Posts belonging to Category Business Practices

The Next One that Talks Loses!

None of us want to admit that we have  been out-negotiated!  But it happens often.  We know that you need the sale, but this very important post will discuss an important tactic, and reduce the chances that you get the wrong end of the deal.  You are your company’s negotiator, and your reputation is at stake.  Be prepared!


Your prospective customer calls you to meet in order to discuss your product and whether your organizations can do business.  She sounds excited and you sense that this might be the precursor to a good sale.

After you arrive, after some warm-up, you get to the gist of the negotiations.  She wants better payment terms and this is a big issue.  You have been instructed that your organization is ‘losing’ on payment terms, obviously not collecting soon enough, and you know your bounds.

The negotiations go like this:

Customer: “This could be a deal breaker.”

You: “We can offer four (6) equal monthly payments with a 25% deposit.”

Customer: “We would like twelve (8) equal monthly payments with a 10% deposit.” She continues, “If we don’t get that, we may have to consider remaining with our current vendor.”

You: “I think we can get some movement here.  I spoke to my people, and we can reduce our deposit to 15%, but our installments will remain at 6 equal.”

Customer: (Twists her face and does not respond)

You: “We are a good fit for you.  I will see if there is any way that we can move to the longer term.”  After a moment on the cell phone, you respond, “We have a deal! 15% deposit and 8 equal payments.”

You shake hands and head off into the sunset.  You should not be smiling, as you were thoroughly out-negotiated!


One of the roles of a sales professional is that of negotiator.  It is not a role that you occupy all of the time, but one of tasks that must be done is to finalize, which includes pricing and terms.

Negotiating is a good thing as normally if there are negotiations, there is some acceptance of the product and the relationship.  The problem is most often when a customer goes silent, many in sales give up their bargaining range to get them to talk!  That is what happened in this situation.

Silence is Golden – For the Silent One!

We can learn something from this customer that is priceless:

Most sales professionals are uncomfortable with silence!

Those who are anxious to please, and needing a sale, often give up their negotiating room without ever getting a “no”.   They move to the customer’s position, or very close to it based on silence, or in this situation, silence and the customer’s expressions.

Now, as sales professionals like to talk, I stress that we need to pay respect to those who have learned that silence, by itself, crushes many sales negotiation strategies, and you don’t want it to happen to you.

The facial expression is an example of a ‘flinch’.  The flinch with, or without silence causes many sales professionals to begin to surrender their negotiation room.  A flinch can be a facial expression, upper body movement combined with a drastic facial expression, or even reaching for one’s chest or head ‘in amazement’.

Seemingly indicating that one is aghast (shocked and amazed) that the offer is so bad or lacking, has impact.  What it does is to move someone closer to giving up his or her margin.  Don’t be out negotiated.

I know what you are thinking, “It’s not my money!”  Well it is your money!  Closing the deal with the best terms is what you were hired for.  Be ethical and effective in doing it and there will always be a job for you.  Also, think of what happens when you, the sales professional, give up everything that you have to offer, then have to deal with the client next year.  They will be expecting your ‘cave-in’ again, and you may not have any room to ‘cave’.

Silence by Any Other Name…

It goes without saying in this electronic age that silence has many faces:

  • Not responding to a voice mail
  • Not responding to emails or written correspondence

Here is a real life example:

I once had a position that required that I purchase personal computers for a training operation.  We needed 12 computers and I negotiated for them and was not excited with the price.  It was not that the price was high; it was that the resources were short, so I went to “beg” my funding sources for more resources to get the products.

I indicated that we needed to consummate the deal by Friday, and because of an illness in the family I had not responded by the proceeding Thursday.  On Thursday afternoon, my assistant handed me a message from the rep cutting the price significantly.   About the same time, I received a call indicating that we had the additional funds to make the purchase.

The sales representative reduced the price without me ever saying ‘No’!  I wonder if his boss knows?

A Good Suggestion

I think the best suggestion that I could give you is to take a good negotiation course.  All sales professionals should take a good negotiation course that also focuses on the ethical nature of negotiating.  There are many out there, and they are worth their weight in gold.  No different than the customer, you should be prepared to use silence as one of the tools in your tool box as well.

Your non-work life will benefit as well as there are few tasks that have as much value making sure you get the right deal.

We will cover some more negotiation techniques here in this journal, yet a course is the way to go.  You will thank me for the suggestion, as there is nothing that will make you more effective and efficient after you have done the heavy lifting like cleanly and clearly negotiating the terms.

Be effective and efficient.

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The Bright Line of Business Ethics: Are You on the Right Side?

