Research shows that the ability to accurately diagnose what the other party is ‘thinking’ in a negotiation can lead to better outcomes for both sides. Having done so, the successful salesperson adapts their own behaviour to suit the environment that they find themselves in. In a complex sale there are likely to be more people involved on both sides of the negotiation each with unique needs and drivers.
Research shows that a salesperson must be ‘market-sensing’ in order to identify key opportunities and threats and to use that knowledge to position themselves as a ‘trusted advisor’ by helping the other party to see situations from different perspectives. By preempting objections they are able to develop advocates on the client side who will help them to take control of the negotiation and enable them to establish clear next steps in order to create momentum.
There is no doubt that Theresa May has a very difficult job on her hands when the country appears so divided. A lot has been written about her leadership style and whether she is sufficiently flexible to broker a deal that is acceptable to all sides. But what if the issue is not her ability to lead but is more to do with her ability to sell? In fact, the whole Brexit process certainly fits our definition of a ‘strategic’ sale i.e. it is a complex negotiation that takes place over an extended timeframe and involves multiple stakeholders.
According to a recent YouGov survey, 51% of people in the UK believe that Britons’ ability to sense, understand and share the feelings of others has declined over the last 12 months. This is particularly interesting as it comes at a time when appreciation of the importance of soft skills in leadership is rising among businesses.
In short it is about motivation, not ability. I’m going to make this really personal. My first ‘real’ job was a sales role. I was attracted to a career in sales at the time because my house mate who had graduated a year before me had embarked upon his own sales career and was enjoying all the trappings of success; a flash company car, full Sky Sports package and no concerns when it came to paying for our regular Sunday evening Domino’s pizza.
When you began your career in professional services did you ever think you’d end up in sales? Probably not. Maybe you still don’t. However, in most consultancies once you reach the level of Partner you are given a formal sales target to achieve. Welcome to sales!
Jo is a technically brilliant accountant who has worked hard to climb her way up to the upper echelons within a large management consultancy firm. Along with her strong technical skills, Jo has always been great with clients, providing an efficient, flexible and supportive service, building relationships based on trust, and providing insight and advice that really adds value. Jo has just been promoted to Partner and she is delighted – with one exception: It’s the first time that Jo has been given a sales target to meet. Jo does not see herself as a salesperson. She knows she is great at what she does, but now she is also expected to bring in significant amounts of business and will be judged accordingly.