Archive for the ‘negotiation’

Dealmaker Index Example Report

The Dealmaker Index has been running now since early November 2011 and we have been learning a lot from all of the participants. Here is sample report so that you can see the kind of information you can get if you participate in this free study. The report comes in four parts: Summary Infographic, Executive Summary, Detailed Analysis and Personal Dealmaker Index Report. The Executive Summary and Detailed Analysis components each relate to the company Dealmaker Index score, and the Personal Dealmaker Index Report is tailored to the individual who completed the study.

Summary Infographic

Dealmaker Index - Sample Report Header

The infographic is a quick summary or dashboard of the results for each participant and their company.  On the left you can see the results for the participant’s company, starting with their Dealmaker Index overall score. In this example, the company scored well, and was graded at 77%, placing them in the High performers category.  This is an absolute score.  Below that Sample Co received 70% on the Peer Group Relative Performance scale. This means 30% of the peer group who participated in the study scored better. Immediately below that are the four sub-indices that together make up the overall Dealmaker Index score. As you may know, we measure sales velocity (i.e. the amount of revenue achieved per day) by more factors; the average deal Value, the Number of qualified opportunities, the Win Rate of those opportunities and the Sales Cycle.  The four sub-indices measured here, represents how well the participant’s company performs against the elements that determine whether they are optimizing their performance in each of these areas.

On the right hand side of the graphic are the absolute and relative personal Dealmaker Index scores for the individual who participated in the Dealmaker Index study.  Jane Smith did really well (89%), and is classified as a Dealmaker Ace.  Consequently she is at the top of her peer group.

You can participate in the Dealmaker Index Global Sales Benchmark Study yourself for free here.

Executive Summary

Based on the data provided, Sample Company has an overall Dealmaker Index of 77% which places the company in the High Performer category of participants in the Dealmaker Index study.

  • Dealmaker Value Index: 76%
  • Dealmaker Number Index: 76%
  • Dealmaker Win Rate Index: 75%
  • Dealmaker Sales Cycle Index: 80%

The level of revenue that is generated by any company in any sales period is a function of the number of deals or qualified sales opportunities that are being worked; the value of each sales opportunity; the percentage of those deals that are closed; and the inverse of the length of the sales cycle.

In the case of Sample Company, based solely on the information provided, the analysis of the attributes that contribute to the performance across each of the sub-indices provided the following insight. The initial analysis here is supplemented by detailed analysis later in the report.

Many factors influence the effectiveness of your sales organization, or the sales velocity you can achieve. If you can increase your performance in each of the metrics above the line by just 10%, i.e. grow the number of deals, the average value per deal, and the percentage close rate by 10%, and decrease the length of the sales cycle by 10%, you will increase your sales effectiveness by 48%. That’s equivalent to increasing your number of sales representatives by half, without making one additional sales hire.

Dealmaker Value Index: Value optimization doesn’t appear to be a major problem for your company. This of course means that you need to close fewer opportunities to achieve your revenue goal, and it is likely that the profitability of your deals is pretty good. Bear in mind – I’m making this assessment based on the information you provided me. Check that real differentiation is being well articulated consistently – particularly in a competitive situation. Look for avenues of expanded value offering to further optimize the return from each customer. [Minimal revenue increase potential]

Dealmaker Number Index: Based on the information you have provided, you’re better that average at finding good opportunities. Stay on it. Make sure the value you articulate is mapped to the buyer’s needs. Develop and replicate refined qualification processes. Shorten the ramp-up time for your new sales hires by incorporating – in an optimized sales process – the ‘best practices’ that are working. Look to the detailed analysis later to see areas where you might improve further. [Minimal revenue increase potential.]

Dealmaker Win Rate Index: The company would appear to have ingrained ‘closing’ behaviors, practices, and departmental interrelationships that support above average close ratios. Your company’s score – based solely on the information you provided – place you well above average for your ability to close deals. Make sure that the factors that govern this performance are further institutionalized in your company. [Minimal revenue increase potential.]

Dealmaker Sales Cycle Index: Now is the time to institutionalize the best practices you have developed to manage the length of your sales cycle. It would appear that your company’s performance in this area is quite a bit better than average. Make sure you have a living sales methodology, a buyer-centric sales process – all supported by technology to maintain your above average performance in this area – and facilitate continuous improvement. This will keep you at the top of the pyramid. [Minimal revenue increase potential.]

First Action: 5 Key Areas to Focus On: Keep, Change, or Stop

KEEP: I’m pleased to see that you have a well defined sales process. Hopefully it reflects the customer’s buying process. Our experience, and that of our customers, would suggest that having a well defined sales process, mapped to the customer’s buying process, and then executing well on the process, is a powerful accelerant to any company’s progress. Stay on it.

STOP: As the saying goes – companies don’t buy, people buy. Failing to gain access to key influencers in a deal is definitely one of the main reasons why deals are lost – and unfortunately it seems your company has some work to do here. You’ve said you’re not effective at gaining access. First, you need to identify who the real influencers are; and then consider things from their perspective. If you were in their shoes, why would you spend the time? Usually senior executives – who are often the key influencers – will only take a meeting if someone in their internal organization asks them to. The second key most likely to open the door is a referral from someone in their industry, perhaps a peer at a similar company. Unless you figure out how to gain access your win rate will definitely be sub-optimal.

KEEP: You’ve said that you are confident that your sales team is good at uncovering the customer’s business problem. That’s really good, and the alternative is not pretty. As you know, without understanding the customer’s business problem, there is no way you can know the value your offering will provide, or indeed even how to apply your solution to solving the problem. Then it becomes a feature or price battle, and that’s an abyss that, thankfully, you seem to be able to avoid.

KEEP: It’s evident from your input that you’re comfortable that the sales team is effective at differentiating against the competition. You seem to have this in hand, but is possibly worth revisiting the factors that would get in the way of this being untrue. There can be only three reasons for a sales team to fail this effectiveness test. (1) You don’t understand the Unique Business Value (See above) you provide, (2) You don’t know your competition – a grievous sin, or (3) You can’t position competitively. You have to be competent in the first two before you address the third. One more thing – I’m assuming that you understand the specific problem the customer is trying to solve (See above) because without that any effort spent on competitive differentiation is a waste of time.

