Negotiation and sales are separate sides of the same coin.
Stay with me, I’ll give you the context for that statement.
Lately I’ve been studying the art of negotiation. In the past month or so, I’ve read Chris Voss’s work Never Split the Difference and have gotten almost halfway through Jim Camp’s lost tapes. Many of the fine points of the art are deceptively difficult to make yourself do, and I am the first to admit that I am a long way from being close to getting them into place.
While I’ve always been one to use any conversation with any person as an excuse to practice my interrogation skills (yes, even in Instant Messaging apps, which some friends fall into without realising), I had never taken negotiation as seriously as I ought to have.
Sales, you see, is just negotiation by another name.
And negotiation is just interrogation by another name.
At the core, all three practices are about getting information.
Just yesterday, a person I know on Twitter was going on about sales, and how persuading someone to buy something tells you more about your product than anything else.
It might be true, if it weren’t for the fact that people don’t set out to get sold a car (as the sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer is wont to say).
Selling isn’t about persuading people to do anything. It’s about letting your adversary (as Jim Camp chivalrously calls them) educate himself or herself.
The way to do that is with questions. Questions, and a genuine desire to understand the context, heart, and environment of your adversary, are at the heart of all successful negotiations. Until you have the right information, all the persuasion and charm in the world isn’t going to help you get what you want.
It’s fascinating to me that these skills, which are so necessary in the world, are missing from your education unless you go looking for them.
Why aren’t you taught the art of negotiation in your earliest years of high school? It would make everything better: Friendships, navigating difficult and complex situations of all kinds (good and bad), as well as mundane things like getting out of doing the dishes or applying for a job.
As I sat opposite a potential prospect at a table this afternoon, I brought all of the skills, new and old, to bear on the situation. The result was that the person asked me for the product, and almost took me by surprise. (Proof that my negotiation skills need work!)
When I add this to the robust scheduling that’s in now place, and some other ways that we’re leveraging platforms to reach more people, it makes me feel extremely good about how Brutal Pixie is developing.
For a long time I put arbitrary boundaries on the company and my relationship to it. I followed all kinds of advice (good, bad, beautiful, and ugly). I’ve let a lot of those go. Some are still in experimental mode, so I can’t tell you about all of them just yet. But what I can tell you is that today, the last day of the month, Brutal Pixie is just $600 from its stretch sales target, a target that I lifted to double its volume barely three months ago.
So you might say it’s been a fabulous week.
Next week I’m going to go into the notion of living strategy, which is something that’s been on my mind lately.
Particularly since learning Jim Camp’s fundamental rule that:
A system has both principles and rules.
It’s been game-changing, but it’s a story for another day.