Negotiation: 5 Key Failings of Sales Teams When It Comes to Negotiation

Table of Contents

Blog by Andrew Milbourn

CEO of Kiss the Fish Ltd and Chairman of Kiss the Fish Training Ltd

Is your organization just too ‘nice’? 

  • Lack of adequate preparation.

Negotiation is not just about the art of getting what you want…it is also about what you can give without taking away from what you really want. A lot of salespeople have similar characteristics, we look for charming people, confident people with good communication skills. The other side of the coin is that these people are often poor at admin (they don’t use the CRM) and not good with detail. In the sales role, this translates as a lack of preparation which can be costly when it comes to negotiation. Going into a meeting without being sure of your bottom line can seriously impact your bottom line.

  • Negative bias creates a feeling that we are always going to be too expensive

Studies of psychology show that our natural negative bias (memories based on unpleasant feelings), overrides reality by a factor of 9. So if a buyer argues with us and says we are too expensive when we come off the call we are x9 times more likely to remember that moment that we are the other 8 meetings where price wasn’t really an issue.

Our own research backs this up – in interviewing sellers and buyers we find that…

65% of salespeople when questioned about why they didn’t get the order in a negotiation with a potential client say they couldn’t match a competitor’s price. That statistic seems reasonable until you interview the other side of the equation and talk to the buyers.

Only 15% of buyers say they didn’t buy from a potential new supplier because of the price.

So many sales teams are beaten by a false narrative which they appear to be committed to. Now of course it may be that your product or service is not as competitive as it could be but we find that this is usually down to a lack of understanding of how to sell value – not because the products are inferior.

  • Sales team’s ‘give away’ low-value concessions without ever putting a value on them.

How many times has your team just given away something that a client really wants because it is valuable to them? I see it all the time as things like ‘next day delivery’ and ‘free storage’ are given away by a sales executive so much so that the buyer doesn’t even stop to think about the value they are getting (for nothing).

Sales negotiators must get into the habit of valuing concessions in the other party’s terms – that way, even if things like ‘next day delivery’ are part of your regular offer, at least the buyers hear what they ‘should be’ paying for it. Research shows that buyers go easier on the final price when they are made to consider how much value they are getting in the package they are buying.

  • Sellers ‘give away’ concessions without getting anything.

Fear of failure and the hope of a deal leads sales execs (and sales managers) to say ‘yes’ when they should say ‘yes if…’ and put conditions on any movement in a negotiation. This simple little part of the process can save you thousands. I see it all the time when in the field coaching salespeople…the deal is close to the end and the buyer says – “if you give me a further discount I’ll agree to the deal”. The seller foolishly rushes to get the agreement and says ‘yes’ to that final discount, only for the buyer to take it and then demand something else.
The reason for this is two-fold – firstly, sellers desperately want to get every deal over the line and lack the process required to be professional and secondly, many in the sales role are simply too ‘nice’ or emotionally weak and unable to say ‘no’

  • Enter a negotiation without knowledge of a secure process to negotiate with.

The art of negotiation requires many facets which relate to how we manage combat – it isn’t necessarily a nice situation to be in and yet it is a very important part of buying and selling. It is a fact that very few companies can afford to walk into every sales situation with a potential buyer and hold the buyer to the price list they create. Almost every market has a wide choice of suppliers all in need of more business.

The only secure way of handling this pressure is to be clear on the value of what you deliver and to have a secure process that permeates the whole business to secure negotiations in a balanced and principled way.

Everyone needs to know how to negotiate.

Kiss the Fish Training Ltd will be running negotiation workshops exclusively for Community businesses to help both sales and buying teams become more confident in the negotiations they have to engage with. Do get in touch with me at for details of when we are coming to your area to help train these vital skills.

Thank you

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