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Mastering Sales Negotiation Skills with Kim Orlesky, Ep #124 

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Mastering sales negotiation skills can mean the difference between landing a client or losing a client. It is a subtle push, an understanding of the client that differentiates you and your product or service from everyone else. Closing a sale used to mean sitting in a boardroom until a deal was accomplished. Now, sales professionals are forced to be more creative. We no longer live in a world of black-and-white and each potential client wants a unique deal catered to them.

My guest today, Kim Orlesky, knows the tactics and sales negotiation skills it takes to close deals while also building career-long relationships with clients. She was in corporate sales for over 10 years and is now the President of KO Advantage Group, selling high-value services in a B2B environment. Join us in this episode to learn negotiation skills and tactics from the unique perspective of a sales expert.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:33] Negotiation from a sales perspective with Kim Orlesky
  • [4:24] Learn to go the extra mile and understand your client
  • [8:30] The difference between consultative selling and selling
  • [10:35] The importance of asking the right kinds of questions
  • [12:16] You are not born with the ability to sell—it is learned
  • [18:01] What has changed in the world of sales negotiation
  • [22:42] View emotional intelligence as a skill you can develop
  • [24:12] When a lost deal is a blessing in disguise

Go the extra mile by understanding your client

According to Kim, If you begin a meeting with a prospect by asking “What is it going to take to make you sign this agreement today?” it shows you haven’t done your research. Nothing is cut-and-dry anymore—you don’t have to use the take it or leave it approach. Instead, there must be a focus on collaboration with your client.

This begins by understanding who they are and how to connect with them on a human level. If your offer isn’t catered to them, they’ll lose interest. Don’t be afraid to read through their LinkedIn profile and find points of connection between the two of you. Ask a lot of questions, because who knows the client better than themselves? Avoid asking questions that render a yes or no answer but focus on questions that give you open-ended replies that can facilitate further conversation.

The client needs to know that you will take care of them and that they can trust you beyond that moment. For them to believe that you must nurture the relationship as you go. If you go the extra mile and do your due diligence to understand the client’s wants and needs you put yourself further ahead than competitors.

Salespeople are not born—sales negotiation skills can be learned

There is a fallacy that people have bought into that skilled salespeople are born—that they were gifted with an inherent ability to sell. Kim says “It’s not a matter of “you have it or you don’t” but that sales is a skill that takes practice to master just like anything else. You aren’t born with the ability to play a musical instrument without instruction. You don’t become a professional athlete without years of practice and dedication. It’s the same with sales negotiation skills.

It does require pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to learn and practice new tactics. Because the same old way you always did things won’t be how you sell moving forward. You have to be willing to be fluid and try new things. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you have the mindset that you know it all. You must approach learning with “Shoshin”—a Zen Buddhist concept that simply means “a beginner’s mind”—and be open and eager.

Don’t be afraid to talk price

Kim was taught early on in her sales career that talking about price with a client early in the first meeting was taboo. You were to sell the client on the value, the ROI, and what the product or service would do for the business. Only then could you unveil the price and “watch the client fall back in their chair in amazement”. This old way of doing things is no longer valid and no longer appreciated.

Research shows that 6 out of 10 clients want to have a conversation about price during their very first meeting. You can’t be afraid—or unprepared—to talk numbers. It’s just a piece of information like any other topic you’d cover. Kim recommends that instead of hiding the price, you must anchor it high and bring yourself down. You share your proposed price and then go on to focus on the benefits, the value, and the ROI.

Kim believes that doing it this way helps “lift the weight”. You must consistently ask, “How does that sound?” and “How does that feel?” and connect your prospects to the ROI through the conversation. The price becomes more comfortable and their focus is on the value of what’s being offered, not the sticker price associated with it.

When a lost deal is a blessing in disguise

Sales negotiation—like any other negotiation—doesn’t always go as planned and deals will fall through. Kim points out that sometimes this is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, the best course of action isn’t doing whatever it takes to win the business, but letting it go. Saying yes to a client who isn’t ideal is a bad win that you don’t want to be saddled with.

You must always make sure you and the client are the right fit for each other. A bad deal is worse than no deal. Kim recently spent a lot of time with a potential client trying to make a deal work, but after several long and in-depth meetings, she felt as though they weren’t moving forward. The client-to-be wasn’t clear on what she wanted from the collaboration. She couldn’t answer how the investment in what Kim was selling would help her be more successful.

Kim knew that if she couldn’t perceive and articulate the value that was being offered her, she would not appreciate the partnership. She refuses to move forward in a relationship with a client if they don’t make it meaningful or have the intrinsic motivation to achieve lasting change. Working with her would’ve been a mistake, and Kim is grateful she didn’t get saddled with the client.

Resources & People Mentioned

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