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Trump’s Transactional Trap

Monday, 06 March 2017 13:02
6 03, 2017

Trump’s Transactional Trap


In the New Yorker last year, Tony Schwartz the ghostwriter for Donald J Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal said:

‘He lied strategically’

‘I put lipstick on a pig’

Rather than inviting more infighting than a Taiwanese parliament, let’s focus on the negotiation trap inherent in Trump’s behaviour.

Whether you’re for or against him, Trump’s negotiation tactics are more obvious than a bogey hanging out of your left nostril on a video conference call.

·  Huge ambit opening positions – if he wants $2.50, he asks for $1 Billion

·  Flattery – ‘You’re a good guy, a great guy, the best’

·  Bluster – ‘This is going to happen my way, it always does…believe me’

·  Anger (Feigned or real) ‘This deal is so bad, so wrong, you’re making me really mad’

·  Insult and intimidation ‘You’re a loser, you’re crooked, you are going down big time’

These tactics may or may not have worked but it’s fair to say that at best, they are transactional.

A deal can be done using these tactics as long as there is no genuine need for an ongoing relationship. The winner takes it all, the loser’s standing small. (Sorry, too much ABBA in adolescence)

Interestingly, a lot of people have asked me if I think Trump’s tactics are useful for them.

My short response is ‘If you plan on renewing that client, getting referrals or being treated as a trusted advisor for a while, then probably not’.

However, when I ask them if they’ve been subjected to these and other tactics from clients including senior managers and Procurement, they say ‘All the bloody time’.

Many sales managers and sales people are aware of these tactics being used against them, yet are so keen to get the deal that they succumb, subjecting their company to poor margins, ridiculous stress to meet deliverables and a culture of subservience.

Here’s what you can do to address the key tactics in Trump’s playlist:

Huge ambit opening positions: Plan your own positions, especially your walk away. Politely refuse to discuss offers outside that range. Get back to discussing what the client is trying to achieve

Flattery: Ring your bestie, your mum or ask your dog if he loves you mid lick. You don’t need approval and validation from clients.

Bluster: Ignore or say ‘thanks for sharing that, so let’s look more closely at the issues on the table’

Anger: Keep asking questions like “Why is this so bad? Why do you want to still pursue this then? What would you like to do from here? (my personal favourite)

Insult and intimidation: See Anger, or coolly refuse to continue until the behaviour stops.

Unless you don’t care whether your client gets a great result or not, transactional negotiation styles won’t work very well.

Equally, whether they are the President of the United States or the Chief Procurement Officer, you should build a skillful tactical wall and get them to pay for it.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate Sales, Negotiation and Presentation trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Asciano, Samsung and Lend Lease

He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.

Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two negotiators.

For more information on negotiating go to www.salesversusprocurement.com


Published in   Executive Level Selling, Negotiation, Sales Management

A Midsummer Night’s Sales Dream

Friday, 27 January 2017 05:06
27 01, 2017

A Midsummer Night’s Sales Dream


Nick is an enterprise sales guy, married to Helena, a clinical psychologist.

It is a Thursday, 5.13 am at their house, 14 Theseus Court in the heart of a suburb with 15 organic coffee shops.

Nick wakes up screaming.

Helena: Hey, hey, hey…what’s wrong with you…it’s still early.

Nick: I had a shocking dream…did you turn the air-con off?…it’s 38 degrees.

Helena: I was cold…so, come on, you know I love a good nightmare…what happened?

Nick: I was meeting with a CEO and it was just me and him in a really small office and I couldn’t shut up. I just kept talking and pitching idea after idea and sharing all the new product updates. It went on for what seemed like hours.

Helena: So, what did he do?

Nick: He said I was very knowledgeable and that he was very interested….and then he rang me straight after this ridiculously long meeting and told me he was giving the business to another company whose Sales Director was a mute.

Helena: A mute?… as in couldn’t speak?

Nick: Yeah, apparently he had his tongue cut out by his first boss after talking too much in his initial calls with clients….it was awful.

Helena: Then what happened?

Nick: The CEO said ‘But I want you to come back tomorrow for a de-brief’….I did and we walked into an even smaller room and he said ‘Watch this!’

Helena: Watch what?

