict with this person’s interests?
  8. Can I leave the relationship better than I found it?
  9. What kind of public commitment from this person would best build momentum?