Dialogue 7. Sales Philosophy and Negotiation Strategy
A little bit of philosophy
S: Why do you want to discuss sales philosophy with us? We are not philosophers, we are sellers. We need to work, not philosophize.
T: The sales philosophy is neither Marxism-Leninism, nor dialectical materialism nor existentialism, it is your mindset in sales.
You can follow any sales philosophy, but you must have one. It is advisable to be aware of what philosophy you are following and what it can lead to. Then it will be easier to accept its undesirable consequences for you.
We offer you a new sales philosophy: win-win sales. This philosophy, which is hard to believe at first, might help you sell your products easier and more successfully. In addition, it helps you become a professional seller fast.
Advantages of customer retention
S: How could this philosophy help us sell more easily and more successfully?
T: First of all, a win-win sales philosophy helps increase the customer retention rate.
Sales should not be “one-time”, but rather “permanent”: the buyer who bought a product or service once then buys from you regularly or as needed. The benefits of permanent sales are obvious: the cost of new sales is significantly reduced, which means that profit is growing. Some experts argue that permanent sales cost companies 3-5 times less.
To make the sale permanent, you need to establish a long-term relationship with buyer. There are difficulties with sales based on a one-sided benefit (win-lose, when one side of the sale wins and the other makes a concession and loses) or on an absent benefit (lose-lose when both sides lose by making mutual disadvantageous concessions). Such a sale cannot serve as the basis for a long-term relationship. Harshness builds up due to unwanted loss. Relationships get cold, at least one side begins feeling stuck with other side forever and looks for ways to break such ties.
Relations become long-term if they are based on mutual benefits. The sale should be mutually beneficial (win-win, when neither side makes any significant concessions, and as a result both parties benefit from the sale).
“Win-Win sales”: what’s that?
S: What do you call win-win sales?
T: If we consider the sale as a “one-dimensional” exchange of one value (product) for another (money), there is no sense in making it mutually beneficial. The model of such an exchange is a “zero sum game.” Whatever one side wins, the the other side loses – a zero sum. Both sides may lose, as well. But both sides can never win.
S: How else should we consider the sale? It is what it is: the exchange of goods for money.
T: A mutually beneficial sale is a “game with a non-zero sum.” Then we see the sale as a multidimensional exchange of many values. So, if the seller helps the buyer to avoid the troubles associated with the purchase of goods, then the buyer, in response, will buy the goods on the seller’s terms. Both parties benefit from such an exchange: the buyer receives more than the goods, he also gets rid of possible trouble, and the seller receives more than he could expect from the sale, he establishes good relations with the buyer, and the sale takes place on his terms.
Win-win sale is based on the love of the buyer. In order to tune in to the search for mutually beneficial solutions, you need to love your customer, treat him kindly. This attitude makes the search for mutually beneficial solutions a natural rather than a far-fetched procedure. And only such naturalness is perceived by the buyer as the seller’s honesty, the key to establishing the long-term good relations.
S: Now, everything is clear. We have heard this blah-blah-blah more than once. Bullshit!
T: It’s true that whole volumes have been written about this, all the “sales gurus” are talking about it. There are just no recommendations on how to love a customer. The win-win sales technology provides for a “technique of love”:
Take care of the buyer: think about the advantages and benefits the buyer could gain, as well as identify and prevent troubles that threaten him.
Earn the trust of the buyer: talk about his advantages and benefits rather than about your own ones and solve his problems together with him.
Never get annoyed when the buyer objects: be confident that any of his fears can be addressed by aiming at prevention of the real threat.
These three components comprise the “love for the buyer”: being calm and confident, taking care of the buyer, and gaining his trust. We do not start with “love.” We start with techniques of win-win sales. When the techniques are mastered, what you demonstrate to the customers could be perceived by them as “love.” And then this attitude to customers will become your second nature.
Gurus recommend: first, “love the buyer,” and then... Our advice is quite the opposite: first learn how to work with the buyer, and then “love” comes naturally.
S: And what is the real meaning of this talk about “love”?
T: You know, it takes a very long time to explain. Let me give you a simple example.
Everyone knows the old story about two sisters, Mary and Lizzie, who can’t share the last orange. In fact, there are only four ways to divide it. The easiest is to cut the orange in half and give each of them half of orange. Harder ways are to give the whole orange to either Mary or Lizzie. For example, tell Lizzie, “You’re the youngest, give in,” or say to Mary, “You’re the eldest, be smarter, bear with it!”
But there is one more way: first, figure out why each of them needs an orange. And then it turns out that Mary wants to squeeze the juice, and Lizzie wants to use the orange peel in a recipe. True, to find that out, you should apply a certain effort. You need to see that each of the sisters is a person, that each of them has her own interests, that these interests must be respected, and in fact, show true parental love.
And what could it produce? Let us now compare the effectiveness of each method of sharing.
The first way is to cut the orange in half. Mary gets half a glass of juice while Lizzie can bake half a recipe of cookies. Mary throws away the peel from her half and Lizzie drops the pulp from her half. Half an orange goes in the trash.
The second way is to give the whole orange to Mary. She gets a full glass of juice, and Lizzie is left without a cake. The peel goes in the trash.
The third way is to give the whole orange to Lizzie. She can bake a full recipe of cookies, but Mary is left without juice at all. The pulp of an orange is in a trash bin.
Well, the fourth way is to give Mary the flesh, and Lizzie the orange peel. Mary gets a full glass of juice while Lizzie gets a full recipe of cookies. Interestingly, nothing goes to the trash.
Which of these approaches is the most efficient? Naturally, the fourth one. The condition under which it is possible is love, a real interest in what each of the sisters wants to achieve. No love, no efficiency. I hope, this example is enough?