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Practical Negotiating: Tools, Tactics & Techniques by Tom Gosselin

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Conflict with Customers

Conflict in the arena of sales, and the relationship between the supplier and the customer, deserves special consideration. Most salespeople tend to think of themselves as good negotiators because they have numerous opportunities to negotiate with customers. In workshops with salespeople over the years, their classic dilemmas usually involve two questions:

1.When do I stop selling and start negotiating?
2.How do I avoid giving away too much to make the sale?

The answer to these questions is not simple. Throughout the sales cycle, the supplier and customer have different expectations. As the salesperson works to manage the expectations of the buyer, conflict often arises. Figure 1.1 shows the typical sales cycle.[2]

Figure 1.1. The Sales Cycle

Consider each of the boxes as a milestone in the sales process. Getting the customer’s attention requires expending marketing resources. Once the customer has enough interest in the product or service to spend some time exploring possibilities with a salesperson, we engage in selling. During the selling process (i.e., determining needs and presenting benefits), the salesperson and customer determine whether there is a good match between needs and product or service. The ideal outcome is a decision in favor of the supplier and a commitment to draw up a contract or agreement toward implementation.

Conflict arises ...

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