In July of 2009, one of my favorite clients, Rob, enrolled his sales guy, Jay in group training. Jay had some prior success in sales, but was far from a rock star and his evaluation indicated that although we found areas that he could improve significantly, he felt that he was pretty darn perfect and didn't need our help. (Eventually, Rob and Jay parted ways.)
OK, so one day, Jay comes to training on a day that we're talking about holding your price, being firm, not giving a discount. When it's Jay's turn to talk, he says that good negotiators deserve better prices, i.e. bigger discounts, simply because they're better negotiators.
When Frank Belzer and I worked together, we were pretty complementary and sometimes we'd bring each other in, even if we might be able to handle the 'deal' ourselves. One day, I get a call from an executive that wants a one day training session for 1,000 salespeople at his annual convention. I get Frank in on the initial call. We all talk a while and eventually the executive asks about price and I tell him $10,000 for the day. The executive chokes a little and tells me thats over his budget. I probably said something like, "OK, well thanks for calling." Frank clears his throat and asks if he can ask a question. The executive says, "Sure."
Frank asks, "Do you have any other currency?" The executive asks, "What's other currency?"
Frank: How many customers do you have?
Frank: How many of them sell something?
Exec: All of them. We're strictly B2B.
Frank: What are the chances that we would be introduced to all of your customers as the best sales consultants in the world and that we're the ones that you chose to train your salespeople?
Frank: That's other currency because my guess is that Rick would probably forego part or all of our fee for the opportunity to work with your 30,000 customers. Get it?
Prospect: I love what you've got and I can't wait to get going with you. As a matter of fact, I have board approval to move forward except that they just need you to sharpen your pencil. We need a 30% discount off the cash price and we need the cash price spread out in equal payments over 12 months.
Salesperson: Sorry. I have no flexibility. The price is the price.
Prospect: My board told me that you'd say that because they're very savvy. They also are totally aware that EVERYTHING is negotiable in your industry.
Salesperson: I understand that ALL of my competitors discount, but our company has decided not to play those silly games. Our board feels that savvy buyers are aware that our competitors have a higher asking price so that they can discount when they need to. Our attitude is why should anyone ever have to pay a higher asking price? Why not start at the price-price, not discount and refuse all counter offers. So, that leaves us with the price, or you tell me to go away. Which is it?
Prospect: My board insists on 30%.
Salesperson: So, it's go away. Are you gonna say it or do I have to say it for you?
Prospect: My board insists on 30%.
Salesperson: Got it. I'll go away! Thanks for your time. Sorry it didn't work out.
So, pretend that you're the boss. Which attitude do you want your salespeople to have?
If you're on the board of directors or own stock in the company, which attitude do you want your salespeople to have?
If you're a prospect or customer, which attitude do you want your salespeople to have?
If you're a salesperson, which attitude do you want to have yourself and which attitude do you want your fellow salespeople to have?
If enough of you ask in the comments, I'll get some friends to help with an e-book or series of videos all about the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of sales discounts.