KEEP: Our research suggests that sales people spend on average two and a half hours a week on sales forecasting. Yes, that’s right -150 selling minutes. And then the deals that are forecasted don’t close as forecasted. Thankfully you’re bucking the trend. That is really valuable to your company, as the alternative is one of the most damaging aspects of some sales teams’ behavior. You’re probably aware that there are evidence based sales forecast tools available, and you might be already using one. As you know you will achieve much greater sales forecast accuracy if the team follows a well defined sales process – one that is designed to map to the customer’s buying process (See above). Good work.

You can participate in the Dealmaker Index Global Sales Benchmark Study yourself for free here.

Detailed Analysis

Strategic Alignment
It’s good that you think that sales and company strategies are aligned. Selling against the corporate direction is hard, but it doesn’t seem like that is the case here. ~ It would be better if there was enough evidence for you to be clear that the sales and marketing functions worked well together. You’re saying you’re not sure about that. Sales and marketing alignment is crucial. Think of it this way: You’re supposed to be working together to beat the competition. Get everyone behind that goal with a shared purpose and common resolve. ~It’s good to see that you believe that the leadership of your company looks for strategic input from the sales organization. This is one up for the good guys. Nothing happens until someone sells something. The sales function is strategic, and so must be part of the overall strategic picture. Make sure those who need to know this, actually know this, and always consider what is going to ease the buyer (your customer) / seller (your sales organization) relationship. ~ When a company’s culture encourages support of the sales organization, it usually means that the focus is right on target. Congratulations, you’re in a good place, as it seems that the sales function is getting the support it needs. The sales team needs to hold up its end of the bargain and make sure that reciprocal respect is forthcoming.

Sales Process Analysis
I’m pleased to see that you have a well defined sales process. Hopefully it reflects the customer’s buying process. Our experience, and that of our customers, would suggest that having a well defined sales process, mapped to the customer’s buying process, and then executing well on the process, is a powerful accelerant to any company’s progress. Stay on it. ~ Read again what I said earlier regarding the importance of a well defined sales process. I’m pleased to see that you believe that your sales process is well understood and executed by the sales team? Assuming it is a well defined process – one that is mapped to your customer’s buying process – then you’re optimizing your chance of success. Well done. ~ Sometimes it is hard to get all of the company to understand that they are a critical cog in the sales machine, so I can understand why you’re uncertain about the ‘non-sales’ people’s understanding of their role in supporting the sales team’s execution of the sales process. Perhaps you might try this. Take out a piece of paper, or get to the white-board, and sketch out all of the touches a customer has with your company; this should cover how the phone gets answered when the customer calls; the product or service being used, the response time on queries; the stories in the press; your presence in the Social Universe, and so on. Then think about the steps in the sales cycle, and consider how each of these interactions might impact the execution of each step. That might help everyone understand the role they play. Understanding is usually the hardest part of this task. ~ Understanding sales process is fundamental. It’s as simple as that. The only long-term alternative is organizational pain. I’m glad that you recognize this. How can you arrive at the right destination if you don’t have a map? You’ve indicated that you think this is a Very Important competency for your company. I’d probably like to see it in the Essential category.

Sales Velocity
It is very positive that you feel good about the sales team’s ability to effectively qualify opportunities. I remember a wise experienced sales professional asking me one time why I was working on unqualified opportunities, when I could be making money. It is good that the team is focused on the latter. Continue to make sure that the definition of a qualified opportunity is clear to everyone and that the sales team has the skills, and inclination, to ask the hard qualifying questions. ~ You’re not confident that your sales close ratio is satisfactory. You need to ask yourself three questions. What is the underlying cause? What is the impact? What can you do to improve it? And then perhaps consider how you define win rate. Close ratio is one of the four main factors in the Sales Velocity Equation and a critical component of profitability. It costs real money (and of course time) to pursue each deal, and when you’re not achieving an acceptable win rate, both revenue and profitability suffer. There are really only two reasons why you ever lose a deal; (1) You shouldn’t have been in the deal in the first place – in other words you did not qualify correctly, and perhaps your offering is not suitable. See comments above on qualification. (2) This was a qualified opportunity, but you were outsold. Think about it and consider whether your sales process is truly aligned to the customer’s buying process, and whether the sales team has the right supporting tools to present the right value proposition to the customer at each stage in the buying cycle. Only then will you be able to guide the sale in the direction you need, thereby increasing your win rate. ~Being comfortable with the sales cycle duration is a very healthy indicator. You said that you think the sales cycle is about the length you think it should be. This is one of the fundamental factors in the Sales Velocity Equation, and a strong predictor of success.

You’ve been non-committal in your assessment as to whether your company is effective at maximizing the potential from your major accounts, or maybe you’re just unsure, or you don’t think it is applicable. If your major accounts are indeed ‘major’ then you can’t do this on your own, and you need corporate level buy in, and sustained commitment. Major account development takes time before it provides the return, and there is no point in trying to develop major accounts unless your company has the infrastructure, inclination and ability to apply the necessary resources to make it work.

Coaching and Getting the Basics Right
The first line sales management job is really difficult. But it is also particularly important. Managers should most of their time coaching. The answer you selected would suggest that this is the case. There is abundant research that supports the fact that sales teams who are frequently coached will dramatically over perform those who don’t receiving that kind of guidance. If the managers are spending their time chasing details of sales opportunities, there is very little value added to the sales person. Make sure that your company continues to do what it takes to make this embedded practice in your company. ~ It was Albert Einstein who said – never stop questioning. He might not have known it at the time but he was articulating one of the key commandments of the sales profession. Alongside listening and presentation skills, these are really basic skills that every salesperson should master. You’ve indicated that you’re pretty happy with this, and that is great. The good news is that if competencies begin to slip, this is one area that is pretty easy to fix. Keep up the good work. ~Efficient utilization of company resources is always important. You are in the happy position where you believe that the company efficiently allocates resources to well qualified opportunities. This means that resources are applied to the ‘most-deserving’ opportunities, and investments that you would like to see in other supporting functions, such as product development, marketing or support, are not being wasted. The sales organization should care deeply about this. ~ It is always healthy to retain an adequate focus on the basic skills. I am pleased that you view Level 1 Individual Selling Skills as Very Important. These skills are foundational. ~ Demonstrable Level 2 Selling Skills (Gaining Executive Access, Discovery, and Understanding Customer Needs etc.) are some of the most common skill deficits that lead to missed revenue. Recognizing the importance of this is crucial, and I’m pleased to see that you share this perception. Now, just be sure that your program to embed these skills is sustained.