Nick: He made me sit through 325,000 slides, the same number as my monthly target, going on about the history of his company and all their divisions and departments. It was excruciating. When I got home you greeted me with a Zimmer frame and said ‘Well, aren’t you going to give me a kiss for my hundredth birthday?’

Helena: How’d I look?

Nick: Like your mother…only with no teeth.

Helena: Charming! So do you want me to unravel the dream for you?

Nick: I suppose it’s just the constant feed of how not to sell on LinkedIn, which I already know anyway… and that leftover goat’s cheese from last night.

Helena: Not quite, Nick. It’s actually a bit deeper than that.

You do indeed know how to have a conversation with senior executives, listen and let the discussion unfold… that’s why you’ve been successful…plus you’ve picked up all of my clinical psychology techniques that encourage people to reveal themselves.

But recently, you’ve been inundated with mixed messages from Head Office. You had the Regional Sales Kick-Off with a whole day of product updates and the cult-like fervour of what you should now be pitching with the new system. You then had the divisional off-site function where the product gurus pummelled you with even more slides and a director who told you and the team to lead all calls with the new presentation.

It’s called cognitive dissonance – the disconnect between your attitude and your behaviour. Your dream simply highlights that you have a choice to make. Be true to yourself in the brilliantly conversational way you engage clients or become some weird hybrid that flips between what you do well and the information dumping approach to which you’ve been exposed.

I guess, your dream is telling you to choose.

Nick: Thanks, honey…don’t worry, I’ve made my choice. I know who I am and what works.

You know we still have an hour before we have to get up…cuddle?

Helena: It’s too hot.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Sales Expert, Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Corporate Trainer who gets sales results rapidly and is the author of #1 International Best Seller, ‘Confessions of a Pitch Consultant’

Also available in hard copy for $15 +P&H…just DM or email here.

He has coached and trained high profile executives globally in master level presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching and has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, EMC, Hitachi , Computershare, Lend Lease and Asciano.

This article first appeared in Linkedin Pulse.

Published in   Blog, Executive Level Selling

Holiday Sales Reading Guide

Sunday, 11 December 2016 06:56
11 12, 2016

Holiday Sales Reading Guide



Like the wafting smell of a barbecue at your neighbour’s house, you can sense the holiday season is not far away.

Many people ask me ‘What’s a good book to read over the break on selling or negotiating or presenting?’

Usually, the response is ‘Give it a rest, go sit on a beach or read something else like the fascinating ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ or a dark Danish crime thriller’.

However, if you are keen to keep the business brain cells alive after they’ve been bashed by food, wine and New Year’s Eve, here is my holiday sales reading guide for you to check out.

Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. His long awaited sequel to the seminal Influence is a great read on what to do before traditional persuasion takes place.

To Sell is Human by Dan Pink, This #1 New York Times Business Best Seller is still excellent reading for technical sales, pre-sales, project managers as well as sales managers that reinforces many of the key points of engaging people.

The Go-Giver (Expanded Edition) by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a lovely parable worth reading after a massage on the beach with an espresso martini. It might even re-frame your thoughts after a year of global division.

Negotiating the Impossible by Deepak Malhotra has some great stories if you anticipate coming back to work facing contract renewals or tough negotiation situations.

3-D Negotiation by Lax and Sebenius is also a significant tome on fresh ways to grow the pie so that both parties can get more than they might have imagined.

Slide-ology by Nancy Duarte has some clearly articulated ideas on how to make your presentations look and feel great for all audiences.

Storytelling with data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic is even more focused on how pre-sales and technical sales people can present data without making the client feel that they’re listening to their drunk Uncle at Christmas re-telling the same boring stories about fly-fishing in the 1960’s.

Story Theater Method – Strategic Storytelling in Business by Doug Stevenson contains the seven stories we all need to tell in business and how to tell them.

Finally, click here for ‘Confessions of a Pitch Consultant’ which gets a favourable rating here because I wrote it.

Now a #1 International Best Seller these sales stories are perfect for a poolside beer or champagne, served with mini-burgers. Just a thought.

Also available in hard copy for $15 +P&H…just DM or email me.

Have a safe, happy, well rested and well read holiday season


Elliot Epstein is a leading Sales Expert, Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Corporate Trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, EMC, Hitachi , Computershare, Lend Lease and Asciano.

More wins,  better deals at www.salesversusprocurement.com


Published in   Executive Level Selling, Negotiation, Presentations