One of the benefits of attending industry trade shows is being able to learn best practices from industry leaders. For us in the sales training industry, it is always useful to see how clients (i.e., sales organizations) develop and implement sales training programs.
I used to sell software licenses. My customers didn’t even get a box in their hand. I reflected on what I was actually selling to my customers. That’s when I came across the book written by Harry Beckworth, titled “Selling the Invisible.” It resonated with me because it caused me to consider the inherent challenges of selling value where many of the benefits are intangible. What were my customers really buying?
I recently spoke with a key account manager at a major pharmaceutical company who shared with me the following anecdote. He was part of a “bake-off” among vendors competing for a major account and presented first. After the second vendor presented, our account manager heard back from the decision maker informing him that he won the business.
One of the most startling changes in selling over the past decade has been the rapid evolution in customers’ overall sophistication and knowledge (courtesy of the Internet). According to a research study most customers are 85% through their purchase process before they even call a sales person. And by that time, they may have decided that your competitor was a better option.
Much of the advice on how to conduct effective sales negotiations counsels you to use a collaborative sales negotiation style to achieve a "win-win" outcome, but there are situations where you are better off to be competitive in your negotiating style.