sales negotiation

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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.

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Published in   Executive Level Selling, Negotiation, Sales Management

22 02, 2016

Is Your Manager Donald, Hillary, Bernie, Marco or Ted?


Your manager is running for US President right now.

Without political preference, prejudice or bias of any kind whatsoever, let’s take a look at your manager’s key attributes and see how they lead a sales team.


The Donald is the greatest deal-maker, sales guy, rainmaker that has ever lived in human history.

Just ask him.

He drives the team by the sheer force of his blustering personality. His only affliction is conjunctivitis – an eye disorder because every sentence starts with I. ‘I did this, I was great at that, I blew them away’

He doesn’t let facts get in the way of a bad story, let alone a good one and his successes are ‘Yuge’ (according to his LinkedIn profile).

Donald wants to build a wall between sales and marketing/operations/engineering and in fact, the rest of the entire organisation because they’re just losers who prevent deals from being done.

He constantly reminds the team that all competitors are idiots with lousy products and blames everyone but himself if a deal is lost.

(Also see Disdainful Squint)


Hillary is married to the former CEO who left after allegedly not watching all the Sexual Harassment videos supplied by HR.

She is very experienced both in managing domestic and global deals and in administration.

However, her female staff under 30 mostly dismiss her approach and tend to form their own views on how to win, rather than follow Hillary’s often uninspiring speeches about how clients should behave.

Hillary seems very concerned about her own image, rather than that of her clients. Her sales people are reluctant to take her out on calls because of that disconnect and her love of flat MBA style presentations banging on about how great her company is.

(Also see Entitlement)


Bernie was a sales manager in a remote region for decades and rarely even turned up to join in the festivities at President’s Club (no pun intended).

He believes sales people are paid too much and wants to share the accounts and commissions across the entire team, especially the newbies as it seems fairer.

He is about to introduce House Accounts where Account Directors maintain a quota for an account but all commissions go into a pool for Bernie to distribute at the end of the financial year including to sales support, inside sales, the receptionist and the outsourced cleaning company who cleaned the bins of the sales people every night.

(Also see Idealism)


Marco worked his way up from an Inside Sales rep role to being a young, upcoming manager.

Good looks and charm have won him over 5000 LinkedIn contacts but he’s only ever won a small deal in his own state.

He has no national or global account experience and hopes the team isn’t able to recognise this when he presents his weekly Work In Progress meeting.

When asked his opinions on how to creatively win new business, he tends to repeat himself.

(Also see Big Fish, Small Pond)


Ted read one book on sales in 1968 and has followed its teaching to the letter ever since.

He demands every sales person has an agenda for the meeting, follows the 7 step process regardless of the client’s needs and insists on the CRM being updated every 9 minutes.

He also has a bedside copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People’ written in 1936 which he views as a beacon of modern 20th century thinking.

(Also listen to ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra)

Apologies to Jeb who has since retired to run a weekend bed and breakfast with his brother.

Wish your manager good luck. We’re all counting on him/her. (See Airplane/Flying High)

Elliot Epstein is CEO of Salient Communication and is a sought after keynote speaker, pitch consultant and corporate sales coach who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. 

He is internationally renowned for coaching leaders, sales professionals and subject matter experts to win high stakes deals.

Elliot is based in Melbourne, Victoria and is not entitled to vote outside Australia.


Published in   Blog, Executive Level Selling, Sales Management

Why You Don’t Need Motivation to Win Business

Saturday, 23 August 2014 15:08
23 08, 2014

Why You Don’t Need Motivation to Win Business


Recently I was privileged to attend a complete coaching philosophy session led by the Head Coach of A-League team, Melbourne Victory and his three key assistants.

 There were less than a hundred of us eagerly eating cold party pies, waiting for pearls of wisdom on how their magic structures or formations could help our junior footballers suddenly become heroes and in turn claim bragging rights at the pub.

 But there were no great insights into the game plans or strategies, rather we got something far more powerful that applies just as strongly to you in winning new business.

 Here are the 3 key insights from an elite coaching group and why this will lead to consistent wins in sales.


 Motivation Is A Waste Of Time
Head Coach, Kevin Muscat was characteristically blunt when he said there was too much work to do to waste time trying to motivate professionals. If they weren’t self motivated then they wouldn’t be at the club for very long.

 When questioned if he would spend time motivating a player who was having a bad run, he said ‘Zero…we would simply get to work on coaching skill or technique’.

 Many sales managers have asked me how to motivate a sales person with ‘He’s a good guy – I just can’t get him motivated to do X’. My standard reply is ‘I’m not that good’

 If s/he wants to succeed I’ll give them a range of skills, technique and ideas to win business but given s/he gets a six figure salary to turn up, the minimum requirement is desire, adaptability and attitude.

 Oh, and don’t waste your budget on listening to speakers who have climbed Mt Everest on one leg after contracting the Ebola virus at base camp. You’ll be filled with admiration but it will last as long as fairy floss and your sales figures next year won’t have increased.


 Every Training Session Is At Full Intensity

 A source of pride are my LinkedIn recommendations that talk about how challenging the sales/presentation/negotiation training was, yet how excited they are about the results they achieved afterwards.

 Melbourne Victory train at full intensity week after week, drill after drill. Everyone is committed to match day intensity because they are consummate professionals who want to win.

 When I mention the words ‘Role Play’ or ‘Presentation Rehearsal’ some people look at me as if I’ve just announced that I’ll be attaching electrodes to their testicles and delighting in ramping up the voltage. 

 That only happens when there’s access to off peak electricity rates and is highly conditional on whether or not I had an argument with my wife that morning.

 The real professionals ask for more air time, more critique, more feedback. Instead of saying ‘I’m much better than this in front of a client’,  they say ‘Make me better so I can win more business at C Level, win more deals and make more money.

 Can you imagine a footballer saying ‘I pass much better in a match than I do at training, so I’ll grab a coffee and sit this one out if you don’t mind , coach’


 The Strategy Doesn’t Change Much

 Whilst the team structure is tweaked slightly week to week, depending on the opposition they’re playing, the core strategy, positional play and tactics don’t change much.

 The reason for this is that the game strategy is set by the coaches in the pre-season, well before a match is played.

 Everyone understands the ‘way we go about about winning’ so if a player is injured or gets sold for megabucks mid season. someone else can simply slot in, adhere to the well drilled strategy and play their role.

 There are a lot of sales people and managers who change their strategy more often than they dry clean their favourite suit.

 End of quarter pressures, product mix issues, bonus incentives and perceptions of different markets often lead people to change tactics dramatically half way through a ‘sales season’.

 Existing sales people get thrown out of whack, clients get confused, new sales people are uncertain and inconsistency in wins creeps in because the whole team ( including pre-sales, marketing, service and support)  is playing differently every week.

 Some people like to call this flexibility.

 I call it ‘ad-hoc adventures into the unknown’.

 Elite sport is a multi-million dollar operation run by elite coaching methods.

 Elite Selling should be no different.

 If you’d like to learn more about how you can win business selling to C Level join me in the Salient Executive Level Selling Program in October 2014 click 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



Published in   Executive Level Selling