Partnering: Selling Is Not a Four Letter Word - But Being Sold Is!

Let's face facts. Who in the world wants to be sold? I bought a new car a few years ago. It was my third of the exact same model and series. I had already done all my research and I wanted the same car - except a newer model. I knew what I wanted. Instead of just selling me the car - the sales person attempted to sell me. I had already explained what I wanted and that this was going to be my third car. But he continued to sell me. I told him I was already sold - that I just wanted a fair price and the color I wanted. But he continued. I finally asked him to stop and told him he was actually unselling me - and that if he couldn't give me the car, the color and the price, I would go to someone else.

I think this story is typical of buyers today.

Back in the day, selling was an active process of persuading the client. Often this meant persuading the client to do something they didn't want to do. This was high-pressure salesmanship (there's a word you don't see any longer) and often involved manipulation, distortion of the facts, and outright lying. Fortunately, these days are long gone and no one who is in sales does this any longer. However, the misperception of sales and selling still lingers on.

The idea of "I win, you lose" is one where some client people today still come from. This old idea - is where sales person and client are adversaries. While almost every person who is involved to getting business has moved away from this adversarial positioning, there are still those people in client accounts who now set up this adversarial positioning and in fact, their job depends on it - especially in certain services and solutions that are considered a commodity.

In the past, the client was seen as the adversary. Now it seems that some people in the client account see us as the adversary. Of course, this all depends on the client and I believe, where they are in the organization's pecking order, or food chain.

In order to have an adversary or competitor, you have to make the other person disadvantaged. This is an "I give up a little - you give up a little more than what I just gave up" approach. Someone inevitably gets a bad deal and/or feels cheated or "trespassed against." The client feels like they paid too much, or didn't get what they needed, and the professional makes a profitless sale. In other words, both walk away from the transaction with a deficit. When this occurs, the buying process has mutually disadvantaged both parties.

I think the more sophisticated the client and the professional, and the less the service or solution the client wants to buy is viewed as a commodity, the better both the client and the professional interacts with each other. Both parties are aware of trickery and deceitfulness, and ploys and counter ploys that can be used against each other - but choose not too act in that manner with each other.

When both parties are sophisticated enough, and feel they can operate from a higher plain because their self-esteem is strong enough to withstand scrutiny and shrug off judgements of other, they can both get into a term of what everyone knows and hears of as "partnering."

I am leery of the word, "partnering." As one CFO said, "It's not until you have skin in the game that I consider the provider as a partner." I do think there is a middle ground - where there is a certain "skin in the game" for the professional and even the client. It's what we have all heard by now as "win-win."

Even as I type this, I know some of you who will read this will say, I know "win-win." This is nothing new. And I can say, "I agree." The big however is this - so few of us and the client - really truly act in accordance with win-win. Win-win is a sales strategy and buying approach whereby both parties truly act and behave in ways in which both parties make it their objective to create a premium-value/premium-price buying transaction where the professional receives a premium price for what he is providing and the client receives the premium values of the professional's benefits, advantages and results. In this approach, both profit mutually.

Now that you have read the last two sentences, you probably will agree with this statement: very few of us have those kinds of relationships with clients. Am I right?

Negotiating is the process of where you as the professional are working to help the client achieve what they want and need. Mutually beneficial negotiating is the art of making mutually profitable consulting agreements. Profitable for both parties, because that's really what both parties want and need. It is not the art of deception, manipulation, or double-speak. The objective of the buying and negotiation process is to create  a partnership.

No comments:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner