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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

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

21 10, 2014

Why You Need To Know What’s Changed in Selling To Procurement


One wag suggested Procurement is the art of pretending not to be the slightest bit interested in buying anything on offer whilst simultaneously being desperate to supply products and services urgently to their own company.

I think it was me.

But Procurement has changed or at least is well on the way to changing and you should be prepared for it.

Together with Paul Rogers, an acclaimed international procurement guru, we have produced over 3 hours of podcast content to help you navigate the world of selling to procurement in 2014.

You can check it out here https://www.salientcommunication.com.au/index.php/new-podcasts

Here are a few insights into the new world of selling to procurement:

Harry Halitosis is dying out

Harry grew up in purchasing and gravitated to procurement in a fluke restructure where he learned to grow his own dandruff and bark rudely at suppliers who didn’t give him what he wanted.

Harry has no vision and his company wouldn’t dare give him visibility on their real needs so he can’t make any decisions of note. Handling Harry is simple – go around him and stop being such a Wuss about probity and the document that says you can’t.

Harry won’t buy from you anyway unless you’re cheaper than a Cambodian Call Centre Worker.

However, you won’t need to stock up on breath mints for Harry for much longer.

He is being replaced by a new breed of Procurement professional, increasingly female, well educated and with a broader view of value.

She is also very well educated in the art of negotiation, so you’d better be too.

Did I mention the podcasts yet?

New Procurement Now Has Real Power

Newer procurement professionals often come with strong lines of business background including Operations, Finance, HR, IT and would you believe, Sales.

They not only know their supply chain and how it works, they are well networked in their industry and can Google faster than your 12 year old when a new app comes out.

To top it off they are given real authority by their senior stakeholders.

If you sell products and services that are classified as Indirect Spend (not material to their core function) like IT, Print, Travel, Labour Hire, Equipment, Professional Services etc, chances are they have the imprimatur to guide and drive a lot of decisions.

I know of at least two clients that have the Chief Procurement Officer reporting directly to the CEO and are afforded the autonomy accordingly.

Sales 101 cheese, crappy rapport building and talking brochure sales behaviour will fail miserably.

The way you craft your offer and negotiate from there will be critical.

Real cases studies as opposed to the new testimonials you have in Alabama or Kazakhstan will be vital.

These procurement people are like a squad of Liam Neesons.

They have a very special set of skills, they will hunt you down, they will find you and they will kill you…… You will be ‘Taken’ in the negotiation if not careful and that means serious margin is at stake, not to mention onerous deliverables.

You Are Always Negotiating

When we run negotiation skills training for sales people it’s typically a couple of days a year.

Your new procurement friends will spend up to 8 days a year in formal and informal training and certifications.

By the time you’ve picked up your first double strength ristretto/skinny latte/macchiato, Procurement will have negotiated their first 100k in savings for the day.

You should always have multiple options, tender compliant or outside the scope of the tender – good procurement people will look at it, even if only to pick your brains and leverage the incumbent, if it’s not you.

You should implicitly know where you can move and where you can’t and you need a shield as big as the ozone layer to handle all myriad of tactics.

it’s a new world – Jarryd Hayne is off to play NFL, Rap is still considered music and Procurement is armed, educated and licensed to buy.

This message will self destruct in 5 seconds.

if you want to avoid self destruction go to the Sales V Procurement Podcasts HERE:

As CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker and corporate trainer who has coached and trained over 4000 people including CEOs, senior management and successful sales teams throughout Australasia and Asia including Hong Kong and Singapore.


Elliot is a specialist sales speaker for high profile corporates having spoken at over 1500 conferences, workshops and break-out sessions on presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.


He is 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 expensive children


E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

Published in   Negotiation

2 09, 2013

Do You Negotiate at Work As Well As You Do At Home?


I’ve seen some amazing negotiators who have personally bought houses, Ferraris, a garage full of home appliances, even school fees with great results.

The Ferrari buying ICT sales guy dined out for years on purchasing a $378,000 car for $192,000.

So why aren’t these superb outcomes translated into solid margins, reasonable delivery timeframes, and well managed variations when selling your solutions.

Ah, because we’re selling now, not buying and they have all the power goes the refrain.


Let’s look at the core planks of good negotiation and see if they translate at work

1.  Planning

Many of you will have bought your own home or investment property and prepared very well.

You researched the market, looked at a lot of options, set expectations with Estate Agents and then at Auction set your walk away position which gave you a sense of structure and anchored your decision making.

