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Donald Kelly’s Platinum Rule of Sales Negotiations, Ep #399

Donald Kelly

How do you find out what a buyer likes, needs, and wants from the outcome of a sale? How do you get to the root of the problem? Once you discover their core need, how do you guide them through the sales negotiation process? “Sales Evangelist,” author, and podcast host Donald Kelly joins me in this episode of Negotiations Ninja to tackle these questions. By the end, you’ll have a greater understanding and framework you can use to master sales negotiations.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:11] Learn more about Donald Kelly
  • [3:07] Seek first to understand
  • [8:17] Can you probe too much?
  • [10:46] Separating urgency and importance
  • [14:16] Creating a mutual action plan
  • [18:45] Why some deals fail to convert
  • [24:28] The importance of a good relationship
  • [27:13] Learn about Donald’s book, “Sell it like a Mango”

The platinum rule: Seek first to understand

Let’s say you get an inbound lead that sounds excited about what you have to offer. Many salespeople circumvent the process and start to make assumptions at this point. Overconfidence—or incompetence—leads to you bypassing this process and diving into features and benefits.

You need to find the buyer’s challenge and speak to that. Then, you can take a deep dive into what you deem cool or important rather than what the prospect needs.

If you’re selling computers, you might think someone wants one because it’s fast, sleek, and will look good. But the buyer’s issue is actually that their computers got hacked by malware, and they’re spending too much on IT costs to maintain their systems. They want to find a better way to be more productive.

How asking “why” gets you to the root problem

The buyer won’t tell you their issues right out of the gate. Buyers don’t want to air their dirty laundry immediately. So you can’t bite on the first things they say and ignore the root issues.

Some buyers don’t even know or realize the root issue until an experienced seller helps them dig deep and find those answers. You can’t skip over the pain when you ask “why” 3-5 times, the real issues surface. But can you probe too much?

Donald spoke with a client who runs an organization that she’s been growing on the side. She needed help creating a sales process because she had nothing in place. But once he started asking “why,” he learned that her true goal was to double the revenue of her organization. She wanted it to grow into something lasting and providing a long-term impact.

He knew what he needed at that point but said, “Tell me a little bit more.” Donald likes to ask the “Why now?” question. Why would making a change with a new product or service be impactful now? What’s the impact if they don’t make a decision? After 1–2 follow-up questions, you get to the reason that brings out emotions.

If you’re selling a complex service or product, the depth of your questions will likely be more significant. If you’re selling a simple product or service and you think you’ve gotten the information you need to move forward, move forward.

Separating urgency and importance

The key here is that you need to highlight the pain and pleasure someone may feel if they make a decision. It makes them focus on the long-term impact on the business. It addresses both urgency and importance.

Instead of asking, “Is this urgent?” you could ask, “When do you need to make a decision?” and “When does the solution need to be in place?” You want to separate urgency and importance. They’re not the same thing. If you’re selling something complex that takes time to implement, you need to know when it needs to be done to make sure there’s enough time to implement.

Salespeople are usually experts in their field. You need to understand that your buyers are likely ignorant about purchasing whatever you’re selling. They may not grasp the nuances.

It’s your job as the guide to give them the insights needed to understand the timeframe properly to execute and move forward in the sales process.

In this episode, Donald shares other wonderful tips to help you navigate the sales negotiation process. Don’t miss it!

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