Why Sellers Should Negotiate

why_sellers_should_negotiateA recent stat from CSO Insights noted that 68% of companies are planning to add salespeople, and it typically takes 6-9 months to get them onboarded. Hiring is often a seemingly complex process with lots of ways to assess mutual fit. But when it all gets done, there’s one final question we need to be prepared to answer: Should we expect sellers to negotiate?

The answer, “of course, yes.” Why? Because – quite frankly – it’s their job. But according to an executive recruiter I know, only 20% of job seekers actually negotiate their offer letters. And I validated that stat with a seasoned Chief People Officer at a rapidly growing technology company. Yep – that figure might even be low, she says.

So, for those sales leaders who are still contemplating the rationale and hoping to fast-cycle the hiring process in early next year, here’s why you should pause and pay attention:

  1. It’s their “personal case study” – when you are exploring a candidate, you are expecting them to come into role and earn more business for you. Most sales leaders should expect to learn a tremendous amount about their potential hires and HOW they will actually sell for you. This is your opportunity to see it first-hand. Do they approach the conversation in a collaborative way? Do they try to understand the underlying rationale, or just move from point to point? Are they too firm in the asks? Are the asks reasonable? And, at the end of the day, do both sides walk away feeling fulfilled? It also provides the last opportunity for you to double down and get your candidate, or walk away and cut your losses.
  2. It’s in their DNA (or should be!)– we often talk of sellers as being from one of two camps: hunters or farmers. They both negotiate in their own way, but it’s a matter of where in the process that “negotiation” happens and what they might negotiate. A hunter might go for more commission or territory; a farmer might want more base salary or incidentals. But at the end of the day, a real seller will want more, because well, that’s who they are. If they don’t negotiate, see item #1 and ask yourself if they’re really going to be able to sell.
  3. There’s only so much you can learn in Discovery – successful sellers will be able to learn a great deal in the courting process, however they won’t be able to learn everything. At Symmetrics Group, the vast majority of our selling skills work focuses on either better Discovery up front, improved negotiation or both. Good sellers will ask good questions, but they’ll also know where there may be potential hurdles and try to mitigate problems or minimize their risk. Maybe they’ll ask for more territory. Maybe it’s guarantees as they first get going. Perhaps it’s about access to senior leadership. But seeing where they push and where they ask, can give you insight into how they will operate.

It’s the start of a new year, and you’ll need to get hiring. Good luck.

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