Come Monday morning you have a client who wants to re-negotiate consulting rates, software licenses or volume product pricing, payment terms and a bucket of ‘more for less’

As a negotiation coach, unfortunately I often don’t see the same rigor and planning in these client meetings as might occur with a house purchase and often the figures over a three year contract are similar or even greater.

Too often sales people have a 5 minute meeting to think about their pricing, competition and offer and then WAIT for the client to lead the negotiation. You are on the back foot.

Ideally you should have your own positions on these issues and negotiate from there.

2. Bundling vs Unbundling Solutions

When you’re buying a new fridge does the salesperson itemise each component eg additional crisper tray, stainless steel or white, additional warranty, delivery and removal of our old fridge. What do you do?

Ask them to throw stuff in of course or decide that you’ll pick it up yourself to save $200. That’s $200 that had $100 margin in it for the seller.

Companies do the same thing to their detriment. When you itemise individual services or hardware, software, installation you invite the client to ‘pick off’ expensive items and ask you to throw it in.

When you bundle a solution with a quote that says ‘Advertising Solution for Acme Inc’ $74,590 clients have less room to negotiate. You describe the complete solution and it then becomes a matter of proving its value, not its individually priced components.

3. Concession Trade

How many times have you traded in your personal life with ‘I’ll pick up the kids if you cook dinner tonight’ or ‘I’ll buy 2 dozen if you give me 10% off?’

It’s called concession trading based on the principle that you don’t give something away unless you get something back.

Back at work, rather than totally conceding on price for example, why not counter with ‘If we reduce the price by 5%, will you place the same volume order next quarter as well. Cash flow is another good one. ‘If we reduce the price by 5% will you agree to pay in 7 days?’

If you are going to concede in a negotiation, at least get something back in return.

In essence, take some of those great negotiation skills in your everyday life to work. The other party does not have all the power.  You too can control how you negotiate. The results are amazingly rewarding.

Written by Elliot Epstein, CEO, Salient Communication

Elliot is a keynote speaker who has also trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region including CEOs, Olympians and Leadership teams and is a sought after keynote speaker on Executive Presentations, Sales, Negotiation and Leadership.

Published in   Negotiation

Margin Call

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:00
13 02, 2013

Margin Call


There seems to be more panic around than was in both the AFL and NRL’s coach’s box in the final ten minutes of their grand finals.

The current global anxiety is more than adequately covered at the moment in the press, but the speed with which vendors and channel partners appear to be panicking is indeed alarming.

Here are some examples of sales negotiation behaviour that is to my mind unnecessary and counter productive.


Myth 1 ‘We need to drop our pants now’

Clients are downsizing, cutting Opex, Capex, Amex…blah, blah, blah!

Wrong! Clients need you even more and should pay appropriately. They have less technical expertise and more stringent KPIs. They need companies who can deliver with certainty in uncertain times. Demonstrate value that protects and grows their business and they will find a way to pay. Let’s avoid falling into the trap of assuming ‘Oh, this client is really cost conscious now’. This is not the time to sit down with a big red pen at proposal time as too many are wont to do.


Myth 2 ‘Our channel partners and distributors will need more special deals and more margin.

I know, it’s not what you want to read if you’re in the channel, but frankly most vendors I know have already bent over backwards to accommodate these demands. Now is the time to work more closely together, in a bipartisan approach to adding value to clients – be more transparent, get everyone involved earlier in sales cycles, sell to senior management together, not the technical zoobs. This is not the time for slashing and burning pricing models in a knee-jerk reaction to ‘we need a better deal than last month to be competitive here’


Myth 3 ‘Our company needs to concede more to clients’ requests for no fee increases, cheaper maintenance, tighter SLA’s’.

Why? If the business value is there and your solutions are working, why do you need to concede further just because the client feels like it? Too many people go running to their sales/channel/general manager asking for discounts and concessions with the line ‘It’s the only way we’ll win/keep the business’ Rubbish! Clients move because the thing you sold them doesn’t work properly, isn’t supported or doesn’t meet their requirements any more –not because it’s $x a month dearer. Making it cheaper doesn’t really help them much. It just reduces your margin unnecessarily

In our negotiation training programs recently , there has been a worrying and marked increase in the desire to concede first, ask questions later. It is an expensive set of behaviours and preventable if you focus on the real business value you provide rather than getting sucked into negotiating according to the CNN news cycle.


Written by Elliot Epstein, CEO, Salient Communication

Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region and is a sought after keynote speaker on Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations.

E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

© Salient Communication 

Published in   Negotiation