Companies often approach me to “ELAvate” the negotiating skills of their sales people. These are companies that have a sales team in place, done the basic selling skills training a few months or a year or two ago, but they still find their sales productivity lagging behind expectations.
A cursory investigation by their sales managers leads them to the conclusion that their sales people are losing sales towards the end of the sales cycle and, therefore, sales negotiating skills are weak. False assumption.
Over the past 25 years, I have found more often than not, a company requirement for negotiating skill training is the wrong “medicine” as it is treating a symptom, not the root cause.
Rather than rush for the order and close on negotiating skills training, I normally do an analysis of three key areas that are a precursor of how successful a sales negotiation will be:
This analysis can be carried out with field visits, observation calls, selling skill mastery tests, focus groups and sitting in on sales coaching meetings. Almost always we find there are significant performance gaps in at least two out of the three precursors of poor negotiating.
Training your sales team in negotiating skills when they have performance issues with these three root causes is a waste of your training money. What then to do?
Developing and maintaining a strong sales coaching culture of proficient product and market mastery, reinforcing effective selling skills, and getting sales managers into the field reaps greater negotiating success than implementing sales negotiating training alone. Why? Proficient sales people end up satisfying and solving customer business issues by selling better and having to negotiate less.
The lesson is simple: make sure the basics of effective sales coaching in place for your sales team to be more effective, then invest in sales negotiating skill training and be amazed how sale revenue ELAvates!