Social Media
Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, company blogs, YouTube video channels, self-service capabilities on the Internet like Dealmaker Genius and Dealmaker Index, and community sites are examples of just some of the facilities in the Social Universe being used by your customers, and your competitors – and it’s not just for consumer focused businesses. If your company is not really leveraging social media it is undoubtedly developing a competitive disadvantage for itself. Not all social channels need to be used, but to use an off-line analogy, this is where your customers are ‘hanging-out’. This is an increasingly important destination for your customers, and it’s where they are increasingly having conversations. If you’re not part of the conversation, then it is less likely that you will be the person they call when a business opportunity arises. It’s that simple.

Keeping Customers
You’re not ready to say that your customer retention rate is satisfactory, and that is a concern for me. Customer retention is an issue you must address if you’re to pursue a sustainable growth strategy, or even if you just need to achieve a healthy profit margin. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, customer retention is not usually a result of price pressure or product features or capability. More often customers switch to an alternative supplier because they are unhappy with the service being provided. Now armed with that knowledge, what actions can you take to improve your customer retention rates? ~ You must be pleased that your company understands that effectively developing and maintaining long term customer relationships is the key to achieving an optimum renewal rate for your recurring business. You’ve said that you believe renewal rates are satisfactory. Keep effectively communicating with your customers and continue to elevate the renewal conversations to a business level, demonstrating the true benefits of renewing from a customerÆs perspective.

Competitive Differentiation
Differentiation is key. There is just so much noise out there. And clearly your company has figured it out. You said that your sales team finds it easy to differentiate your offering. While everyone else is talking about USPs or Unique Selling Proposition, your team is more likely thinking in terms of a Unique Buying Proposition, or a Unique Business Value, or they might call it a Unique Value Proposition. In any case, you’ve figured out that it should be considered from the buyer’s perspective. That works. ~ As the saying goes – companies don’t buy, people buy. Failing to gain access to key influencers in a deal is definitely one of the main reasons why deals are lost – and unfortunately it seems your company has some work to do here. You’ve said you’re not effective at gaining access. First, you need to identify who the real influencers are; and then consider things from their perspective. If you were in their shoes, why would you spend the time? Usually senior executives – who are often the key influencers – will only take a meeting if someone in their internal organization asks them to. The second key most likely to open the door is a referral from someone in their industry, perhaps a peer at a similar company. Unless you figure out how to gain access your win rate will definitely be sub-optimal. ~ You’ve said that you are confident that your sales team is good at uncovering the customer’s business problem. That’s really good, and the alternative is not pretty. As you know, without understanding the customer’s business problem, there is no way you can know the value your offering will provide, or indeed even how to apply your solution to solving the problem. Then it becomes a feature or price battle, and that’s an abyss that, thankfully, you seem to be able to avoid.

Your company clearly understands that the key to crafting solutions aligned with the customer’s need is to first understand the customer’s business problem. (See above) You’ve indicated that the sales organization is good at designing solutions. This is a very valuable asset in your company. To ensure that you maximize this advantage, you might consider using collaborative techniques with the customer to ascertain specific, and I mean very specific, features or attributes of your product/solution/offering that can be applied to solve very specific aspects of the customer’s problem. I know you would never do this, but the temptation is often to pitch your entire solution to solve the customer’s entire problem, and that approach rarely provides adequate insight for the customer as to how you bring real differential advantage. ~ It’s evident from your input that you’re comfortable that the sales team is effective at differentiating against the competition. You seem to have this in hand, but is possibly worth revisiting the factors that would get in the way of this being untrue. There can be only three reasons for a sales team to fail this effectiveness test. (1) You don’t understand the Unique Business Value (See above) you provide, (2) You don’t know your competition – a grievous sin, or (3) You can’t position competitively. You have to be competent in the first two before you address the third. One more thing – I’m assuming that you understand the specific problem the customer is trying to solve (See above) because without that any effort spent on competitive differentiation is a waste of time. ~ Harking back to an earlier comment, we know how important it is to be able to effectively describe the value that you can bring to a customer. You’re clearly comfortable enough to say that this is something that your sales team can do well. That’s not as common as you think – so, well done. Many organizations struggle with this. I’d strongly recommend that you maintain a deep focus on this. Here’s what I would suggest. Go to your CEO, Head of Product Development, or Head of Marketing, and ask them a question in two parts. Firstly – would your customers care if your company went out of business? Next – what is it about the products or service you offer that they would miss most? If the answer to the first question is no, then you’ve got a bigger problem than I can help you with here; but if it’s not, then the answer to the second question should be illuminating.

Sales Methodology & CRM
Most sales methodologies are poorly implemented, the training books gathering dust on the shelf. One of the ways to address this problem is to tightly integrate the sales methodology into your CRM System. When I say tightly integrate, I mean surfacing the methodology in context when the deal is being worked. I don’t mean just adding the fields to the CRM or adding a ‘dumb’ (read not intelligent) data entry form. The integration should be smart enough to identify for you vulnerabilities in the deal, acting like a sales coach always there to help while proactively offering suggestions. You say that your sales methodology is effectively integrated with your CRM. Does the integration provide you with all of these benefits? If not, it is a missed opportunity (pun intended). ~

You can refer to them as Key Accounts, Strategic Accounts, or Major Accounts, or whatever you want; but when a company is successful at penetrating large accounts, it is usually because they’ve followed a structured account planning methodology. Based on the level of importance you’ve assigned to this competency, you’ve clearly identified this. But, as you know, Key Account Planning and Management is not for every company, or sales person, as it requires significant resources and a certain type of business model or level of product maturity. Make sure that this is the optimum time for your company to allocate resources in this area, or if other areas should receive your focus. ~ It’s a positive statement that you’ve selected a sales methodology. I’m not going to comment here on the usage levels of the methodology in your company, as I want you to step back with me for a second and make sure that we’re setting the bar high enough. Implementing a sales methodology is not a trivial initiative. It is expensive to do and expensive to sustain. But when it is done well (an all too infrequent occurrence) it can deliver dramatic benefits. Here are a few principles to consider: Don’t think that a tactical sales training event will have a strategic impact on your business; Do give your sales team the credit that they deserve – they do want to apply sales methodology to be more successful, it’s just that in many cases in the past it’s just been too hard to do; Don’t waste your money on sales methodology/sales training unless you’re prepared to set quantifiable business results that you want to achieve; Do measure yourself against those goals; Give adequate time to consider the role that technology has to play in sustaining the effectiveness of your sales methodology. Recent developments in this area are very exciting.

