Mom had a high school education and was a full time homemaker and mother of six. She died at a young age and never saw me apply her business basics and power negotiation lessons.
My favorite business seminar came at age 13 when I learned about market research, procurement, negotiation and the power of cash at the St. Joe, Missouri Friday Night Auction. At my mother’s side, I watched the family Chief Procurement Officer, Mom, conduct consumer investigation data collection, pricing comparisons, and demonstrate self-control and extraordinary patience.
Business Rules from a Master Negotiator
- Market Research: Know the market. Mom was searching for a sofa for our formal living room. The fabric had to be durable to hold up to a family of eight. The formal living room was frequently used for visits from 16 first-cousins and numerous aunts and uncles.
- Conduct Needs Assessment: Mom wanted a sofa with classic lines and a useful life of at least 10-years. It also must fit into the living room and co-ordinate with other furnishings.
- Product Availability: While visiting all the local retail suppliers to examine their brands, sales people educated her about spotting quality furniture. Never shy, she asked lots of questions.
- Warranties and Product Reliability: She read the manufacturer’s guarantees and warranties and knew which manufacturers stood behind their product.
- Price Comparison: She compared retail store pricing while learning when stores took markdowns and conducted sales.
- Negotiate: Never Pay Retail: She knew how to track down bargains and shopped in second-hand stores before it was cool.
- Acceptance: After completing the research, Mom realized we couldn’t afford new furniture. Used it would be. The next stop was an auction house known for carrying home furnishings.
- Financial Considerations: Know your budget. Mom knew Cash Was King! As a cash buyer, she didn’t have to ask for payment terms or credit. Nor did she have to ask her husband’s permission to make a purchase. Mom was the Decision Maker and she carried cash.
- Stick to Your Budget: Mom practiced self-control and would not overspend.
- Patience: She was the queen of patience and did not allow us to see her feelings of discouragement at buying used furniture. She kept her “poker face’ with everyone at the auction. No one could read how much she lusted for the tan and black,custom-made sofa she spotted in her reconnaissance mission the day before the auction. Sitting beside her I sensed her excitement as “her” sofa came up for bid.
At the end of the night, mom, triumphant was the owner of a fabulous “almost new” modern sofa that was the envy of the neighborhood. And she had cash to spare in her purse.
Thanks Mom for that lifetime lesson. I only hope I can be half as good as you were in business.
New products are exciting. They give us a reason to call on current customers. We have an excuse to go see them. But what happens when you don’t have a new product to sell? How will your business survive? You picked the low hanging sales opportunities in 2013. What’s the magic for 2014?
What if I have to Go Back to the Basics of Selling?
Recently, I taught a workshop to customer service representatives at a software company. Selling commissions were 40% of the service rep’s income.
Their job included:
- Manage customer problems after software implementation and training.
- Build strong relationships with all customer contacts.
- Uncover new customer needs. Present solutions. Close the sales.
- Sell software license renewals.
In 2013, they had a new, exciting product to sell. Sales were phenomenal, easy and prior year company sales records were broken. The Sales and Service Management were trying to figure out how to hit 2014 goals.
They were looking for some new sales technique that was new. A Sales Silver Bullet.
SHOCKING NEWS: There is no Sales Silver Bullet.
For sales veterans this is when real selling expertise is required. It’s back to basics. What made you successful in the past will get you to your sales goals in 2014
Eight Rookie Reminders-Even if You’re a Veteran.
When you were new to sales, you placed a list of sales basic reminders near your telephone to keep you on track. There’s no time like to present to dust off the old list and use it to sharpen your sales tools once again.
1. Do your homework before going to see your customer.
a. What’s new at their company? How about new products or people. Anyone Fired?
b. Where’s their pain? No Pain, No Change.
c. What Challenges is their industry facing.
d. Has new legislation hurt them and if so, how?
e. Be sure you know how your service department has been treating them. Don’t walk in to find out they hate you and your service people.
2. Be Prepared. Listen to them. Stifle your brilliance. It is NOT about You.
3. Ask great questions. Remember open-ended questions begin with Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
4. Take good notes that you can decipher later. These will not only save you from a loss of memory, it may give you ammunition to close a sale.
5. Be the parrot. Repeat to them what you thought you heard. This technique confirms you understand not only what they said but what they meant. We’re still human and our memories play tricks on us.
6. Verbally summarize commitments and timeframes before leaving the customer’s office.
7. Send an email confirming commitments and a follow-up timeline with responsibilities clearly defined.
8. Meet all commitments in a timely manner.
The only Sales Silver Bullet is “Remember the Basics.” Success is ahead.
Have they been hit with new legislation that has impacted how they do business?
Thank goodness, we’re done with that lease negotiation stuff! The equipment is in and working great. “Stick those legal mumbo jumbo contract in a file drawer. Let’s get back to business and make some money.” That is often the command issued from the bridge by the Captain of the USS Hard Working Company.
There’s a sense of relief when an equipment purchase is complete. Business owners think nothing more needs to be done except make the lease payments. Believe that, and companies find ugly surprises. Leases require customer vigilance.
Five Lease Notification Requirements
1. Insurance Proof: If the Lessee does not send the Lessor an insurance binder proving that the leased equipment is covered by General Liability and Physical Damage insurance, the leasing company will secure the insurance for the Lessee, at a high price plus a fee.
2. Tax Exempt: Printing equipment lease payments are frequently sales and use tax exempt. State’s offer this exemption to encourage businesses to expand, add equipment and increase their employee headcount. Customers must send the leasing company proof that the equipment qualifies for the tax exemption or the leasing company collects and remits the taxes to the state. Some leasing companies add a processing fee.
3. Relocate Equipment: Request and receive written permission to move equipment across the room or to another town. Remember, the leasing company owns the equipment.
4. Corporate Ownership Changes: Notify the Lessor at least 30-days prior to any change in the company name, headquarters location or company ownership. If this is not done, the customer is in lease default. The default paragraph is the longest and most onerous paragraph in a lease. No company wants to pay the costs of a lease default.
5. End of Lease Notification: Notify the leasing company of your business plans for the equipment. Do not wait until the lease ends to give notice. This is one of the most costly requirements, If not heeded, the lease Automatically Renews.
WARNING: Lease end options usually include the ability to purchase, return or renew the equipment lease. A Florida printer I know is trapped paying twelve extra payments ($12,000) because they didn’t send the leasing company written notice of their intent to purchase the equipment for $1.00. The lease required them to send written notice no less than 90-days and no more than 120-days before the lease ended. Oops. Now that’s a budget blower.
SUMMARY: On the first day of a new lease, set up a lease management system to track all lease required notifications or be prepared to pay the price.