If you don’t know how to negotiate, you won’t make a profit, right? You’ll just be giving things away. If you don’t negotiate well, you’re essentially giving away your paycheck and company profit. But because the western world is so unaccustomed to negotiating every single day, they struggle to close. In this special episode swap, Paul Watts has a conversation with Jeb Blount about the MLP strategy. This episode is packed with information you can use to become a better negotiator—don’t miss it!
Paul Watts is a sales performance coach with over 20 years of sales experience. He also runs a podcast called Sales Reinvented. His mission is to change the negative perception of salespeople with a vision to create a world where selling is a profession to be proud of.
Jeb Blount is the CEO of Sales Gravy and a Sales Acceleration Specialist. He’s a best-selling author and most recently penned: INKED: The Ultimate Guide to Powerful Closing and Sales Negotiation Tactics that Unlock YES and Seal the Deal. Jeb is a world-renowned keynote speaker and the host of the Sales Gravy Podcast.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:33] Episode swap with Sales Reinvented
- [1:43] Who is Jeb Blount?
- [2:26] Jeb’s definition of negotiation
- [3:27] Negotiation = the precursor to profit
- [4:35] Why salespeople find negotiation uncomfortable
- [6:44] How Jeb prepares for a high-stakes negotiation
- [11:23] Emotional discipline is paramount to success
- [14:40] The MLP Strategy (motivation, leverage, and power)
- [18:38] Important negotiation dos and don’ts
- [21:55] Jeb’s eye-opening negotiation story
Why salespeople find negotiation uncomfortable
Negotiation can often feel like conflict. When it isn’t a cultural norm, it can feel uncomfortable— like you’re being rejected. If you’re a competitive person, you don’t want to lose. Negotiation seems to become a zero-sum game with clear winners and losers.
If you’re in the UK, US, or Canada, you don’t negotiate—you pay the price on a can of soup, right? We don’t normally negotiate for everything. Because negotiating isn’t a part of most people’s everyday lives, no one is good at it—nor do they like it.
Jeb also points out that there’s a lot of stigma surrounding negotiating. Have you ever tried to haggle or negotiate for a simple everyday purchase? You were likely met with surprise, shock, and perhaps even contempt. You also likely walked away from the situation embarrassed.
Are you coming from a position of weakness?
Salespeople often feel like they walk into a negotiation in a weaker position. The buyer is the one that has the upper hand because they have alternatives to your solution. The buyer is in control of the situation, and the salesperson may be coming across as needy.
Buyers—more often than not—also have negotiation training under their belts. Most salespeople aren’t properly trained on how to negotiate. If by some luck they have some training, it’s usually from someone who doesn’t have sales experience. Most procurement people are professionally trained negotiators who know what they’re doing and take advantage of that fact.
How does Jeb Blount prepare for a high-stakes negotiation? Why is emotional discipline paramount to negotiation success? Listen to find out!
The MLP Strategy (motivation, leverage, and power)
The main strategy that Jeb teaches in Inked is the MLP strategy (Motivation, Leverage, and Power). It’s the heart of sales negotiation. You can’t separate the sales process from the negotiation. You’re building a relationship—which you must protect. The key strategy is motivation, leverage, and power.
You have to get the stakeholder motivated to want to do business with you. They need to trust you and believe you’re the only person that can solve their problems. The experience the buying group has with you is the most consistent predictor of outcome—more than any other variable.
But motivation works at the individual level. Motivation is the inverse of power. So if you have a highly motivated stakeholder group, they have less power. But if they perceive that they have more alternatives, they believe they have more power when negotiating. If they can buy your product at ten other places at the same price, why would they go with you?
Your imperative is to increase the motivation while decreasing the perception that they have alternatives. You do that through selling skills and building a business case. The problem that you face is that—in almost all cases—you walk in holding a weaker position.
So you must use leverage to bend the buying process back to your sales process. You engineer motivation by building relationships with people over time. You walk them through the discovery process and learn more about them, so when you present your business case, you’re able to reduce the perception that they have alternatives which increases the possibility they’ll do business with you.
It increases your power position, so you’ll have an opportunity to win for your team—AKA do your job. There is no magic strategy or thing to say that will make everything “be okay.” You have to work the process from beginning to end. Only then can you negotiate effectively.
Important negotiation dos and don’ts
Jeb notes that the first thing you should do when you sit down to negotiate is listen—don’t talk. Don’t immediately pitch why they should work with you. Instead, ask questions and listen. Get all of their concerns on the table before presenting your case.
He emphasizes that you need to forget about win-win. Your job is to win for your team. Your job is to get the best deal for your company possible. Don’t walk into every deal thinking you’ll get a win-win. That’s where your commission check curls up to die.
Jeb isn’t talking about being a complete jerk or being arrogant. You have to win and protect the relationship and think about the long-term consequences. Maybe you will give things away because the opportunity down the road will be bigger for you. A win-win attitude often means you equate winning to the customer being happy. They aren’t walking in looking for a win-win—they want a win for their team. You need to see it the same way.
Lastly, Jeb recommends that everyone does scenario-planning before you walk into any negotiation. If the buyer were to ask you to give up something, how would you handle it? In the process, think about where your limits are and where there are non-monetary things you can give away that hold value for the other party.
To learn more about the MLP strategy, listen to the full episode!
Resources & People Mentioned
Connect with Paul Watts
Connect with Jeb Blount
Connect With Mark
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- Connect with Mark on LinkedIn
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- Connect on Instagram: @NegotiationPod