As your business develops you might give some thought to the strategic nature of the CRM, and examine whether your current CRM system approach will get you to where you need to be. Consider the reason why you purchased the CRM in the first place. Less than one in five CRM installation succeed in driving revenue for the customer. When intelligent sales process, sales methodology and CRM are well integrated, significant revenue advances occur. As you probably know, there have been considerable advances in CRM capabilities in recent years – particularly in respect of integration capabilities. Make sure you are taking full advantage. ~ Now that you’ve had the CRM in place for more than five years, you’ve had the opportunity to get all of the best practices embedded, and, in terms or organizational effort, there are really no excuses for a sub-optimal implementation.

Revenue Performance Management
Our research suggests that sales people spend on average two and a half hours a week on sales forecasting. Yes, that’s right -150 selling minutes. And then the deals that are forecasted don’t close as forecasted. Thankfully you’re bucking the trend. That is really valuable to your company, as the alternative is one of the most damaging aspects of some sales teams’ behavior. You’re probably aware that there are evidence based sales forecast tools available, and you might be already using one. As you know you will achieve much greater sales forecast accuracy if the team follows a well defined sales process – one that is designed to map to the customer’s buying process (See above). Good work. ~ Congratulations on the fact that you have and use a clearly defined process for managing your sales forecast. If you don’t have a defined process, then any degree of accuracy you achieve is pure chance and down to the individuals who are the component parts of the rolled-up sales forecast. The subjectivity inherent in that approach is your enemy. It is not an approach you can trust, and it’s certainly not an approach that can scale if your business grows. Stay true to the discipline. It will serve you well.

I’m not sure I even know why I asked this question – but there were many that disagreed. It defies me to understand how a company could operate in today’s fast moving world if sales forecasting is not at the heart of the business. You strongly agreed with the statement ‘Our sales forecast is a critical component of the overall business planning’. It just has to be. ~ There are a lot of myths around pipeline management. The most dangerous one is that bigger is always better. People talk about the need for 3x, or 5x, but in reality that rarely considers sales cycle duration or funnel velocity. One of the most important attributes of a pipeline is its integrity. The opportunities in the pipeline need to be real and active. That’s the only way for the pipeline to give an accurate picture of future business. Thankfully in your case, you agreed with the statement that the sales pipeline gives an accurate picture of future business. Continue with your pipeline management practices. Continue to qualify hard and clean out dead deals.

The hardest thing to deal with in business is a surprise. There are revelations, bluebirds and bombshells, but whatever the form, any surprise usually causes business disruption. When one materializes in the form of missed revenue, or inaccurate sales guidance, then the pain can be severe. You can end up with too much inventory on the shelves, too little stock in the stores, disgruntled shareholders, or dissatisfied customers; all because your sales forecast was inaccurate. And that’s without considering the productivity impact on the sales organization referenced elsewhere in this report. Clearly you understand this, and I’m thrilled to see that you think that a competency in sales forecasting is Essential. ~ While many companies’ financial quarters force measurement in four financial quarters, few customers’ buying cycles maintain a similar rhythm. Focus on this competency is all too rare, and you should be proud that it’s getting the attention that it is at your company. Maintaining a strong pipeline is the only way to constantly have enough deals in hand to avoid a sinusoidal revenue profile. Pipeline management can be a complex endeavor, but, as you know, it merits prioritized attention, as without it you end up in what feels like an almost circadian pattern of surprises. And you know what that means.

You can participate in the Dealmaker Index Global Sales Benchmark Study yourself for free here.

Personal Dealmaker Index Report

Based on what you’ve told me, I’ve calculated you have a Personal Dealmaker Index of 89%. I’ve assessed both your approach to sales and your execution ability, and you’re in the Dealmaker Ace category.

There are a number of elements that are factored into this analysis, but clearly there are some things that I have not been able to consider. I hope that as you review the analysis you will get some ideas that will prompt action and will help you increase your sales performance and reach your full potential.

Sales Engagement
You will generally make more progress and gain more insight talking to customers than in any other activity. I’m not entirely sure you are having enough customer meetings. Step away from the computer and call someone. ~ Analyzing why you won or lost a deal is possibly the most valuable insight you can get to what you should change (or keep) about your approach to a customer. How else can you uncover such deep market insight? If you’re doing it less than half of the time – you said 25-50% – you’re missing out on more than half of the insight. That’s not my recommended approach. ~ As you know, I’ve said before that a sales process is fundamental, and I’m glad to see that you’re on the same page. If you could nudge your application of this discipline from ‘Most of the time’ to ‘All of the time’ I believe you will see a noticeable difference in your results. ~ There is conclusive evidence that a referral from a peer is one of the most effective ways to gain access to busy executives, and get the chance to explore business opportunities. If you have delivered value to one customer and built up some credibility, then you’ve earned the right to ask for a referral. You say you are asking for referrals more than half of the time. If so, you know that this is one of your most valuable sources of leads and opportunities. Try to improve on the ratio. ~ You’ve selected ‘Needs Analysis’ as the most important stage of the sales cycle, and you are absolutely correct. Well done. Unless you can figure out what the customer really wants, all of the rest of the steps are less valuable. ~ I’m glad you selected ‘Needs Analysis’ as the most difficult stage in the sales cycle. Based on my experience it is the area where most sales people fail – and then everything else falls apart. In my opinion, Needs Analysis is both the most important and the most difficult. Getting behind the customer’s business problem is a skill very few have mastered.

Personal Perspective
So, you’ve figured out that in most cases customers will only buy from you when that is a best choice for them. Usually that means you need to be able to differentiate your product from your competitor’s offering. You’ve indicated that you’re pretty effective at this. It is always good to check that you are doing the best job you can here. Perhaps you might take the time to validate your perspective with your customers or colleagues. You may well learn something. ~ In a competitive situation most sales people fail. That is a mathematical certainty. Developing a competitive strategy for an opportunity means that you consider the people involved, the problems they have and the relative strength of your solution compared to your competitors’ – all in the context of the customer’s decision criteria. Most sales people don’t craft a competitive strategy, though – based on your input – I’m pleased to see that you are an exception. Keep it up. ~ You really only have control of two things; who you meet, and what you do when you meet them. It’s clear that you appreciate this. You’ve said that you’re always clear about what you want to achieve in advance of a meeting. That’s great. You might also think about considering why you might not achieve your call objectives, and develop a ‘Plan B’.

