Recently I did some Negotiation work with a client and it reminded me of common issues that come out during the negotiation process between b2b sales people and customers or prospects.
I call these the barriers to customer cooperation which are rooted in the negotiation world, yet, are present in almost any area where cooperation is needed to be successful.
So, let’s explore the five barriers to cooperation…
Five Barriers to Customer Cooperation
Usually this is related to your reaction to a situation or person rather than a customer reaction – yet – a customer base reaction can easier become a barrier. However, since you are responsible for your actions let’s limit this discussion to your reaction. Facial expressions, out bursts, assigning blame, or acting arrogant can severely limit the success of customer cooperation. Be aware of all your reactions – it is the quick and thoughtless leading to troublesome encounters with customer that move the relationship to a status of EX-customer more often than we desire.
When an individual is having a bad day, has low self esteem, or is quick to anger – the emotions of the moment overrule calm and cool and quickly take the relationship into an adversarial type of situation. Recognize that personal agendas may be present in any situation needing cooperation. When emotional issues enter the door rational thought and cooperation are at risk. As a rule, never attack or make it personal. Recognize the emotional element – even allowing the person to vent if necessary and show understanding rather than total agreement – and move toward the goal of win-win agreement and cooperation.
This is related to a pre-existed state or desired position on the part of the customer or prospect. There is a position to reach or be maintained that has been determined as acceptable – without your input, guidance or agreement. It is your task to anticipate the position to be taken by the customer or prospect, have questions to verify their position, and then a series of questions to uncover a better solution which allows for self-discovery of the better solution.
Based upon some level of experience or lack of trust, this one can become more emotional if issues are ignored or downplayed by you. Acknowledge the issues and look for ways to improve or solve the issues and how to move forward. What will it take?, is a good question in this situation to find the route cause of the dissatisfaction as well as the possible main source of the dissatisfaction. There is no easy way to move forward when someone is in the dissatisfaction mode as you must find common ground of acceptance before any attempt to move on to other issues or opportunities.
Power or politics – either could be the title with the same definition or meaning. Power usually means it is only politically correct to make sure I am a happy camper and included in the process or my position is accepted by you and others before any progress can be made. Look for people with who possess personal power to assist you in dealing with a power issue. Most of the time it is all about someone saving face in a negotiation or cooperative setting – particularly if their power effectiveness is challenged due to the cooperation. Recognize the needs of those in power. Find the people with the most personal power to assist in direction and cooperation and in most cases base communication. Be aware than position power or title power may not be true power sources and your goal is to find the real source of power or is it strictly a need to save face during negotiations in order to look good to others?
Knowing how these five barriers can impact your success in both negotiations and gaining cooperative agreements with customers or prospects to start or complete a project are important to your overall success in b2b sales. Be prepared to use this information with all levels of a prospect organization as you move though the sales and buying processes – including the implementation of products or services and the gathering of data for calculating ROI.