Sales, negotiation and leadership are three heavyweights that when mastered can make you a force in business to be reckoned with:
Be a story seller, not a product seller
In 2006, MasterCard rolled out its Christmas advert where people were patiently waiting for their loved ones at an airport arrival. Then the joy and excitement at seeing them when they came through the doors. The smiles, the hugs, the kisses. There was also an advert by Vodafone (2010) where a young woman had broken up with her boyfriend and called her dad as he was about to launch into a speech over his recent job promotion.
Upon receiving the call from his daughter, the speech had to wait; he dropped everything, jumped in a cab and went to her aid, staying on the phone with her all the way there.
Using MasterCard means you get home to your friends/family in time for Xmas. Priceless. Using Vodafone ensures you stay connected to people you love. The sale is in the story. The product is almost secondary. It’s the suggestion of what it allows you to do:
Show genuine interest in the customer
Place the focus on the customer. Make it about them, not your business. Make it about what your product/service can do for them, how it can be of benefit to them, how it’ll make them feel. Take out the ‘I’ or ‘we’ as much as possible in persuasive language used. Use ‘you’ instead to put the spotlight on them. The sale is important, of course. It’s business after all. But the potential customer is the potential sale so to speak, not the product. The more valued the customer feels, the more likely it’ll be that they’ll buy (into) what’s being sold. An example: Gym A boasts of being the best in the health and fitness industry. “We are No. 1. Join us.” it says. Gym B says “2013 is your year”. Gym A is talking about itself and it might very well be the best – who knows? Whilst Gym B is talking to the customer. Which one is more likely to attract customers, to connect with them – the one talking about itself or the one talking about the customer? Which one has imparted value to a passer-by regardless of whether it actually sells a product to that person or not? And by that, which one appears to have more of an interest in the person?
Be aware of your market
Study what the rates are for what you want to negotiate, or else you’re walking in blind and potentially giving leverage to the person you’re negotiating with.
Consider what your options are
Though you’re there to negotiate, you might not need to reach a deal as much as the other person because of your options.
For instance, if you’re negotiating with a supplier, your options might be that you already have a few other suppliers you’re in talks with and you have quotes from them. (You might also want to mention this to the other person so that they can offer you a better price).
It might be important for you to find out who the supplier’s competitors are (and how many) and how many clients they supply to. This might help you establish what their options are as they come to negotiate with you.
Know the most and the very least you’re willing to close a deal on
Establishing that in your mind beforehand means you can go in confidently knowing what to work towards, but also knowing when to call it a day should it come to that.
Talk can be motivating – very much so – and is one of the qualities of a leader. But leadership also involves taking action, execution, follow-through. For example, some politicians talk a good talk, but don’t quite have the action to back it up.
It compromises on trust and can make their colleagues and members of the public start to doubt their ability to do their job well. Implementation of one’s talk into action is what separates a leader from a great leader.
Brilliant leadership is about being transparent
Always reliable, inspiring people to do better and want to do better, fostering a sense of trust with people, being able to work well with them towards a common objective, and the whole team feeling empowered to reach it.
A leader isn’t beyond learning
Nor does one know absolutely everything there is to know, even with the level of experience he/she may have – neither is he/she incapable of making mistakes. An arrogant leader, a manager for example, is one who doesn’t accept that fact and suffers his/her employees for it.
This can develop into disdain amongst them, stale the working environment and in turn affect productivity. Putting your hands up and accepting that even the best of leaders make mistakes fosters respect.
This guest post was contributed by The Gap Partnership; global experts in business negotiation.