You have indicated that your negotiation skills are well developed. Make sure that you are not just negotiating at the ‘negotiation stage’ in the sales cycle. In truth, how you position your solution right through the sales cycle sets up the negotiation landscape. ~ As you know, you need to be having business conversations with business leaders if you are to be a successful sales professional. Based on your input it would appear that you know that this means you need to understand how to read an Income Statement, understand a company’s 10K filing, and look for strengths and weaknesses in a Balance Sheet. When executives want to discuss ROI, understanding the underlying fundamentals that the financial calculations are based on is the key. Perhaps you might check your skills level with your CFO or other executives. ~ Communication with your peers enriches the fabric of your knowledge – always. I’m glad that you understand that your success is tightly linked to how well you communicate with your peers. We all need help. ~ Your job as a sales person is to deliver value to your customer. At least that is my opinion. It’s the only way I know how to maintain long term relationships and build a personal business portfolio. Sometimes that requires tough love. I take it from your answer that you’re in agreement with that. I’m pleased to see that. It underpins the integrity of the relationship.

Leveraging Infrastructure and Systems
You seem to have a healthy relationship with your CRM. It is not always fun, but effectively used it should help you to better manage your personal business. ~ There is a direct correlation between consistent usage of a (good) methodology and revenue performance. You seem to be on the right track here. ~ LinkedIn is a good source of networking insight. With the recent additional capability (following etc.) it can be a valuable resource. Your usage appears to be quite healthy. ~ Facebook has not yet penetrated the business world enough for it to deserve the same focus as LinkedIn. In my opinion, it has value in a pure social networking sense, but you need to manage the noise levels well. To get the ‘network benefit’ you probably need to participate a little more than you are currently doing I think. ~ If you’re looking for up to date information on what is happening in you marketplace, Twitter is the place to ‘hang out’. If you do nothing else except listen to the conversation it can be a truly valuable resource. You’ve recognized that, and that’s a plus. Remember the shelf life of a tweet is really short, so frequent visits are necessary.

You can participate in the Dealmaker Index Global Sales Benchmark Study yourself for free here.

The Anatomy of a Dealmaker: Part III – Are you a Dealmaker?

This is the final part in a 3-part series on how to become a Dealmaker. Dealmakers win more deals than their less schooled counterparts. In the first post Part I – The Sales Quadrant Profiler, I’ve tried to structure a model that might illuminate where you are starting from. This was followed by Part II – First Steps to Becoming a Dealmaker I where I described four key attributes that I consider essential for success.  Here, in this final part Part III – Are you a Dealmaker?, I want to help you self-assess how you measure up to where you know you should be. I set our 20 basic attributes or proficiencies that you might evaluate from your own perspective to see what you might improve.

I hope you find this blog series useful.  As ever, I’d welcome your feedback.

- o – o – o -

When two people want to do business together, the details of the deal won’t hold them apart. Getting your customer into that frame of mind happens only when you have done your homework and shown yourself to be a true value creator. If you are selling to professionals, you must be a professional. If you are selling to C-level executives, you must act like one – you must create value for your customer.

I have identified 20 basic distinctive factors that, when put together, seem to represent what is best about the best. It is surely not an exhaustive list, but perhaps it’s a good place to start.

These factors encompass industry knowledge for the chosen sector, proficiency in value based selling skills, incorporating product knowledge and application of the product to the customer’s business problem, understanding the customer perspective, and above all, personal attributes of the sales professional. Attention to the principles outlined here will help – whether you are evaluating your own performance, interviewing candidates to hire or helping a fellow sales person develop a self-improvement plan.

It’s up to you to take it from here. We know that 20 factors are a lot to go through, but stick with it – it will be worth it! Review these attributes and consider how well they describe your competencies or attitude. Then score yourself. Honesty counts and pays off. The exercise should help you to identify any areas of weakness in your sales proficiency and will provide a framework for a self-improvement plan. For sales management, review these points for new hires and decide for yourself what score they need for a pass grade.

Value Based Selling

1.     Ability to express value clearly

2.     Understand why you win deals

3.     Ask for referrals (not a testimonial)

4.     Follow a defined sales process

5.     Ask why you lost the deal

6.     Pursue only well-qualified leads

7.     Be able to differentiate against each major competitor

8.     Have a plan to address most common objections

Customer Perspective

9.     Be a trusted advisor

10.   Engage comfortably at the most senior level

11.   Act as a customer advocate

12.   Understand the customer’s business

Industry Knowledge

13.   Know industry influencers

14.   Join industry networking groups

15.   Strength of personal Network

Personal Attributes

16.   Listening and questioning

17.   Effective communication and presentation skills

18.   Motivated and confident

19.   Negotiation skills

20.   Business and analytical skills


Value Based Selling

Until value (and pain) exists in the mind of a customer, any price is too high. Therefore, you must:

1.   Be able to express value clearly: You need to be able to articulate clearly the value of your complete product or service offering in terms the customer understands and values. “I have a pill that cures your headache.” This assumes you understand the cause of the headache, and that your solution is the morphine to cure the pain. Sometimes, it is useful to ask your existing customers to explain to you why they bought your product. Or ask them what they would tell their counterparts in other companies if asked about your offering. Then craft your own message, test and refine it, and keep it up-to-date.

2.   Understand why you win deals: People rarely buy from people they don’t like, but the reasons customers buy are many and varied. To repeat success, it is important to understand the reason for your success. Rigorous analysis of sales wins helps you to identify those elements of your offering that take the cover off your customer’s signing pen. What were the ‘hot buttons’ the customer cared about? Was price a factor? What was your competitive advantage? Did the customer buy because of product features, your company’s market position, or just your outstanding selling skills? This analysis helps you to play to your strengths and to refine the profile of your ideal opportunity. It guides you to further opportunities within existing accounts. It helps you win more often.

3.   Ask for referrals (not a testimonial): Marketing departments in technology companies spend a lot of time and effort looking for ‘testimonials’ from existing customers to put on the website, in order to attract more prospects. And we all know such testimonials are hard to get. In a Fortune 100 company, it is often as difficult to navigate the layers of sign-off and authorization for a public statement as it was to get budget approval for the original deal. You should spend your time getting verbal referrals. A recommendation from an industry peer will do a lot to enhance your credibility and open doors faster than you could yourself. It will certainly be quicker than waiting for the testimonial on the website to generate quality leads. Pick your target account and then ask your existing customer if they know anyone in that company. Customers who have successful implementations of technology solutions like to recount their successes. It reflects well on them, and can accelerate your sales cycle dramatically. Now, ask yourself: “When did I last ask for a referral from one of my existing customers?”.

