Blogs Executive Assessment Leadership Development

In this three part series of blogs we’re looking at the Brexit negotiations as a complex sales process and whether Theresa May has the key characteristics required, according to the Acuity® for Strategic Sales model, to deliver a successful outcome.

In Part 1 we looked at internal factors relating to drive and resilience that underpin an individual’s desire to perform to a consistently high level. In Part 2 we evaluate Theresa May’s ability to understand the other party’s needs and drivers in order to provide relevant insights, to solve problems and to drive the sale.

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.

One of the persistent criticisms of the British Government’s position (from Brussels at least) is that it seems to spend far more time negotiating with itself rather than with the EU. Another accusation frequently levelled at Theresa May’s negotiation stance is that the UK has underestimated the EU’s red lines, such as on free movement, whilst issuing red lines of it’s own; the infamous “have your cake and eat it” strategy. Trust appears to be very much at a premium.

At the heart of the Brexit process appears to be a fundamental misreading of the EU as the other party in the negotiations. A lack of clarity of her own objectives hasn’t helped, despite her “Brexit means Brexit” mantra, whilst for much of the process she appears to have been more involved in negotiating with her own party than she has with the EU. At EU summits she regularly appears isolated suggesting that she has been unable to develop the advocates within the EU that she needs in order to secure the concessions that she seeks.

There appears to have been a strategy of ‘wait and see’ in the expectation that Brussels would offer last-minute concessions in an effort to sweeten the deal and avoid a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, but that has led to long periods of silence or stalemate over the last two years as the Prime Minister appears to have deliberately run down the clock. Indeed, this has recently been made explicit by Oliver Robbins, the UK’s Chief Brexit Negotiator. The UK strategy, it seems, is to delay and delay until Theresa May’s deal is seen as the least worst option by Parliament.