Tyler Gitou was having lunch with Kevin Del Clinchy, a salesman for a large software company.
“How is your deal with Great Works going so far?” Tyler asked. “Need any help with the negotiation strategy?”
Kevin shook his head. “No, we’re not there yet. We’re still in sales mode.”
Tyler laughed. “Wait, you’re engaged in the sales process but you’re not negotiating? How is that possible?”
Kevin shrugged. “Easy. I’m still selling right now, not negotiating. Once they say they want to go forward with the deal, then we’ll start negotiating.”
“I see,” Tyler said. “And how will they decide if they want to go forward?”
“Well, we have to show we can design the software to the specs they requested on their time table at a price that works for them,” Kevin said.
“So they say, ‘We want an enterprise license and all modules running six months from contract signing for no more than $1 million’ and you say ‘yes’ and you’re done?”
Kevin set down his fork. “No, of course not. We can’t just say ‘yes’ to everything they’ve asked for. We have to see what modules, how many sites can go live in six months and then set a price.”
Tyler smiled. “And then they say, ‘OK’?”
Kevin glared at Tyler. “Ty, you know how this works. We go back and forth on what we can do versus what the competitor can do and then they choose which software company they want. That’s selling.”
“Sounds to me like you’re negotiating,” Tyler said.
“OK, technically you could call it negotiating. But it’s really selling. I’m a sales guy, not a negotiator.”
“Not quite. You’re a negotiator who specializes in the sales process. Negotiation is just a label for many different processes and activities such as sales, diplomacy, collective bargaining or dispute resolution. Any activity that involves trying to influence a decision another person is going to make is a negotiation.”
“I think you’re taking this too far,” Kevin said. “Sales people are in sales. Our job is to get the customer to choose us instead of the competition because we have a better product or a cheaper price.”
“You mean that deciding to choose you will better meet their interests than choosing another product?”
“Exactly,” Kevin said.
“How do you get them to decide?”
“Share the data with them and see if we can… influence them to choose us.” Kevin smiled. “OK, I concede the point. I get it. Any process which requires one party to try and shape the other party’s decision making is a negotiation.”
“That’s right,” Tyler said. “Interestingly enough, the root of the word ‘negotiate’ is the Latin word for ‘business.’ The Romans knew that conducting business is just one big negotiation.”
The waitress laid the check for lunch on the table.
“So can I help you with the negotiation strategy?” Tyler asked.
Kevin picked up the check. “I hope you will. And I will pay for lunch as a small price for a valuable lesson about sales.”
“Great,” Tyler said. “That may be the most successful negotiation I have today!”