4.   Follow a defined sales process: Whether it’s The TAS Group’s methodology, or something else, you must have a plan, with a start, a middle and an end. To reach your revenue goal consistently, you must have many prospects at different stages in the sales pipeline at all times. You need to understand what stage of the buying cycle the customer is at, before you develop a plan to progress through the selling cycle. Customer selection, opportunity qualification, proposal, presentation, short-list, negotiation and contracts are all stages that typically take time, and each stage will deliver its own challenges and casualties. Think about it, make your assumptions, have a plan, test the assumptions and recalibrate, and then execute to the plan.

5.   Ask why you lost the deal: “But they’ll never tell me the truth!”. Well, our evidence suggests that, if you have been fair and honest with your potential customers, and have made a bona fide effort to address the requirements of the sale, you will be told the reason why you didn’t get the deal. If you have selected the customer well, and were truly qualified to win, then somewhere along the line you were outperformed by your competition. It’s better to know the reason than to skulk away with your tail between your legs. There will be more opportunities in that account, and learning from your mistakes will prepare you better for the next go-around. You will also learn about your competitors and the customer’s view of their strengths over yours. Knowledge about your adversary will equip you with additional intelligence for other competitive situations. Overcome the natural inclination to wallow in the disappointment and don’t allow yourself to sink to denigrating the customer for making the wrong decision. Make the call and learn from the experience.

6.   Pursue only well-qualified leads: Your time is limited. In a complex selling situation, you need to spend considerable time orchestrating resources, developing relationships, gaining access at multiple layers in an organization, examining how your solution can be applied best to the customer’s business, determining how you can add value best, testing your hypothesis and refining and reworking the solution you are creating with the customer. There are only so many opportunities you can pursue properly at the same time. Qualify hard. Examine budgets, buying process, buyer access, project timeframe and decision-making process, and then decide whether you think you can win the deal and if it’s worth winning. Pick potential winners early and sort out the wheat from the chaff. Be ruthless in prioritizing where you spend your time. You must zone in on the good prospects and leave less attractive opportunities aside. Select customers and opportunities well, and then decide to do what it takes to win those deals.

7.   Be able to differentiate against each major competitor: We estimate that more than half of sales people underestimate their competition – or don’t research them adequately. You know who your major competitors are likely to be in most situations. Can you articulate clearly why the customer should buy from you rather than the bigger, established player? What advantages do you have over the new market entrant with the exciting new technology? What’s the customer’s perspective of the strengths of each of these competitors? If your company is smaller than that of your adversary, then perhaps you are more agile, flexible or responsive. If your competitor is the new kid on the block, then maybe you are the stable, safe, proven industry standard. Undoubtedly, there will be strengths and weaknesses for each player. You must know these and be prepared to position appropriately, depending on which competitors you are up against in a particular account. Never underestimate the competitor or belittle them to your customer. Be clear about how to express your value in the context of the competitive situation.

8.   Have a plan to address most common objections: Objections arise when a customer has concerns about your company or product, as they relate to the problem the customer is trying to solve. Objections are not spurious obstacles put in your way to test you. Objections should be addressed, not overcome. Recognize that there is a possibility that some prospects won’t raise all their objections, and you should use the questioning techniques, outlined later in the book, to uncover hidden concerns.
Consider the customer’s perspective. If your price is higher than expected, or greater than your competitor’s, then the customer has a real problem to deal with if he proceeds with purchasing your product. You must be prepared to help him address that problem, if you are to win the deal. Product feature concerns can often be addressed by understanding what benefit the customer is looking to achieve or what problem he is trying to solve. Consider how your company can overcome a deficit in the product by adding a service offering. That will suffice in some instances. At least, it shows that you understand the issue and are prepared to address it. Value selling will overcome minor price objections. “Yes, I agree with you that we are not the cheapest and here are the reasons why…” Embrace the buyer’s perspective and work with him to come up with a solution that addresses his concerns. Objections are concerns to be addressed, not obstacles to be overcome. Be aware of the most common concerns, and be ready to help.


Customer Perspective

To change the customer’s mind, you first have to get inside it. Therefore, you must:

9.   Be a trusted advisor: We referenced this point earlier, but it’s important and you need to constantly review your ‘trusted advisor’ status. It is not enough anymore to have an innovative product, superlative customer service, or a cost-effective solution. The bar has been raised dramatically and each of these items becomes a culling factor, rather than a differentiator. Your customers are bombarded every day by multiple vendors, possibly with solutions that are better, cheaper or faster. The customer is looking, however, not for a vendor, but for a partner, someone he can trust, can share the pain with, is knowledgeable and is in the relationship for the long term. In short, he is looking for someone he can trust to help him make the right decision for his business. He will treat his ‘trusted advisor’ almost as a part of his team, sharing concerns and uncertainties that will never be discussed with vendors. As a trusted advisor, you can help shape strategy, construct terms of reference for upcoming projects, and get to understand the real issues that customers care about. Trust is not transferable. You cannot be handed an account from a colleague and immediately assume the role of trusted advisor. It’s a rare and valuable position, and you need to build it, one truth at a time.

10. Engage comfortably at the most senior level: If you want to sell to executives, you have to act like one, read the same business and trade publications, attend the same conferences, and be professional in everything that you do. More importantly, however, to be comfortable as you interact with very senior executives in large corporations, you must believe in yourself and your ability to add real value to their situation. If you fundamentally believe that you can help, and that belief is not based on blind faith or groundless assumptions, then you have a right to be at the table – and you know it. With knowledge and hard work come experience, confidence (not arrogance), and mutual respect, and that’s the basis for a really strategic partnership with your customer.

11. Act as a customer advocate: It may require a change of mindset from the traditional view, but a Dealmaker acts as a campaigner to make sure his customer succeeds, having built internal relationships to expedite getting things done. Increasingly, successful organizations are creating cultures throughout their companies that inculcate a customer-centric perspective. At the front-line, customers expect you to be the primary contact and to be their advocate, promoting their interests, and sponsoring activities to optimize the successful application of your offering in their organization. Customer advocacy deepens relationships, and relegates price considerations to second or third place. As an advocate, you will always be proactive, anticipating needs, maintaining frequent contact with your customer, and acting as a bridge to your colleagues who participate in issue resolution.

