PROACTIVE: Does painstaking homework to see through surprises

PROACTIVE: Does painstaking homework to see through surprises

“Pradeep, may be Covid will be kind to us. It might give us the break we desperately need” said Pragna.

“Cracked a large deal or what?” laughed Pradeep on the phone

Purus Facility Management Services (PFMS) was Pragna’s 5 year old venture. With a small, compact team, PFMS offered facility maintenance services to corporates in the city. For a modest annual maintenance fee, PFMS looked after the upkeep of offices, guest houses and serviced apartments of corporates. Pradeep’s private equity firm had organized the funding support for PFMS

“Some exciting news, yes", said Pragna “HIJ Bank, a major private sector bank seems interested in retaining us. We will have to take care of the upkeep of its 15 branches in the city. We got the proposal through one of our Customers dealing with HIJ Bank. Apart from regular upkeep, we will also have to look after routine Covid prevention disinfection. New territory for us, but our team can do it”

“So, when are you inking the deal? ” asked Pradeep

“Frankly Pradeep” said Pragna, "I’m anxious and excited in equal parts. Getting this deal will help us attain critical mass. But HIJ Bank appears to be talking to other facility management players. Have a meeting with their Facility Services Head tomorrow. He wants to know our broad terms of offer. I’m nervous. I wish my B School course had prepared me for this sort of make or break negotiations. I know I have to be proactive and prepare. But what to prepare is the big question”

“Firstly, let me congratulate you on taking a proactive approach to this opportunity. I appreciate you want to prepare, to think through this opportunity, and respond to it, rather than just react. Tell you what, I will right away send you a negotiation checklist framework that I’ve kept with me from my initial sales training. Reason that this framework is so powerful is that it anchors your proactive behaviour to a proven sales process. Try it and you’ll ace your nego ”

Seconds later Pradeep’s mail with the attachment arrived. And in minutes Pragna was busy conferencing with her core team.

Responsible Sales Leadership is not just about winning or losing a deal

It is about how a sales leader approaches the challenge. Proactive sales leaders are seldom shocked by wins and loses. In some way, they have seen it coming, and are prepared to face it. They may or may not win all the time. They are always prepared enough to know what to do next. And such proactiveness is deeply anchored through their sales processes, across the stages in the sales cycle. Proactive leaders make sales resilience happen. Since they are never paralyzed by a set back, they keep their people focused on what’s next. On enabling their businesses to bounce forward into a new normal.

Proactively Preparing for Negotiations builds resilience

Sales negotiations are notorious for taking unexpected turns. So, is there any point preparing for them? Sales champions will however tell you that playing by the ear is not the best way to handle sales negotiations. A good resilience sales practice is to be proactive and prepare thoroughly in advance for negotiations. It is always best to go into a sales negotiations fully forearmed.

4 Important Areas for Proactive Preparation

Highly successful sales professionals are proactive in preparing for negotiations. Their preparation is around 4 important areas

(1) Analyse the Customer – Identify decision making patterns and sequences

(2) Analyse own offer – Components of offer, their value to Customer and relative cost to us. Points on which we have room to relax or extend concessions

(3) Analyse the most significant competitor – Do a SWOT with a difference for a realistic view of where you stand in relation to competition

(4) Arrive at tactics – Cover both tactics and counter tactics to plan for

Immediate and Tangible benefits of Good Homework

(i) You know in advance what and where you can concede and what will be a walk-away position. So, chances are that you will not give away too much.

(ii) You will be ‘surprise-proofed’ and not swayed by emotions.

Possible solution for the story situation – It might help Pragna to brainstorm with her team and prepare a comprehensive Negotiation Checklist (See Anchor Practice below)

Anchor practice: Before going into a negotiation, develop a comprehensive negotiation checklist specific to your requirements with detailed preparation points on all the above four areas on following lines:

(A) Outcomes of Negotiation meetings held so far – (i), (ii), (iii) …

(B) Upcoming meeting details

(C) Overall objectives for total negotiation

(D) Objectives of upcoming meeting

Available information and questions around

(1) Customer – (i) Master information (ii) Updates (iii) How best to use

(2) Our Offer – (i) Component elements (ii) Variable elements (iii) How much leeway available on value and cost? How much can we concede?

(3) Competitor’s offer or likely offer – (i) Strengths and opportunities to use the strengths (ii) Weaknesses and vulnerabilities leading to risks (iii) Possible risk mitigation plans

(4) Tactics – (i) Our tactics (ii) Buyer’s likely tactics and our possible response (iii) Overall, how do we sway discussions in our favour?

(5) Strategy for this meeting

(6) Outcome

(7) Next steps

Pause to reflect:  “Proactive leaders make sales resilience happen. Such proactiveness is deeply anchored through their sales processes, across the stages in the sales cycle..”

Action Question: “Go back to the last three wins and losses. How many of them came as a surprise? How can you get proactive to minimize possible surprises ahead?

Related Readings: Mercuri Insight Document on Are you well prepared for negotiations?

Takeaway Quote:  “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.” ― Stephen R. Covey

About the series:  This is the 72nd in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your #Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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