Silence Turns Into Gold….For The Buyer.
As it is true with many discoveries, I learned purely accident a negotiation technique I call: “SILENCE TURNS INTO GOLD” …FOR THE BUYER! For over 15 years, as a VP of Sales and Marketing for a distribution company, I was the lead negotiator. I would vet vendors in both new and current vendor categories. I would either be looking for new opportunities or solving problems in current product categories. So, I did a lot of negotiating with vendors of all shapes and sizes.
I would always meet with sales reps because I am a sales guy at heart and “feel their pain”. So, I met with vendors in product categories where I did not have an immediate need or pain. Basically, this meeting was not a priority but a possible vendor addition to the company that once my priority list was taken care of; I can look into this vendor opportunity.
What I discovered was something amazing. How companies negotiate with themselves. In many cases, I would receive MULTIPLE price decreases, better terms, priority status…WITHOUT ASKING. This is not a misprint. With. Out. Asking.
So, I learned about the absolute power of SILENCE – when I was negotiating on a “priority deal” where I had pain to relieve or an opportunity to take to the market…I successfully used the SILENCE TURNS INTO GOLD negotiation technique to my advantage successfully – every time.
Here is the scenario:
Ok – you made your presentation, you gave your proposal. The prospect seemed engaged and interested. The prospect even said: “This looks ok – let me review it and I will let you know.” You accept this as a response as being positive (a continuation or an advance?) you think it went great and move on. You wait….and wait…the buyer is not engaging…. this deal is a priority for you but is it for the buyer?
Back at the prospect’s office…the prospect is thinking – this is not a bad deal at all. I like it. The product looks good…the company is solid…the pricing is acceptable and terms are reasonable. Overall positive. Not currently a priority, so I am going to put this aside for now and attack my current top priorities – get them out of the way then take the next steps in this proposal.
Your boss calls a few days later. She saw in your CRM that the call went great and asks you how the meeting went and what are the next steps. You say I thought it went well but have not heard back from them. After a discussion with your boss – what is the assumption and mistaken judgement that is typically made at this point? OUR PRICE MUST BE TOO HIGH. The boss says – contact the prospect and tell him that our management team has reviewed the proposal and want to revise the pricing. AND WITH OUT ANY INTERACTION, OR REQUEST FROM ME, THE PROSPECT – THE PRICE IS REDUCED!! (This happened many, many times).
The buyer reads his email and responds back: Great – thanks – can you send your revised proposal?
Yes, will do.
That’s cool got a better deal without asking. Now I’ll continue with my priorities. (this deal is not one of them). I’m going to wait this out and see what else these folks come up with….
As a buyer or seller has this happened to you? Come on…be honest. So, as a seller how to avoid this trap?
As is true in any selling situation, what you do in the early stages of the sales process – during the Discovery Stage – is critical to “laying the foundation” of the relationship.
If I would have been asked a simple qualifying question or questions such as:
- What is your timeline to making a decision?
- How would you prioritize this?
- Would you be reacting to solving a problem with a current vendor (reactive – immediate) or would you be looking at this decision as an opportunity to improve your current situation
(proactive not immediate)?
- When do you suggest we schedule a follow up discussion?
- Tell me, what is prompting your interest in____?
- What is causing this to happen?
- What is driving the need for change?
- What originally led you to this decision?
- Walk me through the steps that led you to this conclusion.
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- What is motivating your decision to____
- Why is this important to you?
- What is prompting you to consider taking action?
- What is in it for you to implement this____?
- If you can achieve this result, what will it mean to you?
- What concerns do you have if you are unable to achieve this result? How might failing to achieve it personally affect you?
Any one or combination of the above questions would have communicated my urgency with the vendor and the timing of the next steps. It is surprising that I was rarely asked any of these qualifying questions. That is when I discovered that most sales reps are “tell and sell” leading with product type of sales reps and are really poor at discovery.
If you know the timeline, you won’t be negotiating with yourself and will be able to control the sales process to a profitable outcome that is mutually beneficial to both you and the buyer.
- Your discovery process will lay the foundation for the relationship.
- What is your timeline for making a decision?
- How would you prioritize this decision?
- Don’t negotiate with yourself. – Never volunteer price reductions.
- Establish a timeline.
- You conduct and lead the sales process.
What do you think about Silence Is Golden? Have you ever fallen into this trap?
What can you implement immediately after reading this article?
Finally – help me out – let me know what you may be struggling with right now that I can provide insights and help you with?
Tony Picciano is the founder of Top Sales Success Group. TSS is the result of the unique experience and lifelong ambition of Tony. For over forty years, Tony has worked in sales and sales management with a wide range of businesses from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Tony is not only a sales expert, but also a marketing practitioner with expertise in strategic planning, new product development, new business launches, and collateral material development.