12. Understand the customer’s business: What are the key metrics your customer uses to measure success? What’s the typical cost of customer acquisition in his industry? What are the growth challenges in the sector? Are there new disruptive technologies being introduced that present opportunities? What external factors impact on growth; regulatory, economic, demographic or social? What role does the Internet play in supply chain efficiencies or introduction of new competitors? In the hotel sector, it’s all about occupancy rates. For low-cost airlines, the strategic business imperative is operational efficiency. As online travel companies address the corporate sector, the return is directly linked to levels of adoption of their online booking tools. The customer acquisition cost for a typical wireless telecommunication company is about $400. A major challenge for healthcare giants is FDA regulatory compliance. How well do you understand the business drivers for your chosen niche? How does your product or solution solve the customer’s pain?


Industry Knowledge

Don’t be dependent just on what you know about your product or your customer. The state of their industry is the context for their decisions. Therefore, you must:

13. Know industry influencers: In the CRM business, companies read the newsletters published by Bob Thompson and Paul Greenberg. Looking for trends in Search Engines, consult Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineWatch. Beyond these ‘boutique influencers’, each sector is covered by analysts from organizations such as Forrester Research, Jupiter Research, IDC, or Gartner Group. Buyers look to these influencers to help them in the early stages of their purchasing decisions. You need to know who the influencers are for your specific sector, and understand their perspective on trends in your target industry. You must make sure they are briefed on your offering. Hopefully, you will find one that supports your perspective. If not, you need to be prepared when your potential customer asks you about the influencer’s viewpoint.

14. Join industry networking groups: The chances are your customers are actively involved in the local association for their industry. So too are your competitors. Generally it’s a place to learn and network, develop co-operative relationships with complementary vendors and relationships with potential customers, in an informal setting. The more progressive associations host dinners, functions and seminars, bringing in experts from all fields to help you gain more perspective on your customer’s business. You could get involved in the industry awards selection committee, which might recognize the best company in a specific part of your business. Where else would you get the opportunity to get such insight into the best players? Participate in special interest group meetings or networking dinner meetings, and other high visibility events, and you have a powerful competitive resource. The more you put into these types of associations, the more you get out.

15. Strength of personal Network: A Dealmaker has a wealth of personal industry contacts. These contacts have been cultivated over time, built through effective networking and strengthened through an experience of trust and mutual respect. Every relationship matters, and treating customers, competitors or colleagues with respect and integrity helps build your list of precious contacts. When you come across some valuable information, take some time to consider who in your contact base might value it. Pass it on and it’s likely they will reciprocate. A broad contact base enhances your ability to gain access to companies or individuals you don’t know, or gather information on a prospect or competitor.


Personal Attributes

In the end, it all comes down to the individual sales professional. People buy from people they like. People buy from professionals. Most of all, they buy from people they can trust. The following five attributes are fundamental to your success:

16. Listening and questioning: While most sales people have been trained to listen well, few have practiced deep listening skills and questioning methods. Dealmakers allow the customer to talk, and really listen to what the customer has to say rather than thinking about what to say next. They keep control of the conversation flow by having a structured questioning technique that is only fluid in its adapting to the scenario at hand. Effective selling involves preparation, and Dealmakers will have specific objectives documented for every meeting, and a set of questions designed to lead the customer to present the information required or come up with thoughts aligned to the seller’s goals.

17. Effective communication and presentation skills: There is an overwhelming correlation between strong, powerful and evocative communication and credibility, respect and success. A Dealmaker is an effective messenger whose verbal communications, presentations and proposals are informative, inclusive, inviting of comment, context-sensitive, substantive, and powerful. They confer respect and leadership attributes on the source. Dealmakers work to hone their communication skills – both written and verbal. They communicate concepts confidently and with impact, are remembered and acknowledged for their ideas, and are acclaimed as intelligent provocative leaders.

18. Motivated and confident: People lacking in motivation tend to avoid results-related chores because they tend to doubt their ability and believe that success is dependent on ‘who you know’ or on other factors outside of their control. They work with little drive or enthusiasm, because they don’t see the relationship between effort and results. Dealmakers are highly motivated, take on challenges and are driven to be in charge of whatever sales situation they find themselves in, taking ownership and responsibility for their sales quota. They believe in their ability to take control over their own destiny and success. You notice when a successful sales person enters the room: they have poise and presence and a confidence based on self-belief and lots of preparation. Confidence begets confidence and the Dealmaker induces calm in the mind of the buyer through his composure and firm but flexible determination to get the job done.

19. Negotiation skills: While mediocre sales people can often close deals, they frequently leave money on the table and allow profit margins to be eroded through ineffective negotiation. Selling and buying are two sides of the same coin, and successful negotiation requires that you understand the other party’s stated and unstated needs, their point of view and their ‘walk-away’ position. Great sales professionals will have practiced negotiation techniques, understand the structures of strategy and counter-strategy, how to satisfy needs by uncovering them and when to walk away. Negotiation requires clarification of assumptions – yours and theirs, and the ability to separate real interests from adopted positions. Remember as you sell, negotiation is often about negotiation of information.

20. Business and analytical skills: If you are selling to businesses, you have to understand how business works. When customers look for return on investment analysis for the total cost of implementing your product, you need to understand the elements of their business that contribute to their costs. There are as many reasons why people buy products as there are products, but it nearly always comes down to financial metrics. You need to understand the rules by which this game is played. Some companies are looking to increase revenue, others seek cost-reduction and short-term profits, while many have specific measures of ROI performance. You must have the ability to understand and analyze both the macro-economic factors that impact your customer’s industry, and the micro-economic elements that are the guide-rails for his specific investment in your product or service. You should question yourself as to how conversant you are with general business issues. Do you read BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and your local business paper? How comfortable are you with basic financial analysis? Now, you don’t need to know the minutiae of GAAP, Sarbanes-Oxley, or Higgs, but you should know what they mean and their impact on your customer. If you are selling to public companies, you should be able to read SEC filings and standard financial statements. To be a great salesperson, to be a Dealmaker, you first need to be a businessperson.

Y.A.H.O.O. – You (should) Always Have Other Options

The founders of Yahoo! are purported to have said, “You Always Have Other Options”. It might be one of those apocryphal stories – but it’s a good one. And there’s a great and salutary lesson here for sellers.  When you’re on the receiving end of procurement pressures, negotiation nightmares, or buyer bad behavior, it’s good to know that you always have other options.  Or do you?  Well that depends on what your pipeline looks like, how you’re doing so far in the quarter, and what value your product really brings to the customer.

