Inked by Jeb Blount

November 29, 2020

When the author starts the book by stating that the topic is boring you might be onto something. Sales negotiations are everyday occurrences, as they should.

Now that you are rightly motivated and still keep reading it’s easier to get some results. This applies to sales very much. It’s the process, stupid!

There are no shortcuts or quick wins. If you’re after those you’re going to be disappointed.

Lack of sales results comes from the fact that salespeople tend to “suck at negotiating” according to Blount. They have limited training, poor emotional discipline, minimal self-investment to their trade, the pipeline is empty and buyers are simply better (prepared and have more alternatives).

There might be some quick wins for the company but not necessarily for the salespersons. Your profitability and even sales may go up by stopping deep discounting and shadow negotiating.

Giving too deep discounts with too large incremental steps empties the deal margins quickly, and discounting is an easy tool that is too often used as a blunt sales instrument as a substitute for sales negotiations.

Blount offers seven rules to follow:

The most important one is that you win first and only then negotiate.

The second opposes the maxim of seeking win/win and guides to go for play to win.

The third recalls the importance to protect relationships unless you’re mostly doing transactional deals. One could state that the previous and this rule are at odds or at least heavily trading with each other.

The fourth states that emotional discipline wins. Often, you are your worst enemy, and silence tends to do your bidding.

The fifth tells to master the sales negotiation by mastering the sales process. It’s a rigorous step-by-step process, and no technique will compensate for skipping steps.

The sixth reminds not to give away leverage for free, ever. If somebody wants something from you, that’s leverage and you should use it.

The final rule is to eliminate and neutralise alternatives, and this goes hand-in-hand with your sales process.

Beyond the essentials, the book is full of practical tips that help in different situations. For example, it’s your job as a seller to avoid long-term negative effects such as resentment or contempt later on. It can happen both ways and destroy the relationship nevertheless.

The human side of the negotiations is paramount. People negotiate for satisfaction and contentment. The facts, objectives and results are important but emotions come first.

Motivation is always personal, even in B2B relationships. The higher the motivation the less the alternatives look appealing.

When you have the sales, buying and decision-making process aligned there’s not much to negotiate if you happen to be in that fortunate situation.

One piece of advice that popped up in my daily activities while reading the book was that do not email proposals, ever. You need a conversation with the buyer, and simply sending something will diminish your leverage and weaken your sales process position.

It’s also good to keep in mind that studies have shown that your IQ drops when you’re in a vulnerable position. A right mindset and having your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) figured out help in this internal battle. Keeping your sales pipeline full does wonders to your inner calmness.

The book is versatile in content. If you’re an experienced salesperson you still learn something new and for those starting their sales career, there’s a lot to absorb.