One of the key responsibilities of a manager should be to actively coach his or her team on important deals, on a regular basis. Deal coaching starts with an assessment of knowledge and position in the deal in order to build the insight required to negotiate a deal that both sides would be willing to accept. This assessment needs to highlight what is known and what is not known about the deal, and should help to formulate the questions to be asked to uncover the information that is still needed.
Coaching your sales team takes patience and persistence. It is easy to identify what coaching is NOT. Coaching is not telling, or taking over and doing, or delegating, or threatening.
Coaching is based on having sound knowledge of the business and a full understanding of the company processes and practices that the sales team is being asked to use.
Timing is an important aspect of deal coaching. Coaching attempted too early in the lifecycle of a deal can be discouraging. Coaching done too late in the lifecycle of a deal becomes all about the manager swooping in to ‘save’ the deal. Neither of these is particularly helpful and does not instil confidence in the salesperson, nor does it reinforce the use of the company’s accepted processes and practices.
Early in the lifecycle of an important deal, start the coaching process. In this post we will review coaching on the first concept of Strategic Negotiation - Consequences of No Agreement (CNA). Here we are thinking about ‘What happens to each side if there is no deal?’ For your side of the deal, look to ensure that the sales person has based the analysis on the current view of the deal and its connection to the company’s internal strategy. Has the impact been evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively? Have both short term and long term impacts been considered? Are they any positive impacts of not coming to an agreement?
Looking at the other side’s CNA, what evidence is there to indicate the other side’s preferred alternative to you if there is no deal? Has the analysis been developed from the perspective of the other side? Are there any positive reasons for not doing a deal with you? What decision criteria should they consider? Can hard costs be reasonably quantified? What is the potential impact of the soft costs? How well do the personal interests of the key buying influencers align with their alternative? Has the analysis been validated with the other side?
After reviewing the CNA analysis, consider how this analysis should be used. Comparing each side, which side do you think has more power, or is the pain for not coming to an agreement equal? Does your side have differentiated value – how/where are you better than the other side’s preferred alternative? Have the decision criteria been discussed, prioritized and validated with the key stakeholders? Have the strengths of their preferred alternative been identified? Can you neutralize these strengths? What additional validation and discovery questions need to be asked? What resources are needed internally to help with this negotiation? Is the deal compelling enough to warrant these resources?
Coaching early in the lifecycle of the deal, examining the CNA analysis carefully, will result in many questions that will need to be answered or addressed. If done early and done well, coaching can have a significant impact on the outcome of the deal.
Stay tuned to the next instalment where coaching on the second concept of Strategic Negotiation, Trades, will be reviewed.