Later in this post I’m going to address the pipeline issue, or rather the “how do I know if I’ve enough in my pipeline?” question. But first I’d like to consider why it’s always good to have other options.

When I wrote the Select Selling Sales Fieldbook back in 2004, I used an acronym called BATNA.  BATNA is a term coined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 bestseller, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In. It is the acronym for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It is your other option. Having a BATNA lets you know when to walk away from a negotiation without a deal. If the negotiation has arrived at that point where the deal on the table is less attractive than your alternative (your BATNA), you know that it is time to walk away. Your BATNA tells you when you should make that choice – it’s the yardstick against which you should measure any negotiated agreement.

Your BATNA is really the fulcrum on which the power of negotiation balances. If you are the preferred supplier to a customer, they have chosen you because you meet their needs better than any other vendor. If you walk away, they will lose something. Your BATNA is strong. Your negotiating position is strong. When the buyer has multiple vendors, who can offer similar products that don’t seem terribly differentiated, then the buyer’s BATNA is strong.

Sales executives sometimes feel that they don’t have a strong BATNA. They think their walk-away position is weak and that the buyer holds all of the cards. As quarter-end approaches, the buyer knows that you’re keen to get the deal done. But it probably doesn’t make a difference to him whether the purchase order is signed at the end of December, or in the middle of January. For you, the sales professional, the easiest way to have a strong BATNA is to not need the deal. A full pipeline helps you get to that position. A strong BATNA turns your need into a want. Yes, you would like to close the deal in the current quarter but, if the buyer knows that you don’t need it, your confident attitude will compel him to negotiate more reasonably to meet your interests.

What your sales pipeline should look like

So, let’s talk about your pipeline. You know that maintaining a strong sales pipeline, with enough qualified opportunities at each phase in the pipeline, is the only way to avoid the quarter-end crunch.  But how do you know when you’ve enough deals, at the right value, at the right stages in the funnel? Remember, your pipeline is a better predictor of the medium and long-term health of your business than your sales forecast – and they are two very different indicators.

Traditional approaches to setting the desired pipeline value usually went something like this. “We need 5x in the pipe.”  If that sounds too familiar to you, and that’s how you’re calculating your target pipeline value – then stop now.  It’s completely meaningless, and a complete waste of time.  It doesn’t account for your sales cycle. It pays no heed to your closure rates.  You need an algorithmic measure for each stage of the pipeline to determine whether you have enough opportunities at each stage. Consider the time to close, the probability of closure, and the target revenue to calculate the value you need.

Consider this graphic.

First things first.  The earliest you can close any opportunity that is in your pipeline is today, right?  And the further back up you go in the funnel, then the close date will typically be further out into the future.  In fact, if you take the fat part of the bell curve – for all your sales opportunities – you should have some predictability about how long it takes a deal to progress through each stage of the funnel.  Then, if you’ve a clear history of progression percentages from stage to stage, you can infer both a ‘time-to-close’ and a realistic ‘closure probability’ for each pipeline stage.  Now, if you know your average deal size (you do, don’t you), and you know your revenue target, you can figure out what the revenue target should be for a period equal to your average sales cycle, and hey presto! you can calculate what should be in each pipeline stage for you to hit your numbers.

(If this is a little hard to follow you can take a look at the video on the DealmakerMagic channel on YouTube, or call someone at The TAS Group.)

Make sure you always have other options

Negotiation is hard.  It’s good to want a deal to close in this quarter, but it not good to need it too.  The only way to avoid this is to have enough deals on the go, enough opportunities in your pipeline, and enough deals closed to place yourself in a position of strength.  I know this is much easier to say than do, but at least if you understand what you should have in pipeline, you will have an opportunity to understand early if you’re setting yourself up for a hard time.

And just two final points about pipeline management:

  1. Pipeline stages have no inherent value in terms of deal progression.  It’s only the customer related actions tied to each stage that gives meaning to the progression of deals through the pipeline. Clear deliverables (based on evidence of customer actions) must be linked to each stage.
  2. Deals that are inactive (have not been worked on for more than 60 days) should be cleared out of the sales funnel and sent back to marketing.  Otherwise you’re given a false sense of the value of your sales pipeline.

Just when you thought it was getting easy … :)

Negotiation: 3 Rules and 17 Questions

It all comes down to this. You’ve worked hard at becoming at honing your sales skills.  You’ve studied the trends in your target industry. You nearly know as much about your customer’s business as he does. Your value proposition is crystal clear. To maximize the return on your effort, you must negotiate well.At this time of the year, where many companies seek to maximize their year-end revenue, lots of deals are actively negotiated in the last weeks of December.  In many cases, sales people look to this time as their most active negotiation period.  However, when negotiation preparation begins only at that stage, much of the potential value of the negotiation is already wasted.  The most common mistake made in negotiation is that people fail to remember that negotiation starts from the very first interaction in the sales cycle.As with everything else, you must prepare fully as you negotiate.   Here are three rules I think are worth adhering to:
  • Rule #1: Craft your strategies and tactics to engage – for each stage of the selling cycle.
  • Rule #2: Listen actively.
  • Rule #3: Don’t confuse ‘positions’ with ‘interests’.

To succeed, you must negotiate in all dimensions, recognizing that you can control the scope and sequence of the negotiation events. Your BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement) is a powerful tool. Work hard to develop the best one you can. As you do, consider the buyer’s options, and work with him to reframe the negotiation. Focus on his interests and your goals rather than adopting negotiating positions. Listen actively to what the buyer says, and when you have addressed his issues, know when to gain a concession or commitment.

Use the following questions to assist in your preparation:

  1. What do you hope to achieve out of the negotiation?
  2. What’s your maximum plausible position?
  3. What’s an acceptable outcome?
  4. When do you ‘walk away’?
  5. What is your BATNA?
  6. How can you improve your BATNA?
  7. What type of negotiation do you expect: co-operative or combative?
  8. What are you willing to concede?
  9. What is the buyer’s BATNA?
  10. Who are the people that need to be involved on the other side?
  11. What are the issues they care most about?
  12. What are the business circumstances of the deal for the buyer?
  13. What’s the value to the buyer of completing the deal?
  14. How easy is it for the buyer to find a replacement deal?
  15. Can you document a list of unresolved issues?
  16. What are the logistics of the negotiation/closing?
  17. What emotional issues do you need to resolve for the buyer?

What else would you add to this list?

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