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Top 5

Be Kind to Your “Sales Guy”

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by Ian Watt

You’re in the middle of a major service provider selection. Everyone is pushing their agenda on you, and the “sales guy” wants to buy you dinner. Though it may seem counterintuitive in the rush of so much to do, let these Top 5 reasons remind you why it’s a good idea to be kind to your sales lead. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. You want a good deal. You thought that the sales guy from Company A is competing companies B and C. That is true, but it is only incidental to the fierce, daily competition that really matters: your sales guy against every other sales guy in Company A for resources, for legal time, for pricing favors… The “currency” that the sales guy has to “buy” these good things for your account is mostly provided by you. Show your professionalism, your focused strategic direction, your seriousness.  Your sales guy needs to be able to tell superiors, “This client is going to buy from someone, they have a clear and unbreakable process, there’s heavy competition, and I need the best we have to offer if we’re going to win this deal.”
  2. Top 5You want the “A” team on your account. Provider companies, like all companies, have great people, so-so people, and a few duds. You want the great people. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not just the size of your deal that matters. What matters is the company’s desire for a win in your field and – most importantly – how eager your sales guy is to call in all available markers and get the best for you.
  3. You need high quality bids, quickly. If you’ve shifted the schedule and stone-walled questions, you’ll surely get a lukewarm response from service providers. They’re feeling jerked around. You can say this isn’t your concern, you’re the client and thus always right. But you’re fighting human nature here, which has a long history of winning. Treat your service providers fairly; they’ll perform for you.
  4. You want a good price. When the pricing conversation happens, only your sales guy is representing you and your interests. He’ll be pushing for the discounts, the extras he hopes you will appreciate, the long-term price reductions. Or he won’t. Make him your ally.
  5. You want a sound agreement. When your sales guy and team are pushing back during negotiations, it seems even harder to be nice. However, they’re still the ones representing your interests internally; the deal you cut will have to go through legal, risk, and margin folks back at the mother ship. So be clear about your interests. Their team will be better able to secure them for you.

Keep to your schedule, make decisions on time, manage a transparent process, be serious. You’ll not only get the sales guys out of your office (and off your evening schedule), but you’ll get better results from your sourcing process. As they say, a little kindness goes a long way.

For more information about how to manage your selection process and relationships with potential service providers, contact the author at ian.watt@isg-one.com or +1 847 452 5897.

About the author

Ian works with companies around the world to optimize their strategy, strengthen their transactions and improve their transitions. He is comfortable and effective in unstable environments, bringing more than thirty years of direct experience to bear. He is a calm, experienced presence while managing and meeting client and team expectations, working effectively and efficiently even when desired outcomes are undefined or unstated. He currently specializes in high-risk transition activity and ADM transactions. He has wide-ranging experience with companies across many industries, including pharmaceutical, telecom, food service, media, energy, insurance, pension, and consulting. He has done significant work in the US, Europe and Asia.