Changing Perceptions

Always conduct yourself ethically and conduct yourself as if someone is always watching, because they are!  Separate yourself  from the rest of the professionals.  Always, always do the right thing! Are You on the right side of this bright line?


A few years ago I received a call from someone selling promotional items.

The call went like this:  “Mr. Parker this is Jim Carr from Midwest Promotional Products (I have changed the name).  When we last spoke, you advised me to call you back this October to discuss our organization providing you with some of your branded items for the upcoming year…”

I will stop here for a moment.  I knew right away that my organization did a great job of providing promotional items, and that was the only source that we used.  The fact is, that the opening line from this sales person was an simple unadulterated lie.

I responded, “Mr. Carr, I don’t remember having talked to you.  I would not have asked you to call me back as we are not in the market for branded material.  We buy from a central source within our organization.” He responded with lie number two, “Maybe it was not you but one of your managers that I talked to that referred me to you.  I just wanted to share with you our line of…”

I quickly dispatched of the call for one simple reason…if this sales ‘professional’ was going to start off this conversation with two lies and misrepresentations, when was the third going to happen?

Sales ethics is lacking overall in many  industries, and you have the ability to make sure that you do your part to make the sale profession ethical and honorable.   If you sell a product or a service, you must recognize the importance of ethics in your ability to not only have longevity in this fine occupation, but also to be successful and prosperous.   In the example above, the rep only needed to say that he wanted to find out my interest in his product.  Sales professionals consistently used that approach with me and got an audience.

The Bright Line of Ethics

Note an important fact: The distinction between ethical and unethical will appear as a ‘bright line’ once you internalize your desire to act ethically in all situations.

This rep did what was akin to attempting to ‘sneak through the back door’.  I would want to start a relationship with someone who would so quickly and comfortably start out with a lie.  This may not seem to be large, but think about it,

Ethics: The principles of conduct governing an individual or group (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

The need for ethics in sales is real, and will set you, as sales professional, apart from those who fail to recognize its importance.  Even more, it will allow you to sleep at night.

You will look to be fair, equitable, and transparent when you work with a customer.   Avoid exaggerations and untruths and communicate well, following up with correspondence.

Once you are there, the ‘smell test’ will become part of your quick review.  Once you internalize ethics, you will become sensitized to how everything affects not just the customer, but also all other parties (your employer included).  At that point you recognize that you work for an organization, but also are an advocate for your customer.  The customer has no other voice.  There is no doubt who pays you, but we need to make sure that your customers are treated ethically. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer, and articulate the situation to your organization.  If you were the customer you would want to be working with professionals who you have credibility, trustworthiness, and a desire to do right even when no one is looking.

Ask yourself these important questions:

These questions are simple but the impact is huge.

Even When No One is Looking!

I was once riding in a company vehicle with a sales rep and the customer to a business lunch in the Chicago area.  We were coming to a toll both and the rep reached into a bag and grabs a coin, which he deposited in the automatic toll basket and we were allowed to proceed.  At that time the toll was 25 cents.  On the way back from the successful lunch, he did the same.  As he did it, I looked at the bag, which must have had 200 or more coins and inquired as to how he got that many quarters.  He indicated that they were not quarters, but after a recent trip to Mexico he had a bag of centavos that were essentially worthless here.

Remember, this is in front of the customer.  Our customer heard him admit to using worthless foreign coins in the toll basket.  If you were the customer, how would you feel about this reps credibility?  What would you think about the organization that you were doing business with as you witnessed him doing it in front of his manager?

We had to terminate the rep (I refuse to call him a sales professional).  Let’s look at it from an employer’s view.  This unethical individual did the following:

  • Sullied his image and the organization’s image in front of the customer creating doubt as to our ethics and credibility
  • Engaged in a civil wrong which might have carried criminal penalties as well
  • Committed expense fraud as he also received reimbursement for fraudulent expenses

I contacted the customer as I introduced the new sales rep.  I apologized for the fact that our representative did what he did, and explained that I had someone who was solid who would take care of him.  The customer said the following to me, “I really wondered about what organization would allow its employee to cheat like that.  I liked [him] but realized that I did not know him well enough to trust him.”  The customer was watching my response as much as he was watching the actions of the rep.

Rise Above It All!

As a Black sales professional you should demonstrate sound solid ethics, and be the advocate of the customer in making sure that your organization is fair with the customer.  With a sound ethics ‘compass’ you will be able to ‘feel’ whether what you are doing meets the ethics tests.

This stance and advocacy will help create the strongest of relationships.  Don’t miss the chance to do it.  It is a responsibility that may test you, but will also strengthen you and your relationship.

Be consistently ethical and you will be the best.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at