Let’s face it, a presentation on sales negotiations isn’t usually the steamiest of topics. But when you are on the spot and having to enter a negotiation, it can feel very steamy indeed.
As it will be on Friday, May 4, during my presentation, “Sauna Diplomacy: In the Heat of Sales Negotiations.” A Philly Tech Week program, “Sauna Diplomacy,” is organized by Philly HUG, the Philadelphia HubSpot Group Meetup, which is sponsoring the event in collaboration with Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast.
“Sauna Diplomacy” is being held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Art+Crafts.Holding, 990 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.
Sauna Diplomacy is actually a “thing”—a remnant from the Cold War era when Finnish leaders would hold meetings with diplomats from other countries in saunas to negotiate – and there are parallels, or lessons, to be learned from the tactic when you are in the heat of a sales negotiation.
For example, going into a sauna and having a negotiation there, forces you into transparency. When everybody’s sweating, it’s pretty hard to put up a front in the heat.
After all, negotiation is defined as “discussion aimed at reaching an agreement.”
A discussion, or a negotiation, can’t happen if you’re hiding your cards to your chest. You must be transparent to build trust and understand the context of the problems and know what’s really going on.
Sales is really the connection between and a problem and a solution. Everything that happens in between is the job of the salesperson is to figure out what’s going to work best for this problem.
For example, when people think of saunas, they usually have one of two rooms in mind: traditional Finnish sauna or infrared sauna. The traditional Finnish sauna is often found in health clubs, hotels, and day spas, as well as many homes, and it has the rock filled heater over which water can be ladled to adjust the humidity to the bather’s preference. In the last two-to-three decades, infrared saunas have gained popularity for their low temperatures with penetrating heat and their ease of installation. Many people also enjoy the quick heating of the infrared saunas for a pre-workout warm-up or to ease muscle tightness and tension at their convenience.
A sauna can deliver just what a customer is looking for, but only if the salesperson is asking enough of the right questions to know what kind of problem someone is hoping a sauna can help with.
In other words, selling is about helping.
And whether you are selling saunas, sippy cups or Subarus, there is a process that can help your salespeople meet their quotas. It includes making sure you understand the buyer’s journey and designing your sales process according to those critical steps. So that from the moment you start the process, you are starting a sales negotiation.
Everyone thinks that sales negotiation as something that happens toward the end of a discussion. But negotiation is really the process of the whole discussion and conversation. If you look at the sales process and the buying process, from the moment you say hello, you’ve started a discussion around a particular subject or item.
As you go through the process—the heat of sales negotiations—make sure to cover the steps that are important, again with that themes of openness and transparency. In a lot of negotiations, things can get steamy. Maybe someone raises a point that hadn’t been discussed before or throws you a curveball that you weren’t expecting.
What do you do? Try to backtrack? Or do you continue to be transparent and respond, “I don’t hear that question a lot. Can you tell me more about that?” or “Why do you ask?”
Negotiation isn’t about you getting what you want, but it’s about trying to empathize with where someone else is coming from and developing a solution together.